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!This is my very roundabout way of explaining how natto found its way into Project Gastronome.
<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?
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!
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!