Culinary Disasters Of The Orient

When either traveling or moving to another country it is always a good idea to try new foods.  Some of them are wonderful and upon returning to your home you can only dream of getting it again.  Some things are interesting, you expect it to be disgusting yet turn out to be if not very good at least pleasing enough to consume, such as Sea Urchin or Adobo in the Philippines (something that can only be described as looking like what happens when you put a whole chicken in a blender).  Some are horrible messes you wonder how anyone could possibly enjoy, such as the shit that comes out of the oden pots (we always just called it “The Bucket”) at every other Japanese convenience store.   Seriously, tofu and octopus already taste terrible but you can choke it down without crying or wanting to kill yourself.  Somehow though simmering for hours in one of those buckets can make something taste like what I would assume Satan’s asshole would do to your tongue, and if it can do that with a radish imagine what it can do to tofu or fish sausage.

This is the horror:

oden

But I’m not here today to talk about all the wonderful things you can try while traveling I’m here to talk about things you shouldn’t even try, the things even worse than a bucket full of convenience  store Satan Ass, like fried spiders, balut, maggot cheese and this:

shirouo

Shirouo

Why yes kids, those are live fish.  And yes, you are going to eat them while the poor little bastards are still swimming around in your soup.

“The cute little fish will arrive on your table in a big bowl, darting through the water and most likely dreaming about sex. It’s their annual mating habit that has them swimming up the river, and getting them into the trap that brought them to your table.

Along with the bowl of fish come a quail egg and a bottle of vinegar. You crack the egg and pour it into the cup provided, then mix it with some vinegar.

Then, you start the delicious cruelty with a device which is half ladle half sieve, you catch some of the fish out of the bowl and throw them into the smaller bowl of quail egg / vinegar mix. Locals will tell you that the vinegar is numbing the fish, rendering it unconscious. But if you look at the proceedings yourselves, you will discover that the vinegar may be pure torture to the poor little beast – it wriggles like crazy…

My Japanese friends tend to swallow them alive… and then tell me that they swim freely through their stomach and irrite their intestines, which was of course always a great excuse for drinking large cups of strong shochu to get rid of those strange feelings deep inside their bellies…”

I think the shochu is more for getting so drunk you forget what you just ate, but I think going for the shochu first might be better so you’re drunk enough to eat it in the first place, not taste it and then not remember anything about it in the morning.   I know this comes from Japan a country whose only contribution to the culinary arts in most people’s minds is raw fish (it’s not), but this is going to far, I like my sushi fresh but I also like it dead before it hits my plate.

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