Saturday, 6 July 2013

Wasabi Ice Cream and the One That Got Away

Last night my wife Katie and I decided to treat ourselves to a meal out to celebrate the end of the working week. We settled on Japanese and tried a fairly new restaurant that we had never been to before. The food was good and the service excellent. So much so that when it was time for dessert we were willing to accept the waitress’s recommendations. If you can remember the title of this post then you will appreciate the extent of the trust that we had placed in her.

There was a time not too long ago when chilli chocolate was considered “out there”.  This now seems like a long, long time ago. I am a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, but I have always had a bit of a problem when it comes to their interpretation of horseradish. If even the tiniest bit touches my tongue I feel like I have had a dagger thrust into the back of my head followed by a snort of napalm. Suffice to say, it never ends pleasantly. I was therefore, rather surprised that I quite liked the dessert version.

Wasabi ice cream tastes exactly like one would expect wasabi ice cream to taste. The strange thing is that it is actually rather good. There was no assault on the back of my skull or inside of my nostrils, just a spicy tingle on the tip of my tongue. Best of all, it still had the comforting effect of regular ice cream that was like a big emotional hug, which left me feeling all fuzzy inside. I really like wasabi ice cream. This leads me nicely onto what I will probably always regard as my biggest regret as a writer. The setting of which was also a Japanese restaurant.

We were in Hong Kong, staying in the Kowloon district, which though frequented by many tourists was by no means overtly westernized. Apart from the upmarket places on the harbour front, the restaurants were much more authentically Chinese than we were used to. Until then, I was not even aware that “seal blubber” was something that anybody would ever consider eating.

After several unsure circuits of the eating districts, we settled on the Japanese place. Although not exactly like Japanese restaurants back home, it still felt like more familiar ground than the Chinese places (which were nothing at all like Chinese restaurants back home). The best thing was that we could get a good look at all of the dishes before ordering as they were displayed on the conveyor belt. All of the dishes that is, except one. In its place was a card that simply read “fresh LIVE Octopus”.

I have stated in the past how I think that a writer needs to live life to the fullest. They must put themselves into the mindset of never saying no. A writer writes based on their experiences, so to be the best that one can be, one really needs to fill ones memory bank with as many experiences as possible. In my time I have eaten camel, kangaroo, emu, crocodile and even dried fish heads (the Filipino equivalent of kippers for breakfast). Yet, I was not brave enough to try the live octopus.

Regardless of whether or not I would have been able to eat or even kill the creature is unimportant. Just being faced by such an overwhelmingly ridiculous prospect would have been enough to provide me with so unusual a life experience as to make for highly interesting writing material. If ever I needed a quirky restaurant scene in one of my books, there was the raw material right there. It was mine for the taking, but I blew it. For that, I will always be regretful. At least however, I do not have the same regret when it comes to the wasabi ice cream, which was nothing short of spectacular. And perhaps one day, one of my characters may share that experience too.

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