Death by Wasabi

January 1, 1995

in essays

Sushi for lunch is a wonderful thing. Sushi for any meal is a wonderful thing,
but sushi for lunch makes you forget all the horrors of the morning and prepares
you well for the horrors of the afternoon.

I went with my friend Jamie for sushi for
lunch today. The actual sushi meal was uneventful; what really makes this
an incident was what then occurred after the meal itself.

We ate enough sushi to smother a small child, and we were left with the bill
and a rather large lump of leftover wasabi. Both of us are quite voracious
wasabi eaters to begin with, him slightly more so than I, and we tend to eat
even more wasabi when we have sushi together due to a sort of unspoken competition
between us to see who can stand the most pain. This last chunk of wasabi was
actually our third of the meal; we had managed to work through two other lumps
before the last dish of sushi appeared. And so it sat there after we were
done, forlornly, alone, on the empty plate.

I looked at the wasabi. Jamie looked at the wasabi. The wasabi looked back
at us. Jamie dared me to eat the wasabi. I said no. Jamie offered to pay for
the sushi if I ate the wasabi. I said no. Jamie called me chicken. I agreed.
Jamie made chicken noises. I just smiled.

Jamie took a small chunk of wasabi on the tip of his chopstick and ate it.
He did this several times.

OK, thought I, and did the same. I woundn’t give him the satisfaction of
eating the whole mass of it, but I could play this game. It wasn’t that bad,
in small chunks, and if you ate just enough of it to hurt, and take more just
as the pain started to recede, you could ride on the fine edge of the pain.
Glorious.

In short, we ate the entire lump of wasabi, daring each other to eat bigger
and bigger chunks of it giggling at the other’s pain. Jamie did better than
I, admittedly, including one last huge blot as we finished. I wasn’t sure
he was going to come back from that one.

After was had finished off the lot of it, we paid the bill and left. And
in no short order discovered a small problem.

In case you haven’t been moronic enough to try this, the initial sinus-searing
pain of the wasabi after you first eat it is only the beginning. It you eat
a whole chunk of it, as we did, all by itself with no rice to cushion it,
it sits and slowly eats through the walls of your stomach. This is not at
all a pleasant experience. This is not at all something you want to try. This
is not at all something I intend to do again if I can help it. Don’t try this
at home.

Jamie has quite a bit more experience with wasabi than I, as he eats sushi
more often than I do with folks who know thier wasabi. I asked him why the
hell he had eaten it, and lured me into eating it as well, if it was going
to cause us this much pain. It turns out that although Jamie brags of eating
lots of wasabi, and has been dared to eat that much wasabi much in the same
way he had dared me, he hadn’t actually *done* it before.

I am writing this an hour later and there is still a small demon in my stomach
scratching to get out. And its small and green and nasty. It murdered the
antacid I gave it, and laughed.

I just want to state, for the record, that I don’t think I can eat sushi
with Jamie anymore. Its too dangerous.