To Eat, Or Not To Eat


I know I promised a synopsis of my JLPT (日本語能力試験) experience, and that is forthcoming, but until I fully recover here is some lighter fare.

This evening I had a ladies group class. I assign them “simple” homework assignments about two times out of three. Last time I asked them to make two short lists of foods they have never eaten. The first list being foods they never want to eat, and the second; foods they want to eat someday. Of course my assignments are always followed with the question, “Why?” For todays items the reasons may have been self-evident.

A few things people want to eat:

  1. three-star French cuisine. (三つ星)
  2. kusaya (くさや) – a fish which stinks, but tastes good
  3. bear paw – a Chinese delicacy
  4. petrel nest soup – a very expensive Chinese delicacy
  5. caviar and crackers

Things they don’t want to eat:

  1. yaminabe (闇鍋), “dark pot”; also called yamijiru (闇汁), “dark soup”. Everyone brings something to a dark room and adds it to a pot that is stewing away. Without looking you taste the result. This sounded like something I might want to try, until someone said something about socks (and worse) being added. That ruined the “stone soup” romance of this idea.
  2. inago no kanroni (イナゴの甘露煮) – I’m willing to try this one. A traditional dish made by cooking in a mixture of sake, sugar or honey, and soy sauce or mirin (酒・砂糖・蜜・醤油・味醂). Doesn’t the broth for poaching sound tasty? What is the food, you ask? Inago (蝗) is commonly referred to in English, as “locust”. If it was good enough for John the Baptist while he wandered in the wilderness, it is certainly good enough for me; especially with a little sake and soy added.
  3. raw beef – a student was eating this at an airport in France. Her traveling companion was not eating it and she asked why. When she got the reply, she ran away to vomit. I have eaten it without any vomiting, but I prefer subjecting it to a heat source first.
  4. suppon no chi (鼈の血). Suppon is a kind of turtle and chi is blood. They slice the turtle’s neck just above the collar bone and use the blood as a delicacy. The rest of the turtle is also eaten as a delicacy. I was served shochu (焼酎), a strong alcohol, with this in it one time. I don’t recall anything special about it and so haven’t gone hunting for it again. One reason it is sought after is that it supposedly improves sexual performance, but I have heard that for every odd food served.

Today’s homework stimulated more conversation than I had expected. It cut into our time to discuss a 1737 year old man from Lycia. I like to discuss him every December and I needed to brush up before Saturday anyhow.


2 Responses to “To Eat, Or Not To Eat”

  1. verbivore Says:

    I am pretty open-minded when it comes to food and I think I would try just about everything from both lists – except the 鼈の血. I just don’t think I can do blood. I have eaten blood sausage but I don’t like it.

  2. smithereens Says:

    I’ve never been squirmish about food: chicken feet, durian, jellyfish salad, you name it. But finding raw beef disgusting, coming from a Japanese, beats me… I remember eating raw Hokkaido beef and everybody around said it was a delicacy (please confirm if I lost face because it was actually a prank?)

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