Yesterday I had to go to an editorial meeting at a big company that I won’t name. Let’s just say they make soy sauce. We finished my part of the meeting, which has to do with editing the current issue of their corporate masturba…I mean…”quarterly intercultural forum for the exchange of ideas on food.” The second half of the meeting is planning the next issue, which has nothing to do with me and mostly entails a couple of gasbag foodies flapping their jaws about meaningless details nobody cares about but politely pretends to…I mean…experienced food professionals graciously sharing their wisdom with us for which we are deeply grateful. I was busy writing this and not paying attention when suddenly the woman next to me asked how I feel about oden. I couldn’t help making an icky face. I like kamaboko, which is rubbery steamed fish cakes, but for oden, they boil it in dashi until it’s the consistency of watery marshmallow. There are also big hunks of smelly, squishy daikon which has been robbed of all of its crisp appeal; various shapes, sizes and colors of konnyaku, which is basically stiff, flavorless jello; and hard boiled eggs, the only part of the whole production that I can enjoy. All convenience stores sell oden, which means I have to avoid 7-11 in the cold months because the smell of theirs is particularly repulsive.
Being the only foreigner at the meeting, everyone was interested in my opinion. Fortunately, the icky face made everyone laugh.