Assaulted by the wasabi…

wasabi.jpgNow, most of you probably know that, in our family, the preference for seriously strong, extra hot, extra spicy, or “kick-you-in-the-mouth” kind of food experiences belongs to Joel. Tonight, I had a combination of all four of the above categories rolled into one small food experience.

One of our student’s mothers was at the school this evening, and asked if I’ve ever tried sashimi. Well, I hadn’t, though I quite enjoy all the sushi I’ve tried thus far. So, she grabbed a plate and put a couple of pieces of raw fish on it, and mixed together some soy sauce and (before I could say, “only a little please”) the biggest clump of wasabi I’ve ever seen.

Now, I’ve had wasabi several times before…and (being one of those seriously strong, extra hot, extra spicy, kick-you-in-the mouth flavours that are Joel’s domain) I am not a huge fan. Not only that, but this clump of wasabi had to have been bigger than all the amounts from all of my previous wasabi tastings rolled into one and then multiplied by ten. But, I thought….hey, it can’t be that much stronger. Not to mention that I was now sort of obligated to try it and it was too late to adjust the wasabi quantity.

So, I gamely grabbed my chopsticks, and maneuvered the first piece into my mouth. At that moment, my sinus cavities erupted into a blazing inferno, my tongue, lips, and even my teeth felt as though they’d been dissolved in acid, and I burst into tears….all while simultaneously trying to look not nearly as startled as I felt. Fortunately, my benefactress wasn’t watching as I tried the first piece. She did however, catch the identical repeat reactions that occurred as I ate both the second and third pieces. While laughing almost hysterically, she asked me “ni bu xihuan ma?” (“you don’t like it?”) and I answered (honestly, believe it or not…and in Chinese, believe it or not!)…”No, it’s okay! But really, really hot! I need a drink of water!” She and Yang Mama (our boss’s mother, who works at the school with us) thought the whole thing was quite amusing, and kept laughing even as I coughed, hacked, sniffed, tried to catch my breath, and tried to regain my composure.

So there you go…the story of how I got assaulted by the wasabi, and the story of how – even though I’ve now tried sashimi – I still don’t know if I like it or not. Because really, the only thing that my senses recall of the experience was being smacked across the face, kicked in the mouth, and generally punished by the wasabi. To be honest, I’m not even sure there was any fish involved…at least, I sure don’t remember it. :D

20 thoughts on “Assaulted by the wasabi…”

  1. oh jess, if sashimi is a really good piece of fish, it is wonderful. i’m laughing about the wasabi though, because houston always puts too much wasabi in his sushi dish and then dies when he eats a roll!! ha ha!!

    miss you!

  2. Jessica,

    I’m in Joel’s camp when it comes to hot, spicy, etc. But I have to admit that the first time I had sushi, the sushi chef had put a liberal swath of wasabi on the rice hidden below the fish. Now, being like Joel in this way, I like wasabi. But….

    It felt like a knife going up through my sinuses toward my eye. Never have had another pain quite as exquisite as that one.

    I had a cold going into the restaurant. Going out, I was cured! I have no idea why pharmaceutical companies are spending so much on finding a cure for the common cold. We already have it! Wasabi!

    About sashimi, I’ve never met a fresh piece of raw tuna that I didn’t like. Why anyone would cook it and put it in a can, I have no idea!

    Congratulations on following through (pieces two and three. They laughed hard, but you also gained some respect.

  3. I’m not totally against hot and spicy…though I do like to still be able to taste the food underneath the spiciness. I like the spice as an accent….rather than as the ONLY experience of the food. And, I don’t like it on every food…I think sometimes Joel would eat almost everything spicy. Though, come to think of it, he didn’t like it when he put cumin in his oatmeal instead of cinnamon one morning recently.

    I think I’d love the sashimi…and even the wasabi accenting the sashimi. But next time, I’m controlling the amount of the wasabi that gets added to the soy sauce!!!!

    And regarding the healing powers of wasabi….I have had a bit of a head cold for the last week….and my sinuses cleared right up when I ate that stuff last night. They got stuffy again later, but less so…and it seems to be on it’s way out of my system. So, if this happened for two of us, Owen…there’s gotta be a connection.

    And, I think that “they laughed hard, but she gained some respect” may end up being my epitaph…seems like these cross-cultural situations make it so that we’re pretty much a continual source of humor. Not that I mind, that’s for sure!!!

    Thanks for your comments…:D

  4. For the record, did Joel actually finish the oatmeal? I would be willing to wager that he did. I have personally seen him eat worse. How’s that for a wake up!

  5. I will go with Houston in wagering that Joel ate oatmeal and cumin because that is DEFINATELY not the grossest thing I’ve ever seen him eat either!! Jessica, way to stick it’re braver than I’ll ever be! :)

  6. Not only is he too cheap to throw out a bowl of oatmeal, I’m betting that the effort required to get up and make a second bowl factored into the decision as well. :D

    He did try to drown out the cumin with extra cinnamon though. I’m told that it didn’t work. :D

  7. Joel,

    My wager had little to do with a conviction of your potentially questionable taste. It was more to do with your unwillingness to be grossed out of eating something due to external factors, like being to cheap/lazy. One British dish I have yet to try is pigeon. Thats right, flying rats. I even saw it on a menu of a ‘nice’ resturant. But if you visit, I am sure we can find a way. Thanks for a good laugh.


  8. one time my grandma made chili with cinnamon instead of cumin. it was for a chili cookoff at her retirement neighborhood. the funny thing is that people actually liked it!!

  9. i’d love to see a photo of the two bottles side by side to compare how alike they really are…and just how sleep you were.

  10. Joel,

    I think you have a case. Considering there is somewhat of a “perspective” difference (meaning you are tall and she is short) between you and kelly I can understand how that mistake could have been made. While the labels are not similar, the tops are very similar. And think of this, at least it was not chili powder.

  11. They even have the same font! I appreciate Houston’s perspective point, though… hadn’t thought of that.

    Someone should do worldview/socialization studies contrasting tall and short-people. I bet our world’s are pretty different. For example, tall people are more likely to (apparently) prefer spicy oatmeal.

  12. and Houston…it very easily could have been chili powder, considering that all three of them are in the same style packaging. :D Now THAT would’ve been a fun morning!

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