There was a time when there was almost nothing more disgusting to me than the prospect of eating fish. Steamed, fried, raw or otherwise, I was not interested. Growing up in Colorado, it was never really that big of a problem for me given the distance between me and any large body of water.
Occasionally my father would catch fish and bring it home. On these nights I would find any excuse to avoid dinner. This, I knew, was a very silly thing to be caught up on. So before coming on this trip I decided that I would at least try everything once. Being open to all the new experiences that PacRim could offer is a large part of my motivation for going on this trip.
Japan, I thought, though would still be a problem. I wanted to be open but was still quite scared that I would embarrass myself, shame my family, or worse. "Maybe you will loose some weight there honey," said my mom, obnoxiously cheery. Right.
On the first night of my home stay in Japan, I was relieved that my wonderful host mom, Hiroko, only served sukiyaki (a dish with very thinly sliced beef barely cooked in a hot pot, and then dipped in raw eggs before being eaten). After the delicious dinner, she asked Kat (another Rimmie) and me if there were any sorts of food that we disliked.... I said that I didn't like fish, but that was only because I was from a place without fresh fish (technically a lie). A slow smirk spread across her face.
It would be a week before I could figure out what that smirk meant. I saw it again after yet another delicious meal. Hiroko-san asked if I had liked everything that she had prepared so far. I said that it was all really delicious (so true).
"See!! You do like fish!!" she said
"What???" I said
"Every dinner I make with some fish."
A heaviness settled in my stomach. But then I realized that it had to be all mental. I had told the truth when I said that I liked everything. So why should I suddenly feel sick when I knew that there was fish? I knew at that moment that I would have to reprogram years of self-imposed mental smoke screening. "Good," said my host mom, "tomorrow night we will have Sushi."
So the next night, my host mom along with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson, Kat and I all went to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. It was the acid test. The experience is something that I will remember as being one of the most anxious and most rewarding. The food at these restaurants is placed on a conveyor belt that passes by each table. When you see a particularly delectable piece of fish you take the plate off of the conveyor. Brilliant! I was inundated with new options. My host family had a good time trying to think of the most sushi that I should try. In one night, I ate more fish than I had in my entire life, and I loved every second of it.