Monday, November 12, 2007

Sushi-ed Out

Maybe it's the fact that I learned McDonald's has my beloved WiFi. Maybe I should've taken it as a sign that I was craving a chicken sandwich this afternoon. Maybe I should've known the deal when Makoto asked me if I was hungry today, and I pointed to some cafe and said, "coffee," meaning I wanted an espresso and a western-style pastry. Which we promptly got, and I didn't care that I was paying $10 for a tiny coffee and equally tiny piece of chocolate capuccino cake. Or whatever the hell they called it.

It seems to happen on a lot of trips. On the fourth or fifth day, I just get sick of the local food. My mouth is screaming for a break. Not that I don't have a sophisticated palate, nor is it that I don't respect the local foodways. I'm just used to the amazing diversity of food in California. And let's face it: Other than fast food joints and hundreds of horrendous looking pseudo-Italian restaurants, the dining is pretty homogenous around here. Just like how in Spain I tired of jamon and queso every day and night for the better part of a week, I think I need a break from raw fish. Or maybe chopsticks, even. Hell, eating my cake today, I felt awkward using a fork for fuck's sake.

I think tonight's dinner was the proverbial straw causing the proverbial breakage of the proverbial camel's proverbial back.

Aunt Hiroko, Makoto and I walked around the corner to the local sushi joint. I knew not to expect anything spectacular, but I was just as happy to be at "the local," enjoying freshly made food provided by an old couple who have been doing this for years. Some Japanese serial drama was on the TV in the corner, the hot sake flowed, and my kinspeople - as soon as I gave them the "nademo-ii" go-ahead - started ordering like potheads with a case of the munchies.

The flaming dish of scallops was awesome. So were the flaming oysters. And my ceviche-like preparation of some white fish was brilliant, whatever the hell the swimming critter may have been before my friendly neighborhood sushi-ya filleted it, doused it in ponzu and spring onion, and put it in a bowl in front of me.

Then I got to my moriawase of sushi and I took pause. Yes, the shrimp was tasty. The toro was to-die-for good. But then I hit a wall. My squid, while fine, bored me. The maguro bored me as well. Even the uni (sea urchin) didn't do anything for me. By the time I got to the tai, I could barely put it down. I was so tired of raw fish flesh that I didn't even want to swallow it. But spitting it out in your napkin isn't an option here. Because there are no napkins. You have the wet handtowel they give you before the meal, but it seems a bit daft to hork up a piece of fish into it.

It's not like I haven't met a piece of sushi I didn't like before. But this wasn't some cheap-ass $2 sushi, or a sushi tray from Safeway's deli section. This was fresh, we-just-pulled-it-out-of-the-ocean-with-our-bare-hands shit.

Luckily, I think this only applies to raw fish. After the feeling of nausea and gastronomic ennui subsided, I avoided subsequent raw fish but went to town on a plate of sea bream head, cheeks, and belly. Cooked, of course.

Still, this doesn't bode well for tomorrow when we head to my mom's hometown. Which is a fishing village. Although I found out during dinner tonight that we'll be pit-stopping for a night in another town on Shikoku, as I have some long-lost relative who's supposedly dying to see me. The good news is that I'll be staying in a hotel for the first time this trip, which means I can stop feeling like I'm imposing on my relatives - whom I have to frikkin' trick into letting me pay for things. The bad news is I'll probably still be without internet, meaning at next login, I'll have to post another two day's worth of stuff.

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