Friday, July 19, 2002
Anyway, in order to get things started here, I'll repost one of my more recent writings:
I went and had fish for dinner last night...
...And a funny thing happened. They forgot to cook it. I figured that the chef must have been absent-minded, or the kitchen was really rushed or something like that, because it looked like all they did was take a little piece of fish, throw it on top of a little bit of squished together rice, and serve it that way.
I thought briefly of point this out to someone, but I thought better of it. The last thing I wanted was to be confronted by an angry chef wielding one or more of the rather impressive (and incredibly sharp) knives it looked like they had in the place. Besides, oddly enough, I looked and found that they were forgetting to cook anybody else's food in the place either. That just seemed a little odd. Nobody even seemed to notice (or even care) that the were eating raw fish. I guess if you can find the right kind of customers (for more help on this subject, I suggest you might consult the collected works of P.T. Barnum) you can convince people that it is a Good Thing(TM) that they're being served these tiny little bits of marginally identifiable raw fish on little balls of rice and charging them $4 a pop for the privilege. They even have this cute little name for it, something that sounds kind of like "Soo-shee"?
Somehow, when I woke up this morning, the thought never crossed my mind that I would wind up sitting in some little corner restaurant in Belltown (one of the many downtown Seattle neighborhoods populated primarily by people your mother probably woudn't approve of) and staring at tiny little pieces of various seafoods to make absolutely sure (for the umpteenth time) that the one piece of fish didn't just twitch. Yet, through circumstances that I haven't entirely determined yet, I found myself following several of the co-workers with whom I had just spent over ten hours in an inadequately ventilated conference room to Shiro's Sushi, allegedly one of the better Japanese restaurants in the Seattle metropolitan area.
In a futile effort not to look too much like a gaijin, I decided that since I had not in recent memory seen any reports of multitudes of people keeling over and dying after eating at this place, I figured that I might as well try some of the stuff. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, right? (Of course, that which does kill us makes us dead, but that's beside the point.) Besides, I didn't see the Kiddy-burger anywhere on the menu, so I was kind of stuck.
Of course, just about everyone else I was with was well acquainted with the proper methods for consuming raw fish. I scanned the menu for ingredients whose names I recognized, and after several minutes of deliberation located a couple that looked relatively safe. Having little or no idea of the proper ettiquette for eating sushi, I tried to just remain quiet and unassuming. This worked for about fifteen seconds. I'm sure the people who work in Sushi restaurants probably shudder at the behavior of people like myself with no idea of their culture's table manners, but since nobody there brought up the topic of Seppuku, I think I managed to get out of it without offending any of the really mean spirits.
Finally, the food (or something vaguely resembling it) arrived. It was at this point that the sudden realization dawned on me that I had totally forgotten what it was that I ordered. After digging through the cobweb-cluttered recesses of my short-term memory, I finally managed to come up with a pretty good idea of what was what. After a brief tutorial on the proper use of soy sauce, I selected one of the more food-like substances in appearance on the plate, and readied for the kill (actually, it may have theorteically been dead by the time it reached me)...
...And promptly found that I had greatly overestimated my skills with chopsticks. At least there could be no doubt that whatever it was, it was dead now. Finally, after a halfheated attempt to reassemble the carefully prepared nigiri, I finally managed to get a hold of it, and work up enough courage to open my mouth and take a bite. It was at this point that I was to become acquainted with the wonderous substance known as Wasabi. My heritage as a native of the state of New Mexico has given me a greater tolerance for spicy foods than a good chunk of the general population, but I found that Wasabi works in a far different way than chile peppers, heading straight to the nose. The stuff looks innocent enough, but can be downright mean if you aren't careful.
Once my brain somehow decided to go into denial about the fact that I was eating raw fish, I was actually able to enjoy several of the selections I had made. In fact, I even ordered a couple more of the surfclam, one type that I thought had a particularly interesting texture. All things considered, I probably would eat sushi again if I was offered the opportunity, but I still don't think anyone could pay me enough to get me to eat some of the stuff they serve on Iron Chef. I also tend to think that for the time being, I'll stick to the local Teriyaki take-out place if I ever decide I need a fix of Japanese food. Nonetheless, I guess that this means I have now eaten sushi, and lived to tell the tale. Maybe next, I'll go try out Dim Sum somewhere...
...Then again, I'm not pushing my luck.