There is another food made from soy beans that is quite popular in Japan. It is called natto and is made by fermenting steamed soy beans with a certain bacteria found in rice straw. The old method was to store steamed beans in rice straw until they fremented (ie until they went bad). One sees souvenirs at tourist shops around here shaped like bundles of rice straw stuffed with soy beans.
It has been around for about two thousand years, and in my opinion tastes like it. It is gooey and stringy so people develop a technique which consists of making quick circular motions with the chop sticks to break the slimey strands while transporting it to the mouth - somewhat annoying to watch for the unitiated.
It is a very healthful food however and I am told by my friend Daien Soga, minister of the Hongwanji temple in Kahului, Maui, who loves the stuff, that it is an acquired taste*. The Moody Minstrel - fellow American expat who has lived in Japan for something like 17 or 18 years now -confirms this as he evidently acquired a taste for it himself. Ibaraki (our fair prefecture) is known for producing excellent natto. [* "acquired taste" is the gastronomical equivalent of saying your blind date "has a nice personality".]
For you folks who don't read the comments section, after my previous post about Wordsworth restaurant, Moody informed me that they offer "natto spaghetti". He also made a poem about it using the blogger comment verification code to letters to begin each line:
"Try the Natto"
- by the Moody Minstrel:
Try the natto, Panda-B,
For it is really quite a treat
Chock full of vitamins B and E
And there is not a speck of meat.
"How bad it smells!" say gaijin, true,
Yet cheese can oft be just as bad.
Zany, stringy, slimy goo;
Uncanny pleasure to be had!
Thank you Moody. I may not try the spaghetti but I promise to try natto again next time K brings some home.