My blog whilst I'm in Japan, 17th to 29th July, 2006, and hopefully sometime thereafter.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Raw chicken

I've been meaning to write something about the food for a while. Tonight ust weirded me out so I have to write to bring myself down. Since I don't understand written or spoken Japanese, and can't pronounce the few words I know very well, it is a bit of lottery. Pictures are good, menus in English are better, but scarce. Pictures outside a ryoriya (Japanese Restaurant) don't mean there's pictures on the menu. Even with pictures, much of the food isn't recognisable anyway (Emma, you were right;-).

The usual routine is to wonder (sic) around trying to peer into ryoriya to get an idea. This is tricky as few have windows and many are not on the ground floor. After failing to find anything recognisable, I give up and dive down a staircase or through some curtains. Tonight I went into a fairly posh place. For a moment I was confused by the waitress until I realised she was speaking clear English. She couldn't translate much of the menu, though. I ordered grilled fish (there was a picture). This was the most difficult thing I've tried to eat with chopsticks: seared until sealed, the exterior like waxed paper, the flesh glued to the skin and bones. I would have had difficulty with knife and fork. I ordered rice, but it wasn't that simple. I got three small balls of rice, topped with sour cream and a tempura prawn, on a square of nori seaweed; and sauce to dip it in. The waiter seemed to be indicating that I should eat it with my hands, but that was as difficult as using chopsticks. I made a mess of that too. I asked the waitress to recommend a vegetable dish and she suggested chicken and avocado salad. That sounded sane. Until it arrived. First, the waiter placed a small saucer on the small saucer that was already on the table and then some tongs onto the saucer. I have no idea what that was about. Then I tried some. Raw chicken. Totally weirded out. I've heard that fugu tastes like chicken (as does kangaroo, snake, alligator, ...). This chicken tasted like sashimi, but sashimi that was obviously a recently dead animal. Like raw beef, but more so. It was wrong like ketamine is wrong.

I wanted to order some ice cream after all that, but they seemed to be closing and the staff had disappeared. I just got the bill and walked out in a state of shock. Who knows what the ice cream would have been flavoured with ...

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