Wednesday, October 22, 2014

i will want a fork

I am going to eat at the Japanese restaurant. My oldest son resides in Japan and he teaches English. This is pretty much what all Americans do who live in Japan. I'm thinking it might make me feel closer to him, having a meal here. He can only afford one trip home a year.

 Most ethnic restaurants in my hometown americanize their menus. There's always those cheeseburger and chicken nugget entrees at the bottom of the menu but I have heard this place is the real thing. I order the shrimp tempura. The little Asian waitress asks, "You will want a fohk?" Excuse me? "A fohk?" I'm sorry, I, what oh a fork! Yes, I will want a fork.

I have never learned to use chopsticks and I never will. I don't care how culturally cool it appears to be I will not do it. Here we have Asia, an ancient, introspectively wise culture and this is how they manuever food into their mouths? Any three-year-old knows you can pick up more sand with a shovel than a stick.

And then it arrives. Asians have cornered the market on food presentation. A work of art has been placed in front of me and I don't know whether to eat it or take it home and display it on my coffee table. There are five very long shrimps forming a little upright tent, their tails sticking straight up in the air. There is rice and dumplings and an orange with its top cut off and the fruit removed and quartered and put back into its peel. Pretty. There is sushi but that will be ignored. I know seaweed is very healthy for me, but for chrissake, it's seaweed.

Other things have been tempured. A large piece of broccoli, something square and white, something square and orange, a large golf-ball sized thing with black skin peeking through the golden panko. Eggplant? Mushroom? Bull testicle? It squishes and leaks juice into my mouth when I bite leading me to believe it is the latter of those possibilities.

The little waitress comes back smiling and bowing and I ask her what the mystery items are and she cannot say so that's disconcerting. She may not understand my English. I think the whole world should adopt bowing. It is a polite gesture and possesses a sort of dignified beauty about it. It may reduce the amount of terrorism all around us. I say it's worth a try. I leave her a large tip and I have always been a big tipper and I want that mentioned in my obituary.

As I leave the place a truck is parked outside and staff are removing food boxes and taking them into the restaurant. There is a picture of a large orange koi, an Asian goldfish  painted on the side of the truck. My Japanese-English-teaching son has these same fishes tattooed on his back.  I am wondering just what the heck I got served in there.

1 comment:

Arizaphale said...

I was taught to use chopsticks by my first serious boyfriend who was 10 years my senior and told me you had to use them if you were going to eat at a Chinese restaurant. It seemed sophisticated at the time. I note that Malaysians and Indonesians use their fingers to eat rice. They have no pretense about them.
Beetroot. Perhaps it was tempura beetroot?