02 September 2010

In the Stinky Club

I like to eat interesting foods. I have a pretty wide palate. I am gastronomically adventurous. But my dinner tonight stretched my palate practically to the breaking point. I tried a bite, a very small bite, of stinky tofu. What is stinky tofu, you ask? It is tofu that has been soaked for a day in a fermented brine. The brine consists of a bunch of nasty ingredients, apparently. Wikipedia says that stinky tofu smells worse than it tastes. Clearly, I ate a different kind of stinky tofu than the Wiki experts did.

I ate a minuscule piece. It was a not-to-be-repeated experience, but I am glad that I did give it a whirl. But HOLY CRAP, THAT SHIT TASTES BAD.

Why did I eat it? Well, I had dinner with John the Scientist, who is a connoisseur of the stuff. He's even convinced a relatively normal friend of mine to try this stuff. I figured that it wouldn't kill me, although I did worry that I would cast up my crumpets, so to speak, at the table.

I got to the restaurant first. I have a very sensitive nose and smells easily bother me. As soon as I walked into the joint, I noticed a slightly perturbing smell of rotten fried, dirty sweat socks.

We ordered a bunch of different foods -- I allowed John to pick, just telling him that I hate ginger and black pepper and I prefer not to eat items that look like what they were prior to cooking, like chicken feet or shrimp with the eyes still attached (barf!). John ordered Taiwanese hamburgers (which are pork bits and cilantro and some sweet stuff -- totally yummy!), oyster pancakes (I liked everything about those except the oysters), a beef noodle dish (also really good, can't remember its real name), and jellyfish. I have issues with food consistency and was worried about the jellyfish (see it wiggle? see it jiggle?). It has a softer consistency than really good fresh squid, but is along that continuum. It was also yummy. A really boring squid/mushroom soup rounded out the food choices. Well, except for the (dum, dum, dum...) stinky tofu.

John ordered a stinky tofu appetizer. It arrived with the rest of the food and sat on his side of the table about as far from me as possible. It stared at me. It attracted me. I couldn't stop looking at it. It made me nervous. John said that it was much less overtly smelly than the stuff he ate in Taiwan and the stuff he ate with Nathan. However, I could smell it quite well, even though it was as far from me as possible while still remaining on our table. At the end of the meal, John lined up the food that would be his stinky tofu chasers and bit off a sizable bite of a piece. His face sort of scrunched up and screwed around to one side. Then he ate his chasers. Apparently, though this stinky tofu was less smelly, it was pretty strong stuff.

I kept eying it. I wanted to try it, but I didn't want to. It smelled awful. Truly disgusting -- like fried, 10-day-old vomit. John picked a piece off one of the big chunks and gave it to me. It sat on my little plate for a while. I picked it up and looked at it and (unfortunately) smelled it. That was the barrier. If I ate this damn thing, I knew that I'd be putting something that smelled that nasty into my mouth. On purpose. By my own choice. John didn't pressure me at all. (It stank!) But eventually, after much waffling and hesitation, I broke off a smaller piece and put it in my mouth

HOLY FREAKING SHIT! It tasted WORSE than it smelled. But I swallowed quickly, chased it down with some noodles, and didn't puke up my dinner. .I won't ever try it again, but I'm glad that I did eat it, if only for the bragging rights. That shit should be bottled as an appetite suppressant. I am not sure when I will want to eat again. Perhaps next week. But I now consider myself a lifetime member of the Stinky Tofu Club.

And John went back to his hotel (on the Metro) carrying the leftover stinky tofu. I wouldn't want to share a seat with him on the train...

9 comments:

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

Good to see you back.

Have never run into stinky tofu, don't think I want to either.

MWT said...

Congrats on your food bravery! :)

And welcome to the club. :p

Nathan said...

I'm pretty sure I resent being called "normal".

Claudia said...

Heh! Welcome back! [Insert Happy Dance(TM)]

neurondoc said...

Nathan -- fine, I changed it to "relatively normal".

Xine said...

You're braver than I am! And welcome back. Nice to see you blogging again.

Anne C. said...

I'm not sure I agree with even "relatively normal" as a descriptor for Nathan, but otherwise...
Congratulations! Bravery is one of my favorite virtues. :D

Nathan said...

I have a personal acquaintance with that particular cringe!

Shawn Powers said...

I'm with you -- I'd eat it too. Probably half pure morbid curiosity, and half bragging rights.

Also, I need to get to a big town apparently. Half the stuff you mentioned doesn't even sound like food. (But I'd try it all too, lol)

Congrats!