Thursday, July 3, 2008

Middle of week four and raw horse meat

First off, Josh is coming today! Probably in about a half hour so I need to write quickly! And we are off to Kyoto and Osaka first thing tomorrow so I won't be around to read your horrified comments until Sunday :)

And I know why you clicked on the blog--you want to hear about the horse meat. But I'm going to make you wait for that information (no, no, don't scroll down the page! You'll get it in a minute!).

First off, another day, another typical Japanese food. I have this list of iconic Japanese foods that I need to make sure to eat--and udon was on that list. I was pretty tasty. No idea what that white product is but I usually choose against eating it.

I also got some form of soup. I wasn't real impressed with it, so I didn't bother finishing it.

One of the cooler things I did last week--I had to go (by myself, but I do most things in Japan by myself) somewhere for work. On the way back to the train station, I saw a mysterious set of stairs.

I don't know who could see such awesome looking stairs and not go up them! So I did.

I was greeted by statues. I was at an old shrine! And there were no tourists at it at all, just people enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

So I decided to go up to the shrine, which was very beautiful.

There was a box that said 10 yen. Ten yen is about ten cents (slightly less)--but what costs ten yen?

I looked inside the box. Little pieces of paper! I figured each little piece of paper costs ten yen (slid into the slots).

The paper was a fortune (I think)! I couldn't read it but I assume it was telling me I had good fortune of some sort :)

I figured I was then supposed to tie on the line, so I did. I'm not very good at tying paper, so there was nothing pretty about mine, but I assume it doesn't matter.

There was also a big marble well.

I haven't the slightest clue what it was for. So I didn't touch it :) The dragon on the right side was pretty cool though!

I just find it amazing that something this old and peaceful is set smack-dab in the middle of such a huge bustling city. Really, that is the jutxaposition of Japan though.

So some of my coworkers took me out to eat. It started out innocently enough--grilled peppers were the first course, no problem. I'm not a huge pepper fan but these were pretty good.

Then came the bacon wrapped asparagus (and might I say, bacon wrapped asparagus is incredibly delicious). Some chicken yakitori--not real interesting or impressive, but also not strange. I have been saying that I will eat anything that they put in front of me because I want a full cultural experience, not one that has been sanitized for my foreign constitution.

So those were no problem. Then we moved on to squid legs--still no problem. Hey, I'm Italian, squid isn't always impossible to recognize and fried within an inch of recognizableness. In fact, the squid legs were really delicious--almost crispy. Still going good!

And the alcohol--grapefruit sours! Wow are these good--and you know they are healthy because they have grapefruit in them--and lots of pulp! The alcohol is sonchu...and it's strong.

And then it happened...."So. Do you want to try raw horse meat?"

Uh oh. If I stick to my plan, I absolutely have to eat this. It's one of those dishes that the Japanese eat (and love) but Americans are horrified by. That being said, I don't have a huge moral problem with horse meat like I did with shark's fin soup, and I ate that in China. So, I had no choice.

It was recommended that I load some garlic onto the meat, some green onion, dip it in the soy sauce, and eat it before it has a chance to unfreeze.

So how was it? Not bad! Granted, I was expecting to feel the need to vomit, so it isn't real difficult to be deemed better than that. My mom asked if it tasted like chicken--no, definately not. I would say it tastes kind of like beef, but sweeter. Not sweet like candy, but almost sweet like milk or corn--which would explain why the Japanese like it, because both milk and corn are absurdly popular over here. Would I ever order it? No, but if it was on the table, I might try it again. And next time I'm in Europe, maybe I'll try someone's horse dish if they order it--last time I was in Rome I refused (and horse was on about every menu).

The rest of the meal was also interesting. I ate fish whole--head on, entrails intact, bones and all--and these fish were considerably bigger than sardines. I ate fried rice triangles, fried noodles, daikon salad, various types of fish. And I ate small intestines. Now I fully intended to hate small intestines but they were a heckava lot better than tripe (although that isn't saying much).

So that's all! Mmmm...small intestines!


  1. How exciting to have Josh coming! Hope you both have fun.

    Wow, reading this confirms what a food wuss I am. Although I totally agree with your ideal of full cultural experience. Though, in India that extended more to wanting to eat local "style" such as sambar with your fingers. (It's a veg. stew/rice dish similar in texture to Jambalaya) - there's a trick to it. :)

  2. hmm i might have skipped over the intestines part since i'm eating. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to meat products

  3. Well ... I can't wait to see the NEXT bunch of photos. Congrats to you both! :D

    Blather From Brooklyn

  4. Hi! Just wanted to tell you that I've really enjoyed reading your blog. My husband grew up in Okinawa and we recently went to Japan and Okinawa for a visit. We went to a traditional spa (onsen) with some Japanese friends. Being open to a new cultural experience and not wanting to be rude to our hosts, my family and I ate raw horse too. I must say, it wasn't half bad and I would probably try it again. I would also love to try more of their snack foods as they are very interesting! Thank you for sharing your journey. (highlandsgirl28 OLS)

  5. Haha - I love it. What is up with Asians and the raw stuff. I can do seafood, and I like my steak pink, but some things should not be eaten raw. I wil let you know how the dog tasting goes on Friday - yum!


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