I grew up in Kansas City, which, based on geography alone, is about as far as you can get from the ocean. I’m pretty sure that for that reason I pretty much viewed seafood as something that other people do. Don’t get me wrong, we did fish sticks in the oven and other natural delicacies from the sea like that, but that was about as far as I went, unless you count catfish or trout, which you shouldn’t. If it doesn’t moo, oink or cluck, it didn’t speak my language.
In high school I first heard of sushi and I just assumed someone was yankin’ my chain. A few years ago I actually tried some and survived, but still couldn’t understand the hype. Fast forward to me now living in Seattle. I have a great boss who’s taken it upon himself to help me get to know the area, including the local cuisine. One day I found out that a nearby sushi place was going to be part of my Seattleization. I was super apprehensive and debated stashing cooked meat (GNFARB) in a zip lock baggy to substitute when no one was looking. But I went along and put on a happy face.
I expected lunch to be an endurance exercise where I just fought to hold things down. My boss, thankfully, eased me into things. I started with stuff that wasn’t really sushi at all, then graduated to chunks of tuna inside some ricey goodness. Then I dared to do the big chunk of raw salmon/tuna on a little bit of rice. AND IT WAS WORKIN’ FOR ME!
Then I got a bit cocky, which is always the first sign of impending doom. I went for the squid. I took a bite and quickly realized that this slimy, pasty, chewy thing in my mouth was not something my body recognized as food. The texture was real work for my teeth, and my stomach was not ready to “catch the pass” if you know what I mean. My boss looked at me intently (while smirking broadly), and I tried to fake like it was good, but the face couldn’t lie… He almost ended up with chunks of slightly-chewed, barely-dead, squid in his lap. Thankfully it stayed put inside me (not always the case with me) as I swallowed with my eyes squeezed shut.
I have been back to the restaurant a few more times since then, and like it more and more. I actually crave it (meaning sushi in general, NOT the squid) on occasion. As a sign of change, I was in a restaurant in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and chose the sushi over KC Strip Steak…
Not to worry, we barbeque actual meat on the weekends!