The Flavor of Death
My response: "It was....challenging." I can only hope that he thought we ate it and that it enhances our Japanese food street cred. I also hope he doesn't read Chow Bella.
Sadly, the night couldn't be salvaged for me. While the rest of the food was delightfully perfect, as it almost always is at Hiro Sushi, I had suffered a blow from which I could not easily recover. Each subsequent course was a challenge, and my mind remained completely fixated on whatever it was that we had been served at the beginning.
On our way home we stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few pints of Ben & Jerry's to cleanse our palates. Even Chunky Monkey did little to quell the lingering taste of death. And as I write this -- two days after the incident -- my mouth still suffers from pre-puke-excessive-salivation each time I think of the flavor. Yet, in hindsight, it was something of an intimate moment in what I can only surmise is similar to the way in which survivors are brought closer together by a traumatic event. We suffered through this. We survived. We can survive anything!
After some research, I learned that we were served shiokara. According to Wikipedia, shiokara is "considered something of an acquired taste even for the native Japanese palate. One method of enjoying it is to consume the serving at one gulp and to follow it with a shot of straight whiskey."
I wish we had been offered the whiskey.
The moral of the story: Be very careful when you say, "I eat everything." Death pairs well with whiskey. And if death is on the menu, eat it with someone you love.