Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Balut & Natto



The first time I tried natto was in Osaka around 2004. A friend took me to one of those sushi conveyor restaurants, I was eating all the sushi I could get my hands on. After about 7-8 plates, she offered me this ordinary looking maki that I seem to have missed. It had a clump of tiny round things at the top, I assumed it was fish roe (though it didn't look like it was a salmon's). I do not hesitate when it comes to food so I popped one in my mouth pronto.

.....holy %@#$!

My taste buds were stunned. Struggling not to make a scene and embarass the host, I kept it in. Eating natto for the first time is a rare moment that's hard to explain. It had this slimy texture, an "aged to perfection" taste, and it smelled like my old sneakers.

My instincts kicked in so I grabbed a glass of water to hose it down, but it was too late. The natto was so slimy it had coated my tongue and gums, and those healthy little fermented soy beans clung to the gaps of my teeth. It was going to take more than one glass of water to bring it down. Panic set in, my eyes started to water, but I was eventually saved by a pitcher of tea. At least my friend thanked me for the short bit of amusement I gave her that night.

4 years after that ordeal, Garandee often eats natto for breakfast. I've learned to live with it.



Garandee will never touch the thing, not too many foreigners do. Balut is as gross as it can get, but I'm surprised it didn't make it to the top 3 of Discovery's "Bizzare Foods" by Andrew Zimmern (which is one of my favorite shows btw). Here's a bizarre host doing a demo on how to properly eat balut.

Occassionally I bring home a couple whenever I feel nostalgic and Dee totally hates seeing me enjoying it.

* balut photo taken from Wikipedia. I've reached my balut quota (had one 8 months ago) so I am not allowed to buy one for my blog...
* Garandee thinks the wikipedia photo was too disgusting, so I just drew one.

Garando mode:
Thinking of blog design....


Anonymous said...

Ay grabe, I can soooo relate to the natto experience ! I beg to disagree that this is the "balut" of Japan. Balut is low on image but high on taste. Nato .... a minus in all senses but...(sige na nga, always see the positive side)high on nutrition (daw). I think its equivalent is "buro", as in burong talanka, etc etc, Anyways, I have a WWII natto story - can tell you some other time. Great blog though! GGN

Garando said...

Haha that's so funny! Ah, yes buro seems to be a good counterpart for natto since it's also spoiled, er i mean fermented. I've never tried it myself, the bottled buro found at the supermarkets looks really.. odd. Maybe I'll check it out someday and write about it. Looking forward to your WWII natto story!

witsandnuts said...

Heehee, kaya pala balut and natto. =)

Garando said...

LOL. korek! Nahukay mo origin ng blog ko... ;D

Dennis Villegas said...

Ooops yun pala ang natto. Maybe I can be able to eat that. I am not so picky on food. As long as it can be digested I can eat it heheheh.

Takaw ko no. LOL

Sleepless In KL said...

My first (and only) encounter with natto was during a business dinner with some Japanese. I think it smelled like stinky socks that were left to soak overnight, with slime that coats every portion of your mouth, tongue and teeth! (I did earn major brownie points that night from the Japanese for having the courage to try it.)

Sleepless In KL said...

the video on how to eat balut is hilarious btw ;) i can't eat balut myself. i can only take penoy hehehe.