January 25, 2023


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SUSHI PIZZA (16A: Fusion food on a fried rice patty)
NASHI PEAR (26A: Juicy Asian fruit)
DASHI POWDER (58A: Instant base for miso soup)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a food and COOKING-related item containing a VESSEL in the form of the word SHIP.

Things I learned:
  • NASHI PEAR (26A: Juicy Asian fruit) Today I learned that the NASHI PEAR has many names, including Asian PEAR, zodiac PEAR, sand PEAR, apple PEAR, papple, naspati, Chinese PEAR, Japanese PEAR, Korean PEAR, and Taiwanese PEAR. Oh, and its scientific name is Pyrus pyrifolia. The NASHI PEAR is native to East Asia. This PEAR variety has a round shape, a high water content, and is noted for its crispness.
  • SLURP (41D: Sound of eating lamian) Lamian is a noodle dish of Chinese origin made with soft, wheat flour noodles. Lamian noodles are hand pulled, made by twisting, stretching, and folding the dough into strands. Although lamian is new to me, it was fairly easy to guess SLURP as the sound of eating.
  • WIE (59D: Golfer Michelle ___ West) Michelle WIE West has been playing golf since she was four years old. In 2000, at the age of 10, she qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. She won the U.S. Women's Open in 2014. Last year Michelle WIE West announced she is taking a break from professional golf
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OPAL (15A: Ethiopian gemstone) The primary sources of OPAL are Ethiopia and Australia, though the gemstone is also found in Mexico, and in the state of Nevada. Here's a fun thing: NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered evidence of OPAL on Mars
  • SUSHI PIZZA (16A: Fusion food on a fried rice patty) There's no tomato sauce or cheese on SUSHI PIZZA, which originated in Toronto, Canada. Instead, SUSHI PIZZA is essentially SUSHI made to resemble a PIZZA. A crust of fried rice is topped with avocado and salmon, and drizzled with spicy mayonnaise and wasabi sauce. We saw SUSHI PIZZA as a theme answer in April of last year.
  • EDIE (47A: Nicky's wife on "This Is Us") Although I've written about This Is Us a number of times, it is a TV series with a lot of characters, and it is difficult for me to keep them straight. Crossing answers to the rescue. Nicky Pearson (played by Griffin Dune and Michael Angarano at different ages) is Jack Pearson's younger brother. (Jack is played by Milo Ventimiglia.) EDIE (played by Vanessa Bell Calloway) was introduced in season six, and is Nicky's wife.
  • ONE (57A: Yi, in English) Yi is Chinese for ONE.
  • PLUM TOMATO (2D: San Marzano or Roma) Although I was solving a food-themed puzzle, I was tricked by this clue at first into thinking it related to geography. PLUM TOMATOes are generally oval or cylindrical in shape, and are favorites for making tomato sauce and paste due to their firmness and solidity. San Marzano and Roma are two varieties of PLUM TOMATO.
  • OPEN SECRET (10D: Highly confidential matter that like a billion people know about) OPEN SECRET is one of those entries that lends itself to fun clues!
  • BALD EAGLES (11D: Birds sacred to the Cherokee) The Cherokee consider high-flying BALD EAGLES to be near to the Creator, and regard the birds as sacred. The feathers of BALD EAGLES are also revered, and are used in some rituals.
  • GHEE (38D: Biryani butter) GHEE is clarified butter. It is used in making biryani, a rice dish originating from South Asia.

    Geography review:

    • DES (40A: ___ Moines) Hello from about 100 miles east of DES Moines, Iowa, where it is currently snowing, though not much accumulation is expected. DES Moines is the capital of Iowa and the state's largest city. In French, "DES Moines" means "of the monks." 
    • MAINE (21D: State with an annual lobster festival) The MAINE Lobster Festival is a five-day event held in August in Rockland, MAINE. Fun fact: In 2016, MAINE designated the lobster as its state crustacean. There are six states with an official state crustacean.
    • CHI (24D: Bulls' city, for short) and NBA (26D: Bulls' league) NBA's CHIcago Bulls play their home games at the United Center in CHIcago, Illinois.
    I enjoyed all of the food references today, not only in the theme, but sprinkled throughout the grid. It seems appropriate to find MENUS and FEEDS on the bottom row. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a fine way to start my Wednesday.