Natto Is NOT For Me

Natto Sushi

I have give myself some kudos.  I’ve become more of an adventuresome eater/foodie since changing my diet over a year ago.  Foods I previously wouldn’t touch or didn’t like I find myself trying and liking now.  I even put lima beans in the pot pie I made last week and didn’t mind them at all.  Not that I’m going out and eating lima beans all the time, but it’s a small step.

I’ve ventured into Indian and Thai food more with the encouragement of Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl.  When you are eating gluten-free, the more you open up your options, the happier you are when you go out to eat.

We go out for sushi about once a month and my options in Japanese restaurants are a bit limiting.  However, the sushi sustains me and is really what I want when I go out for Japanese food.  We always go to Ando for sushi.  My husband found the place when he first started coming up to Cincinnati to do on-site work for a client.  He went about once a week and became friendly with the couple that owns the restaurant and their daughter who works there as well and does some amazing desserts.  Who would have thought of balsamic vinegar ice cream?  She did and despite how odd it sounds, it was delicious, especially since her ice creams aren’t overly sweet.

But I digress.

We tend to sit at the sushi counter in the same seats (as long as it isn’t crowded) so we can watch the husband, who is also the main sushi chef.  He has simply amazing knife skills and I love to watch him butchering the fish for use in the sushi.  Sometimes I become so mesmerized that my husband has to engage me in conversation because I’ll just sit in silence and watch.

Our typical sushi order

We tend to get the same thing each time we go, but we’ll try at least one thing different that we know I’ll be able to have.

Last Friday, my husband was looking over the sushi order sheet and asked me about natto.  I just gave him a blank look.  Then he says, “You’re trying natto.”  Okay.  I’m game.

I never tried it before because it just never appealed to me.  I mean, fermented soybeans.  Not really what crave or even think about wanting to eat.  I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least try.  And if it’s wrapped up in sushi rice and nori, all the better.  Right?

It was the first piece of sushi I had.  I was struck by the stringy goo that trailed the piece I took all the way to the tray.  Sushi isn’t supposed to do that.  Is it?

I believe if you’re going to try something you’ve got to just jump in and try it.  Don’t sit there and stare at it or nibble it.  Or even cut it down and drown it in some kind of sauce.  I popped the entire piece in my mouth and bit down.

Right then, I thought it would be my last bite.  It tasted like I was eating mold.  I stopped chewing and started looking around thinking, should I spit it out?  If I do, where?  My napkin?  The bowl from the yamakake?  The bathroom?

No.  Suck it up.

I started chewing again, but the taste didn’t get any better and neither did the look on my face.  The couple that owns the restaurant and their daughter were all behind the sushi counter gasping at me in horror.   I think the husband thought he did something wrong.  The wife asked if I needed to go to the bathroom or needed water.  I shook my head and pushed it all to the side of my mouth and said, “I’ll be okay.”  She got me a glass of water anyway.

My husband told them it was my first time trying natto, they all relaxed and started laughing.  He said he didn’t know which was better, the look on my face or the look on the husband’s face when he saw my face – and you know my husband was just laughing the entire time.  I’m not sure either, but I’ll never forget the looks on their faces.

I took a sip of the water and kept chewing.  I finally managed to swallow it all.  Then, I turned to my husband and said, “You need sake with that.”  It would’ve washed that awful rancid moldy taste right out of my mouth.

I know this isn’t a glowing recommendation for anyone wanting to try natto.  By all means, go ahead and try it.  There are a lot of Japanese who love eating it for breakfast in the morning with rice and a raw egg.  My husband loves it.  Now, I know for a fact that I don’t like it.

My husband said that I couldn’t say I defeated the Ninja Sushi Army that night because I wouldn’t have more than one piece of natto.  Screw that.  I owned that piece of sushi even if I didn’t like it.  I didn’t spit it out.  I didn’t throw up.  I chewed that sucker up and swallowed it.  I may have not had another piece, but I did defeat the Ninja Sushi Army.  The Natto Contingent just gave me a run for my money.

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