We recently entertained friends from Japan. Among the gifts they brought us was some very high-quality eel. For those of you who haven’t had eel, it doesn’t taste like chicken. However, it is delicious and, for me, one of the wonderful things I picked up during my four years in Japan. (A good friend of mine refers to wife as the best thing that happened to me in Japan. Agreed, but that’s another story.)
Now, because my boys have a Japanese mother, they have acquired tastes for a number of Japanese foods, including all the basic noodles and fried items (though the latter may also be partly due to their southern heritage). They also like some Japanese sweets. My older son is particularly fond of shrimp chips and will do anything for spicy rice crackers. He’d take them as snacks to school, if we’d let him. However, given how cruel kids can be to other kids who are different, we don’t let him take these snacks to school. My wife often finds the cracker bag empty and yells out, “Who ate all of these?” It’s one of the few times she’s not looking at me for an answer.
On the more grown-up Japanese items, my kids aren’t there yet. Eel is something of a grown-up taste, at least in my opinion. Sushi is the same. And as both are expensive items, my wife and I were content when our sons hadn’t acquired a taste for these items.
Then, there was our trip to Japan in the summer of 2008. While there, we visited the northern island of Hokkaido and went to Otaru, a wonderful little city on the sea of Japan. (Click here for my post on Otaru.) One of the things my wife wanted was good (re: expensive) sushi. We found a good restaurant and my wife eyed the menu greedily, ordering various items. Then my younger son asked to try it.
What a wonderful time for my younger son to instantly acquire a taste for sushi. Now back in the U.S., he often asks to go out for it. We indulge him when we can.
So, with the eel in front of me, I look at younger son and say, “Do you want to try some?”
My wife looks at me, horrified. “I don’t want him to acquire a taste for eel yet. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll waste it.” Still, I break off a little piece and offer it to him. His upturned nose tells me the answer.
Despite his distaste, he chews the tiny piece down anyway. My wife then notes, “you forgot to add the sauce.” I add it to my eel and give him another little taste. Same reaction.
“That was eel?” he asks. “It tastes like fish, not chicken.”
I do hope my son will someday love eel as much as I do. However, on those days where friends and family bring us eel as a gift, I’m happy not to have to share it yet.
And I will not serve Kobe beef at the house, at least until after the kids go away to college.
Note to Readers: My wife thinks I should put the this weekend in Atlanta recommendations on Thursday instead of Friday. Will try the switch.