Word of the day is "Tanoshimu". It means "Enjoy!", like what you might say before eating dinner.
13.12.2012 7 °C
Eikosan and her two daughters invited Ana and I to help cook a traditional Japanese meal and enjoy it in the comforts of their home. This was a pretty cool offer, except i'm a picky eater and a big wuss when it comes to trying new foods. Although my appetite and ability to try new foods state side has matured plenty, foriegn food remains my nemasis. Is there a phobia out there for those afraid of foods they fear or just don't understand? If not, there should be.
When Eikosan passed me a mysterious gray jello, I felt a shiver crawl up my spine. This gray jello gave me the willies. I'm pretty sure I saw it move on its own just before I picked it up. This little indgredient was not to new to Ana. I glanced at her just before picking it up and she gave me the look that says "Don't do it Keith."
But it's hard to put the jello down and step back when the head chef (Eko San) is giving you the eye. It was like she could read my mind. As transparent as my hesitation may have been, I smiled brightly for the camara and followed orders. I tore it into little pieces and tossed them into the soup.
Once dinner was ready, we prepared the table and snapped a few pics. Someone was definitely watching out for me. This became obvious when they set the plate of fried chicken on the table. "Yahtzee!" We politely passed plates around the table as our eyes began to dig in. For all the non picky eaters out there, allow me to share the experience with you of trying new food. When trying a new food (i.e. vegetable, fruit, meat, etc) you need to mentally prepare for the worst. In this case I was sure the worst case scenario was a projectile vomit across the table followed by people screaming at me. Knowing this would probably happen I closed my eyes, tensed up and opened my mouth.
Drum roll........................delicious. The salad was fresh and crispy. The gray jello mold some how evaporated into the soup, leaving behind a light broth with thinly sliced veggies and a warm coating in my stomach. The rice was cooked perfectly and just sticky enough to make for easy handling with my chop sticks.
The fried chicken was just as one would expect, heavenly. Who knew this fried animal (sorry Kelli) could bring me back to America. Cornel Sanders didn't even compare to this chicken. Here I am enjoying this tasty meal, when the keeper of the house (Eko San) puts a small dish of sauce next to my plate. Its thin base and tan color made me think spicy, authentic Japanese sauce. I'm in. I firmed up a piece of chicken between my sticks and reached for the sauce only to hear a gasp of breath around the table. The two younger daughters and Eko San were clearly not agreeing with this move. "What are they trying to say?", I thought. They all sat motionless for a few moments before Eko San gave me the clue I was after. She made a drinking motion with her hand. Then she whispered the word "TEA". Ahh... tea, of course. At this point we had a good laugh around the table as the ice had finally broken.
The night ended well. Ana and I left with food in our stomachs and new cooking strategies for our next meal. On our way to the subway we had good laugh about the gray jello and spicy chicken sauce. It was a successful night of breaking down the barriers between cultures and managing beyond the limits of my comfort zone. Kan Pai!
Until the next time,
Hope you are all doing well and enjoying your holiday!
I found the gray jello like substance in the produce section of the super market. I'd like to share more about what it is, but I have no idea what it's made of or what it's uses are. For now it will have to remain as the mystery jello.