I dragged my husband to a Sushi restaurant recently in a desperate bid to wean him off the junk food they serve at those ubiquitous American fast - food chains. We stepped into the charming little place and tried not to look too startled when all the waiters and waitresses screamed Irashaimasee in unison. Pretty sure it means "Welcome" in Japanese. In fact I'll bet on it.
However, in today's world there is no escaping fast food it appears, as the two of us were confronted by a shiny, metallic conveyor belt hawking an endless procession of the different kinds of sushi. Here was Japan's answer to American fast food. I did not have too much time to ponder over it, as a waitress expertly manoeuvred us away from the conveyor belt and to a table tucked away in a cosy corner and handed us menu cards with colourful pictorial depictions of the fare. Perhaps we had 'sushi virgins' written all over our faces!
My husband ordered the chicken nuggets and ignored the condescending look the waitress shot him. She turned that severe gaze towards me, and I swallowed before dutifully ordering the Unagi (eel)and Prawn tempura. The harridan wanted me to try the octopus (malicious creature) but I declined as I kept getting reccurrent visions of long tentacles grappling with my tonsils in the inner recesses of my throat.
The food arrived and I grabbed the chopsticks ignoring the pungent odour of raw fish that assailed my nostrils. The prawn tempura looked appetising and I found it quite palatable after drowning it in soy sauce. Wish I could say the same for the eel! It was ghastly and no amount of Soy sauce or wasabi (green horseradish) could make a difference. The egg custard and watery noodles offered little comfort. But atleast, I had mastered the use of my chopsticks to an extent unlike my hubby, who did not even bother to try and demanded a fork instead. We washed our meal down with 'cultured milk'. My better half loved it till he discovered that it contained over a thousand different strains of carefully cutivated bacteria. Both of us left looking slightly green. And I could not even open my mouth to scream a retaliatory Arigato, lest something far less pleasant came out.
I may not have had the best first encounter with sushi, but I was looking forward to more. Besides, everyone says it gets better after the first time.