You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!
When I first got to Japan, I made a goal to try any food that was offered to me. Sea snails (freshly cracked out of their shells and still alive), check. Sea cucumber, check. Shiokara (fermented salty squid), check. I’ve encountered some of the grossest edible things I’ve ever seen, but stuck to my goal, tried not to think about the slimy mess in front of me, and ate the new food.
To up the ante on my food challenge, I told myself that I would eat every dish that was served in kyuushoku (school lunch). The main reason I took this challenge is that I think it sets a good example for the kids, who are made to sit at the lunch table until they finish every bite of their food. Usually, completing my goal isn’t a chore at all. I’ve had some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever encountered in Japan served to me in the lunchroom at school. But it hasn’t all been easy. I’m not a fan of shishamo (pregnant smelt fish) which are eaten with head, eyes, tail, bones…everything, intact. As unappealing as shishamo is to me, I still manage to eat all of them when they are served in the school lunch.
Unfortunately, my undefeated school lunch record has come to an end.