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Popular Culture Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 2

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Updated on Sep 27, 2011

Popular Culture Critical Reading

Questions 1–8 are based on the following passage.

The following selection explains the origins of sushi, and its popularity in the United States.

Burgers, fries, pizza, raw fish. Raw fish? Fast food in America is changing. Sushi, the thousand year old Japanese delicacy, was once thought of in this country as unpalatable and too exotic. But tastes have changed, for a number of reasons. Beginning in the 1970s, Americans became increasingly more aware of diet and health issues, and began rejecting their traditional red-meat diets in favor of healthier, lowerfat choices such as fish, poultry, whole grains, rice, and vegetables. The way food was prepared began to change, too; rather than frying food, people started opting for broiled, steamed, and raw versions. Sushi, a combination of rice and fish, fit the bill. In addition, that same decade saw Japan become an important global economic force, and companies began flocking to the country to do business. All things Japanese, including décor, clothing, and cuisine, became popular.

Sushi started small in the United States, in a handful of restaurants in big cities. But it caught on. Today, sushi consumption in American restaurants is 40% greater than it was in the late 1990s, according to the National Restaurant Association. The concession stands at almost every major league stadium sell sushi, and many colleges and universities offer it in their dining halls. But we're not just eating it out. The National Sushi Association reports that there are over 5,000 sushi bars in supermarkets, and that number is growing monthly. This incredible growth in availability and consumption points to the fact that Americans have decided that sushi isn't just good for them, or just convenient, but that this once-scorned food is truly delicious.

The origins of this food trend may be found in Asia, where it was developed as a way of preserving fish. Fresh, cleaned fish was pressed between rice and salt and weighted with a heavy stone over a period of several months. During this time, the rice fermented, producing lactic acid that pickled and preserved the fish. For many years, the fish was eaten and the rice was discarded. But about 500 years ago, that changed, and hako-zushi (boxed sushi) was created. In this type of sushi, the rice and fish are pressed together in a box, and are consumed together.

In 1824, Yohei Hanaya of Edo (now called Tokyo) eliminated the fermentation process, and began serving fresh slices of seafood on bases of vinegared rice. The vinegar was probably used to mimic the taste of fermented sushi. In fact, the word sushi actually refers to any vinegared rice dish, and not to the fish, as many Americans believe (the fish is called sashimi). In Japanese, when sushi is combined with a modifier, it changes to the word zushi.

Chef Yohei's invention, called nigiri zushi, is still served today. It now refers to a slice of fish (cooked or uncooked) that is pressed by hand onto a serving of rice. Popular choices include ama ebi (raw shrimp), shime saba (marinated mackerel), and maguro (tuna). In addition to the vinegar flavor in the rice, nigiri zushi typically contains a taste of horseradish (wasabi), and is served with soy sauce for dipping.

Maki zushi contains strips of fish or vegetables rolled in rice and wrapped in thin sheets of nori, or dried seaweed. Popular ingredients include smoked salmon, fresh crab, shrimp, octopus, raw clams, and sea urchin. Americans have invented many of their own maki zushi combinations, including the California roll, which contains imitation crabmeat and avocado. They have also made innovations in the construction of maki zushi. Some American sushi bars switch the placement of nori and rice, while others don't use nori, and instead roll the maki zushi in fish roe. These colorful, crunchy eggs add to the visual and taste appeal of the dish.

  1. According to the passage, what other food also gained popularity in the 1970s?
    1. salads
    2. pepperoni pizza
    3. fried chicken
    4. fast-food burgers
    5. fried rice
  2. What was Yohei Hanaya's contribution to sushi?
    1. He pressed the fish and rice together in a box.
    2. He introduced the population of Edo to the dish.
    3. He smoked the fish before putting it on vinegared rice.
    4. He used wasabi to flavor it.
    5. He used raw fish.
  3. According to the passage, what does shime mean?
    1. salmon
    2. shrimp
    3. marinated
    4. roe
    5. seaweed
  4. All of the following can be explicitly answered by reading the passage EXCEPT
    1. What is the definition of the word sushi?
    2. Did Japan's economic status have a bearing on sushi's popularity?
    3. Have Americans adapted sushi to make it more in keeping with their tastes?
    4. Why do some Americans prefer maki zushi over nigiri zushi?
    5. What happens to fish when it is layered together with rice and left for a period of months?
  5. The passage describes Americans' sushi consumption as
    1. more than it was five years ago.
    2. important when watching baseball.
    3. taking place primarily in their homes.
    4. a trend due to supermarket marketing.
    5. beginning for many in college.
  6. In line 3, unpalatable most nearly means
    1. not visually appealing.
    2. not good tasting.
    3. bad smelling.
    4. too expensive.
    5. rough to the touch.
  7. What happens when fish is pickled (line 29)?
    1. It becomes crisp.
    2. It turns green.
    3. It dissolves into the rice.
    4. It is preserved.
    5. It gets dry.
  8. What would be the best name for maki zushi that has the placement of the rice and nori switched?
    1. rice ball
    2. maki maki
    3. zushi deluxe
    4. inside-out
    5. wasabi sashimi

Questions 9–16 are based on the following passages.

Both of these passages were adapted from high school newspaper editorials concerning reality television.

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