Saturday, October 6, 2012


Sushi:  I wouldn't call myself a culinary adventurer.  Andrew Zimmern has nothing to fear from me.  For instance when a friend of a friend offered me some straight from Scotland haggis, it didn't take me long to say, "no thanks".[1]

However I also wouldn't call myself a culinary recluse either.  I'm usually more than willing to try new things, I'm just not desperate to find the next comestible highlight in the backwaters of the barely edible.

Which brings us to sushi.

My first and only [2] experience with sushi came about when I was in the last year of studying for my undergraduate degree.  As part of our requirements for our degree, I and a female classmate were both
interns at a law enforcement agency in Atlanta.  The semester was almost over and it was our last days of interning.

She didn't have to come in until later that day but arrived around noon and asked if I wanted to go out to lunch to celebrate the end of the semester/interning/college/etc.  Unfortunately, I had already eaten, but in the spirit of day, I said I'd be glad to go with her and provide company. [3]

Since I wasn't going to eat, she decided to go get sushi.  In the interest of full disclosure, the sushi bar in question was actually attached to a food court in an upscale mall nearby.

You sushi defenders are now saying things like, "well of course it wasn't very good.  If you'd only have gone to a better restaurant!

That is not the case at all.  We, in fact, went to this place instead of a to a just as easy to get to nearby sushi bar, because she had been to both before and said this was in fact as good if not better than most of the sushi bars she'd been to. [4]

So back to the story.  She got a plate full of sushi stuff.  Don't ask me what type of sushi it was.  I don't know and at this point frankly don't care.  Because the drinks from the sushi bar were small and limited, I got us both extra large drinks from one of the food court restaurants.  They weren't quite 55 gallon drums, but close.[5]

We chatted while she ate and then she asked if I'd ever had sushi.  I admitted that I hadn't.  She offered some of hers.  I declined.  Not because I thought it would be bad, but I'd already eaten and she didn't have that much of it and I didn't want to eat her lunch.  I explained as much.  She said she didn't mind and offered again.[6] So I said, okay.

As I was saying at the beginning of my tale.  I've eaten my share of less traditional food.  I've at least tried food from many places around the world and have enjoyed most of it.  I've eaten some strange things.[7]  And while I haven't loved or even liked some of it [8], I've never had something where, if it was the only thing available to eat, I would have starved.

Until that day.

That bite of sushi is the only morsel of food that I've ever eaten that I had to actively stop myself from throwing up.  My gag reflex was trying to work overtime and my brain was desperately trying to play it cool and keep a lid on things.

What I wanted to do was eject the stuff from my mouth.  But I also didn't want to completely offend and/or turn off the lovely co-intern across the table.  An internal debate between my brain and my stomach proceeded that went something like this:

Brain: Swallow that!
Stomach: Not ever!
Brain: Do you see that girl across the table?  Well we'd like to see her again.  Do NOT blow this.
Stomach: I don't care about the girl across the table.  Remember that lunch we ate about a half hour ago?  If you don't want to see it and the sushi on that selfsame girl.  I suggest you do something!

Meanwhile, I had instantaneously broken out into a cold sweat and my face had become pasty white as all blood retreated from the area.

I attempted to slyly and calmly spit the offending item into a napkin without literally losing my lunch.[9]

I then proceeded to drain my entire giant drink in one long swallow.

Things hadn't gotten much better internally.

Having watched this entire proceeding, she offered me her drink and pushed it across the table.

I proceeded to drain her entire drink in one long swallow as well.

At this point the wild look in my eyes subsided as the battle between forces of upchuck and 'smile-as-you-suffer-through-it' turned slightly in favor of the latter.

I'm proud to say I ultimately did not spew forth that day though it was mighty close.  Of course, I never saw the girl again either.  [10]

Thus from that day forward I have never had sushi again.

When people ask me why and I tell them this tale inevitably I then get barraged with comments like,

"Well what type of sushi was it?"
"If you tried such-and-such, I bet you'd love it!"
"You just don't know what you're missing?"

My response is always the same.  Who cares!

When you come microns away from making a technicolor rainbow, the last thing you do is go and experiment to see if you can identify exactly what brought you to the brink.

I don't eat sushi.  My life is no less full for this fact.

Sushi - F-------- [11]

[1] - Haggis, if you were unaware, is Sheep's stomach filled with stuff that look about like what you'd expect to find in a sheep's stomach.
[2] - Because that's not telling of how this is gonna go.
[3] - I'd also be lying if I didn't say that she was very cute and the possibility that we might see more of each other outside of school would have been agreeable.
[4] - She evidently ate the stuff on a regular basis.  She actually later went and got a part time job at a sushi bar just so she could get the stuff more often and cheaper.
[5] - Nickel difference!
[6] - She loved sushi so much she was essentially acting as a sushi ambassador.
[7] - Among other things: opossum, alligator and these strange white sausages in Paris that I later found out were stuffed with intestines.
[8] - I've never been able to get behind Indian curries.
[9] - I succeeded in getting it to the napkin.  I failed completely at the sly part.
[10] - When an ambassador offers you delights from their country and it takes all of your willpower not to yak, the possibility of future relations between countries tend to dry pretty quickly.
[11] - For the record, that's and 'F' with eight minuses behind it.

1 comment:

  1. Your sushi story and mine are pretty similar, as far as the actual eating-the-sushi experience went. It was prom night and we had decided to go to a Japanese restaurant. I was perfectly happy with my fried rice, but my friends insisted I try some of their vile sushi. Never in my life have I been more disgusted by something I put in my mouth. Meanwhile they're all laughing and I'm literally trying to keep my rented suit/night from being ruined right in front of me. Needless to say, I, as well, will never be having sushi again if I can help it.