“To be or motsunabe?”… Japan

It’s been two weeks, Japan and I are still in the fresh faced honeymoon period. We haven’t had any fights yet and I haven’t noticed any of her flaws. This is how, on a cold night in September, I ended up gathered around a table with two strangers and my new equally enthusiastic partner in crime staring at a bubbling pot of pork intestine soup and questioning my life decisions.
The life decision in question was my ‘yes-man’ tactics. Agreeing to every invitation had served me well so far (my wallet disagreed) but apparently this was the turning point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone who’s easily put off by food, I’ve eaten blue steak and tried sea urchin, but the sight of the floating lumps of intestine were slightly troubling.
A quick check of my options didn’t help, explaining myself in Japanese wasn’t going to happen, the few things I could say were ‘that is tasty’ (oishii), ‘that was tasty’ (oishikatta) or ‘yes’ (hai). None of these were things I wanted to express.
Motsunabe (pork intestine soup) is a regional specialty where I’m studying, it’s cooked on your table so you stir your food as it simmers. As I watched my new Japanese companions dish up our soup, I realised escape wasn’t an option. I had to eat the offal.
The soup is thick and meaty, there’s tofu, garlic and veggies packed in, and obviously, there’s intestine. Note to self: don’t be so dramatic. Motsunabe is oishii! I’m now addicted.
After the brief moment of panic where I lost faith in Japanese cuisine, Japan and I are back on track. What’s more, three months on Japan and I are still very much in our honeymoon period.
Claire Dickson-Timmins

By Claire
at Kyushu University, Japan

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