As I was watching TV the other day, it said that wasabi is really a huge craze in the West.
TV shows most times exaggerate the story like three times at least and make the story sound so true where as the reality isn't exactly as it tells. So this time, I guess half of the "huge craze" is true which means that the fact that it's popular to some extent is true.
So this show showed the extreme: this white person (I think it was in the States), in a sushi restaurant, without soy sauce --- and even without the rice of the sushi --- put some lemon juice on wasabi and dipped the sushi topping in that wasabi and carried it to her mouth. Now, I don't think that's the common way.
The reason for this wasabi craze (or whatever you call it) I hear is the anti-aging effect it has.
Originally, wasabi and other stuff like ginger are called yakumi which are a bit different from seasonings. The primary role of yakumi is to add a hint of flavor, relish and color to the main dishes. Yakumi takes away the "raw smell" of the ingredients and stimulates one's appetite. Moreover, as it is written with the kanji "medicine" and "taste", yakumi also has some medicinary efficacy.
Is this stinging flavor of wasabi something like, "Good medicine stings more"? LOL
When I was a kid I couldn't have this really stinging green stuff like many other kids, so when I had sushi they were basically all non-wasabied sushi, but strange thing, this hotness becomes comfortable as you grow old. Now I can't have sushi without it.
So I hear that the popularity in the States and Europe off from the health aspect, but you'll soon find out the medicine turning into addiction.
Anyhoo, even if you're addicted to it and you're really in love with it, no one thinks sushi with fish on top of lemoned wasabi is cool. Watch out. Your mouth (and actually prolly stomach too) is on fire.