A lesson from a meal

I have to confess that I love food! In the pursuit of taste, I enjoy exploring various cuisine when I am overseas.

The opportunity presented itself in Aomori.

The meal looks like this.

It is advertised as authentic local cusine.

1. I have to admit that it disappointed me greatly when I took my first bite. I thought it tasted horrible. Then I realised the culprit in my mind.

1st of all is the scallop baked in miso sauce. The word miso invoked a relished moment in Koyasan. That miso left a fragrant aftertaste in my mouth. This miso tasted bland and ordinary. Next is the size of the scallop. Again the word scallop had invoked memory of scallop as large as a tennis ball in Hokkaido. This one is smaller. The problem is with me. I came into the restaurant with pre concieved expectations that were based on past experience. As I took the 1st bite of the scallop, I was still living in the past. A strong craving for a past experience. I can sense that grouchy feeling creeping into my mind.

Caught it in time!

This is Aomori, not Koyasan or Hokkaido! This dish is a nourishment meal prepared by local housewife for her family. Using the most basic ingredients and improvisation. Baking fresh scallop in its shell, putting in an egg (in the olden days, eggs are hard to come by) then seasoned with miso. That is an authentic cuisine. From that perspective, I can enjoy the scallop better.

Lesson 1. Do not let past experience cloud our present moment. Let the past be past and appreciate the present. Especially in any relations. People change. Expecting everyone around us to remain the same is ignorance.

2. I really have no idea what is in that dish labelled number 2. I hate to use the word slimy to describe a dish but that was exactly how it taste. Slimy and salty with bits of raw seafood (I think).

After the experience with the scallop, I decided to open my mind and appreciate the local culture. But that gooey stuff in my mouth is freaking me out.

“What if I get sick after eating it. There must be tons of bacterial in it.”

“Good bacterial from the fermentation process.”

“But it taste sooooo weird”

“That’s local cuisine I was dying to experience.”

The arguments with myself continued in my head.

I decides to try it again. This time, along with a mouthful of hot steamed rice. Surprisingly, the taste became more acceptable. The plain bland rice mellowed the saltiness and complimented this side dish.

In the olden days when there wasn’t any fridge, people would ferment raw seafood to keep it edible over a period of time.

Faced with an unfamiliar situations, my initial reaction is to reject. That is aversion.

Caught it in time!

I managed to embrace the slimy gooey salty taste of fermented seafood at the end of the meal. Yup I finished it and enjoyed it.

Lesson learned. By suspressing aversion to unfamiliar situation, I learned to appreciate new experience.

3. Yeah! Cod fish in miso soup.

Wait a minute. There are fish bones in my soup! And there are parts of the fish that I usually dump into the bin.

Is that intestine? Oh, fish does not have intestine. right? Or is that bits of fish stomach? Surely some internal organs. I still cannot figure out what was in that soup.

So I was fishing for bits of cod fish meat, trying to appreciate the bits and pieces of the fish in the soup. Beginning to get annoyed at the effort needed to avoid choking on fish bone. Should I just leave the soup alone?

Maybe I should just drink the soup.

Surprising, it doesn’t taste fishy at all. With all the fish innards in it. How did they cook this?

My craving for cod fish meat almost made me miss the point altogether. The main focus is the soup. Yet I got distracted by the bones and innards. Craving for fish meat in a dish that is made of innards! Silly me.

The soup taste fresh! Wonderful.

Lesson 3. Do not be confused or distracted by the minor issues in life and miss the point, Living!

We may wish that our life turns out to be different from the one we are living. There may be unpleasantness in our current situation. But with wisdom in us, we make good with what we have. We continue to live and appreciate living.

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