Friday, 14 December 2007

Peripheral vision or when food looks back

Feeling much refreshed I feel that I am now able to describe my meal for you.

After wandering around the centre of Fukuoka looking for a suitable place to eat, we happened upon a sushi restaurant. We had been unable to find anywhere we liked the look of as any likely eating venues were full. We entered and asked if there was any room....Yes (in Japanese) but only at the counter, we agreed readily.

Now, let me explain some of the subtle nature of a good sushi restaurant. For groups of people who wish to talk with each other and have their food delivered on beautiful platters by Kimono wearing waitresses and have their drinks poured for them, two styles of room are made available.
The first is the western style, sit at a table affair with wonderful decor, full air con, flowers and you get to keep your shoes on. The second is the more traditional approach, tatami mats (which one must de-shoe to walk on), exquisitely thin cushions,sublimely simple decor and a low table of about12 inches, 30.5 cm for our metric friends, high. For those who have travelled with British Airways this will pose no problem. (I must learn to let go) Again there is table service.
The third option is the counter. The counter is best described as the Bar in an English pub. It is were the locals eat sitting on high chairs, enter into meaningful discourse after a drink or two. The Chefs hold court, passing on the wisdom of the sages of old, deftly preparing fresh food with knives that are outlawed in many countries.

One of my favourite foods is Squid. I love the taste and the texture. I asked if the chef if he had any squid as I was unable to see any in the chilled display cabinets that sit on the counter top, one is able to see the chef choose the best cut of sushi for you, you as the diner can also see what is available and have the benefit of being able to see true artists at work. The chef said he would check on the situation for me. I found this strange as I was sure that the chef would have been able to check the availability with a brief glance. He reappeared and said that he had one left and would I like it ? silly man, of course I wanted it.

There followed what I will only be able to remember as a Tommy Cooper moment. Sporting gloves and a bright orange, children's fishing net, he removed the top of a huge fish tank that I had failed to notice. The squid had seen all of its friends disappear in said fishing net and was having non of it. After a hunt that was a little one sided the chef eventually bagged my squid, much to the delight of the well versed and appreciative audience.

There then followed much knife wielding and artistic display with sea weed and choice of plate and with little fan fare (the true artist needs little or no fan fare) my squid was placed in front of me.

As I began to savour the freshness of the meat, the subtle tastes and textures, I perceived a movement on the outer limits of my peripheral vision.

The squid was still alive or at least the nervous system was in operation. The tentacles moved in automatic response to being touched,the part of the squid I had been eating was skillfully detached from the 'live' bit. This brings a whole new meaning to the words 'Fresh Fish'.
Now some may find this sort of thing bad, forgive me, I enjoy my food and would rather buy my food thus, than from some super market chiller, wrapped in plastic with god knows how many chemicals pumped into it, to give it a longer shelf life and enhance its colour.

I asked the chef if I could eat the moving bits. Much to his credit he gave me the sort of look that any good UK barman would give a tourist if said tourist asked if he could have a cherry with his pint of award winning ale, but refrained from using the same sort of language.
The chef, slowly, replied that he he would cook the 'moving' bits when I had finished the 'non moving' bits. I must point out that this conversation was performed in Japlish with much assistance from the whole counter area, to all of whom I am much indebted

It was the best squid I have had to date. The same restaurant has horse on the menu, that should be interesting.


Thea O'Brien said...

What! Oh my God.

The father of an ex-boyfriend used to have to do alot of business in Japan. He had to learn all the cultural moires and was once taken to a very posh restaurant and the food was ordered for him.

Several platters arrived all of which he ate with gusto. Then a dish called 'drunken fish' arrived. This is a live fish in alcohol and in order to not embarrass himself he had to take the fish out of the alcohol and eat it whilst it was still alive.

Still oysters are alive aren't they?

Dash said...

Ooooohhhhhh! I love squid! Your description is making me very hungry!


the bookbinder said...

Thea, I like the idea of that. I can not help wondering what the horse will be like.

Thea O'Brien said...

You cannot horse. It is wrong.

Thea O'Brien said...

I actually mean you cannot eat horse. Not you cannot horse. You probably can.