When you live in a foreign country, there are three categories for food: the good, the bad, and the ugly –or the really bad. Fortunately, the longer I’m in Japan, the more foods move towards the good category annd less in the bad. Last week in Tokyo I tried some whale sashimi (or raw whale). Ten years ago it would have been in the ugly category…last week, it certainly wasn’t worthy of being in the good category, but it wasn’t too too bad either.
But, no matter how long I’m here, there is one food that has remained in the ugly category: Natto. Natto is, simply, fermented beans (i.e. beans that have gone moldy). According to wikipedia: Nattō (納豆?) is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans, popular especially at breakfast. A rich source of protein, nattō and the soybean paste miso formed a vital source of nutrition in feudal Japan. For some, nattō must be an acquired taste due to its powerful smell, strong flavor, and sticky consistency. In Japan nattō is most popular in the eastern regions including Kantō and Tōhoku. (For the record, we don’t live in the Kanto or Tohoku regions).
The problem is: Eric likes natto, especially its healthy factor. Because he likes it, Owen started eating it very young. And now Annie. Olivia liked her first bite. The other day at the food store, Owen started BEGGING for me to buy natto. Oh my. Here are some pictures of Owen and Annie enjoying their breakfast this morning:
By the way- one CAN learn to like natto. There is a website about two Americans in New York City who made themselves eat natto every day in order to see if they could learn to like the taste. After fifteen days, one of them began to enjoy it… after thirty days, it was actually enjoyable. I guess I could try, but -those first fifteen days might be a little too ugly…
P.S. – What is the good? Our very favorite “treat” when teh kids go to bed is: Diet A & W Rootbeer (we sometimes order it from Foreign Buyer’s Club in Kobe)…in a frosted mug that I bought for Eric at the A & W Rootbeer Stand in Okinawa. Aaahhh..