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The Way The Nori Rolls

Adventures in Gastronomy

JAPAN | Thursday, 4 March 2010 | Views [2612]

... lizards. Guts and all.

... lizards. Guts and all.

When you think of Japanese cuisine, there are plenty of things that might spring to mind.  Sushi is likely to be one of them.  Perhaps miso soup would be another.  Tempura, sashimi, udon, ramen, yakitori, teriyaki, okonomiyaki, or even the ever controversial whale meat.  These are just few examples of what one generally thinks of at the mention of Japanese food… Well, they’re examples of what I generally think of when someone mentions Japanese food.  What I don’t think about  (or at least, didn’t think about before this week) are dishes such as; raw horse meat, bee larvae, snails, whole lizards (or lizards in general), fish sperm (no, that’s not a typo), or anything cooked in a 65 year old broth (and I’m talking the actual broth, not a 65 year old recipe for broth – I will endeavour to explain this further in another post).  The thought of the former meals make my mouth water in the conventional sense of the term – that is in a ‘This food is so delicious that I salivate at the thought of it’ kind of way… the latter also makes my mouth water, but in more of a ‘I have hot spit in my mouth because I’m about to vomit’ kind of way.  So you can imagine my surprise/terror when meals like this would show up on my plate every few days, courtesy of the lovely Simon Richmond.

To be fair, Simon tried every one of these meals with me and, for the most part, they were as new and (almost) as challenging for him as they were for me. The crazy thing is that some of these dishes were really quite tasty (although I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I enjoyed them all) and none of them turned out to be nearly as gastronomically scarring as they sound (except for the lizards… I don’t think I’ll ever get over the lizards). For me, the challenge had more to do with the link between my brain and my stomach and my swallowing reflex rather than the taste, but in reality, they really weren’t that bad.

Nevertheless, I will admit there were several meal times when I decided that I didn’t like Simon and his devious ordering very much, but once the meals had been consumed (and washed down with copious amounts of beer or sake), I always felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction for trying something new and scary.  It was at these times that I decided that I did like Simon and his devious ordering, very much in fact, because he pushed, nay, leaped over the limits of my food comfort zone and forced me to challenge myself – and that’s always a good thing in my book… sometimes I just need a swift kick up the butt to do it.

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