Project Gastronome, Day 8: Natto


True confession: when I was still in the planning stages of Project Gastronome, there was one food that I wanted to try very, very badly - whale meat.  Believe me, I know all of the horror stories about how whales are killed, and the excuses that the remaining countries that permit whaling have had to make on its behalf.  I saw The Cove.  I'm fully aware of the moral weight attached to whale meat.  Doesn't matter.  Sometimes you get an itch, and you've got to scratch it.  Reading this article at Slate made me even more curious.

My (admittedly limited) research about how to get some whale led me to this conclusion - it is not legal to purchase whale meat in the USA.  However, if you happen to have friends who are in Japan or are members of Alaskan Inuit tribes (who are still allowed to hunt whales on a limited basis), it doesn't appear to be illegal for them to send you some out of the kindness of their heart.  Having lived in Texas my whole life, I have no Inuit friends, but I do have two friends who live in Japan!  I wrote to both of them to ask if they'd be willing to assist me with this.  I admitted that I didn't even know the forms that whale meat comes in, but I'd be happy any way I could get it, jerkied, canned, or even in a cooler full of dry ice.

I sent my messages on a Thursday, the day before the horrible earthquake.  Friday was the quake.  And on Saturday, like a flower out of rubble, came this message from my friend Nick:
See what happens when you ask a vegetarian in Japan to send you whale meat? The whole planet jerks with revulsion! Ha!
<assurances that he and his wife are OK, some discussion of my project>
Might I suggest though that you try something nice and vegetarian like natto, though?
This is my very roundabout way of explaining how natto found its way into Project Gastronome.

Natto is fermented soy beans.  When you put it like that, it doesn't even sound so bad, right?  When I opened the package, I saw that they had even been kind enough to include some little flavoring packets for me!
The past week of experiences have taught me to brace myself for an offensive smell when I open a package, but I needn't have worried with natto.  It had kind of a nutty fragrance, crossed with the scent of soy sauce.  I added the flavor packets and stirred them in, and... I don't want to spoil what happened next before you have a chance to watch it.

You know how salty soy sauce is?  Now imagine that it wasn't in liquid form, but was instead in solid little pellets that you had to chew and swallow, and also it has been sitting in a bacterial culture for a long, long time.  Salty, saltier, saltiest - it was like being mouth-raped with a giant wiener made of salt.

Just a reminder, don't miss your chance to take part in the finale of Project Gastronome!  Set your mind at ease, you won't have to eat anything disgusting.  It's going to be a treat!


Andrea G. said...

you cut the top of your head off! Just being an amature DOP here. That look on your face as you had your first swallow was HILARIOUS!! You looked a bit like the Joker! :D

Danny said...

This is the disadvantage of shooting by myself, there's nobody to tell me I messed up the frame. I sure wasn't going to shoot it again with another container, though.

Ali said...

OMG! did you do a pirate "arghhh!" at the natto?! and, the fact that you can't even SPEAK until you've had water... i LOVE the person who guilted you into eating the whole container!

Danny said...

I needed to let the unpleasant feelings out somehow, and my body was too salty to remember any actual words.

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