WARNING: THIS POST IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
Caramel pudding with roundworms – Chinjuya restaurant, Yokohama
WARNING: THIS POST IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART, SO DON’T READ IT WHILE EATING YOUR LUNCH – I OF COURSE FULLY REALIZE HOW UTTERLY REPULSIVE IT IS AND WILL PROBABLY DELETE IT BY MORNING SO PLEASE DON’T ABANDON THE BLOG – I JUST CAN’T RESIST WRITING ABOUT IT AT THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT AS I AM JUST SO PERSONALLY SCANDALISED: IT WILL BE BACK TO THE FAMILIAR AND FRAGRANT BEFORE YOU CAN SAY MISS DIOR
I do not often do private lessons- only when the circumstances are right and they suit me – but it was very nice to see one of my students again tonight: Y, who I hadn’t seen for a while and who gave me some amazing omiyage or souvenir presents: some delicious Taiwanese fruit cakes; some green tea, and a bottle of vintage Jicky parfum (whaaaaaat I hear you cry, but it is true and out of the blue).
But anyway, that is another story. Our main point this evening is this: upon practicing ways to answer the question ‘What’s new?’, I was met with this: “Well, yesterday evening I went to a ‘rare animal restaurant……would you like to see the menu?”
(deep fat fried crocodile paw)
Now I have pretty quick-working nifty peepers that can scan a lot of visual information at a glance, and within a microsecond my eyes had feasted on pure horror: never mind the bear, the snake, the crocodile paw, the moth larvae… my sight had rested upon the unmentionable and the unthinkable: COCKROACH.
On a menu? To be eaten?
Gimmicky theme restaurant or not, there is some serious taboo-breaking going on here, even in jest. Cockroach? Are you sure that you want to read on?
Before I came to Japan I had never, to my knowledge, even seen one (fellow British people, do we even have them on our fair isle?) Upon arrival here, though, on this hot, and humid island, I came to know them. Their quivering antennae that send a chill through the body with their intuitive, post-nuclear intelligence: their foul, and dirty scuttling ways: their eggs (UGH>>>>>>>>>shuddddderr)
And I have had my own horror stories.
- Not knowing how to deal with one and hitting it and it breaking apart into perfect halves, allowing me to see the filth goo that dwelled within its lid:
2. Hitting another one with a slipper and not seeing its partner, which then proceeded to fly directly into my face (I literally lost my mind for a couple of seconds and fainted back on to the tatami)
3. Running to pick up the phone, barefoot, one hot summer’s evening and……….well I am sure you can imagine what happened next.
(this was all in our old house, incidentally: after five years in the new place – we moved to where we are now right after the earthquake – I am mercifully yet to come across one)
Suffice to it say, I am not a fan (but then again, who is?) They are repugnant, but to give them their fair play, I will say that I did once do a very strange lesson at my previous school in which we discussed whether human beings had the automatic right to kill them, an ethical debate in which I was sticking up for the roaches (I am quite interested in specieism as a philosophical idea as there is so much irrational and emotional idiocy bandied about when it comes to eating creatures: I have never for one second understood the logic that it is ok to eat a cow but not a cat (even though I have one): or a pig but not a dog (when the former is supposedly more intelligent and thus will suffer at least as much as a mutt). The Japanese eat raw horse here (basashi, and I tried it, and hated it), but then we in England eat pigeons and rabbits, or at least some fancy restaurants in London I have been to serve it, and that would be just as revolting to your average nihonjin as eating candied crickets (god they were vile) would be to a Cockney.
Still, when my student showed me the photos from the restaurant I must confess I stared in horror. I am not much of a meat person to be honest at the best of times (having been a Morrissey-influenced proper vegetarian for five years or so in my late teens…..oh the arguments, the fights, the screaming, the tears at the farmers’ gate as I wept tears in bovine, adolescent empathy, but I meant it, and still feel strangely guilty practically ever time I eat some flesh, even though I do, to be honest, quite often have a taste for it. )
No heart, or lungs, or brain, or skin for me though; just lean meat in small quantities, and, hypocritically, like most people, it can’t look like the creature in question. I just don’t want to be reminded of it, particularly if it were these poor chicks:
One minute they are mimosa fluff balls, the next they are this. Monstrous!
As for the other things that my student and her party sampled and digested (I in all honesty could never even venture anywhere near the VICINITY of a restaurant like that – apparently snake and bear didn’t smell very nice in Korean yakkiniku barbecue style ( I can’t even bear the original beef version….the smell of that meaty smoke on my clothes makes me feel complete and utter despair when I am riding the train back home afterwards), so the idea of my clothes fumees au serpent et a l’ours is even worse.
But moth larvae?!
BLEURRGH! (she said that even she couldn’t try this one)
and as for this………..thing….which we couldn’t even find the English name for, but some kind of mollusc or crustacean like insect, no money whatsoever in the world could induce me to even be in the same room. Oh sweet putrescence, it truly is revolting.
But you know what is coming next, so shield your eyes. Before you go around saying that Japanese people go around eating roaches, though, they really don’t. The ‘gokiburi’ has to be the most despised living entity in the whole of the country – people are phobic, there are adverts in summer times for how to get rid of them, and the idea of eating them would be as least as horrifying to virtually every citizen in this country as it would anywhere else. But Y did have a taste of them and declared them to be ‘delicious and creamy’.
Well she is certainly more audacious than I am. I think I would simply rather die.