eel squeal

Aside from an occasional work outing, my lunch usually consists of dinner leftovers from the previous night. Recently, my co-worker sniffed around my vicinity exclaiming, "Something smells really good...what are you eating over there?" With a mouthful of food, I replied without hesitation, "Its eel."

Her eyes bugged out, "Huh?" I thought she didn't hear me through my chewing and I confirm her fears, "IT'S EEL OVER RICE." Her jaw drops to the table. Unagi is one of my favorite dishes and I've been eating my wife's Japanese cooking so long that I forget that many of my fellow Americans would have the same reaction as this woman. They don't eat some of the foods we eat. I tell her that its available at the local Korean Mart - but she thinks a tour guide would be needed. I try to convince her that its worth a try...but no luck. She confesses good naturedly that she might be too white to attempt such foods.

She mentions a recent No Reservations episode in Japan which blew her away - especially the scene in Kyoto featuring artistic presentations of traditional Japanese seafood, sashimi and mountain vegetables. Now, salmon is adventurous eating for her, so these foods were completely alien. This only heightened my appreciation that I was fortunate enough to eat traditional Kyoto cuisine a couple years ago. She then mentioned the Vietnam episode showing the fish sauce making process that seemed "dirty". The concept of fish sauce escaped her "So if you use that everywhere...then everything tastes like fish?"

Its interesting that food provides such insight into cultural differences. It also retells history - for example Filipino food reflects exposure to Chinese culture and Spanish colonization. As for my coworker, her tastes reflect New Jersey suburban white mom. The "eel situation" reminded me of that "Bizarre Foods" commercial.


Anonymous said...

sometimes i can't believe where you live.

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