Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Raw Octopus Anyone?

Sashimi is a Japanese delicacy. It consists of very fresh raw meat, most commonly fish, sliced into thin pieces.

I had my first "sashimi experience" in Tokyo, Japan following an organ concert I presented there.  The hosts of the concert had planned an elaborate reception following the concert at an exquisite restaurant.  A large group of musicians and music lovers made up the loud and celebratory party consisting of at least a dozen Japanese men, our interpreter, and two English speaking Americans.  Let the party begin!

Beautiful fish aquariums lined one wall of this incredible restaurant.  Fish swam in lazy circles creating an ever-moving wall of color.  Linen covered tables were surrounded by carved chairs and benches.  The group filed in, chose a seat, and soon drinks of all variety and steaming bowls of salted edamame appeared.  Delicious to be sure.

The conversation flowed around me yet I understood not a word.  Our interpreter was enjoying his Kirin immensely and had forgotten his non-Japanese speaking charges.  Food was ordered and ordered and ordered.  Plates and plates of interesting looking food arrived and the fun began.

Two of our hosts took it upon themselves to introduce me to the wonders of Japanese sashimi.  Through gestures and signs, I soon understood I was eating raw seafood of all sorts and types!  The taste was amazing--smooth, gentle, and flavorful.  All went well until the raw octopus arrived--at least by the gestures this is what I understood I was eating.  Suddenly it seemed that one of those sticky suction cups of an octopus arm had stuck to my throat--swallowing this large rubberband-like piece of raw octopus became a challenge.  More beer, swallow, more beer, swallow and swallow!  

As I relaxed into the evening's enjoyment, I took more notice of my surroundings.  Looking through the beautiful fish tanks, I realized the sashimi chefs were standing on the opposite side of the tanks creating their lovely sashimi and sushi delicacies.  I also became suddenly aware that as the evening progressed the aquariums were becoming less and less populated with gorgeous colorful fish as those sashimi chefs helped themselves to the fish (and octopus) to create what appeared on our plates in the form of sashimi -- very fresh raw fish sliced into thin pieces!

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