Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rollie Pollie Fish Heads

The problem with me is... I like my food to be cooked. I never realized that was a personality flaw until this trip. It's not that I want everything cooked, just some stuff. Like anything on my plate that used to be a living creature I prefer cooked.

Basically day 4 in Osaka and I am way over the food already. Part of the problem I think is that we are going out to a lot of "nice" dinners (kaiseki ryori). It's a problem because in Japan you can interchange "nice dinner" with "gross dinner". Well I can, anyway. I say that because a big bowl of noodles or rice is always good, but you don't get that at the nice dinner. In fact you can count your carbs on one hand.

We went to a very nice restaurant Saturday night for a kaiseki type meal. Many many.....many courses of small precisely styled and arranged food. I was up for it for about the first 5 courses or so. The most fascinating was this perfect gelatin sphere with tiny suspended cephalapods inside. It was just like those spheres from The Day the Earth Stood Still (Keanu Reeves remake version). But despite the presentation, my sense of gastronomic adventure was waning by course 6.

Somewhere around course 11 I perked up. Tempura. Yeah, baby! Of course it was only 3 tiny bites precariously stacked on a tiny tray. But, hey, take what you can get at this point. One thing that looked like asparagus, but it bifurcated like a piece of broccoli. I called it broccolaragus. And two individual green beans. Stingy bastards.

As I stuck that first green bean, or should I say "green bean", into my mouth I gained an important insight. My body makes a special, very paticular shuddering sensation everytime I eat a fish head. Of course I never knew about it until this trip, but I'm learning to recognize it quite well. An entire little fish, scales, eyeballs and all, disguised as a tempura green bean.

These Japanese chefs are wily opponents to be sure. Yes, you suckered me this time, but I'll be back. And I'll be smarter.

(*follow up blog note. I was back. I was not any smarter. And it was not "dessert" in any coventional sense of the word.)