Disgusting makes the big time

Aug 01, 2008 by Tony Chung in Creativity, Philosophy

This afternoon my friend Jeremy sent me a link to a Business Week article on a Japanese cold drink made of eel extracts, mostly from the head and bones. Apparently the fish is an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E. My first thought was that the Japanese never cease to find new ways to disgust me.

When my old band competed in Tokyo several years ago, I thought the Japanese found interesting ways to express themselves through food, culture, media and entertainment, and lifestyle. There was nothing like a cold can of pocari sweat to quench your thirst at the end of a band practice. We worked so hard I could really have used that extracted eel drink back then. Not!

The Japanese are interesting because they like to combine things together. To them, the formula is probably, “cool – plus – cool – equals – the coolest thing ever!” But as two wrongs don’t make a right, two cool things don’t make something cooler. For instance, language: It’s not unusual to see large posters, signs, or even billboards with block lettering in the shape of the word: SENSITIVITY. Way to leap out of context straight into the uncool.

In the heart of the smoggiest city, old people ride bicycles on the sidewalk and smoke cigarettes. On these same sidewalks, fashionably-dressed men and women stood on street corners giving out free packages of facial tissue branded with advertising. I thought the practical purpose for the tissue was to cover our noses so we could breathe, but later I learned that Tokyo streets had pay toilets that weren’t stocked. Free tissue is cool. Pay toilets are uncool. Pay toilets with no tissue is totally uncool. You see where I’m going?

Anyway, this random IM post from my pal led way to a discussion about my all-time favorite delicacy, the Filipino balut. A quick Google search for balut pulled up some pretty gruesome images. Had I seen these before I was offered one, I would have thought twice. However, at the time we were preparing to serve on missions in the Philippines, and when in Manila…

Something else that popped up in my search was this list of Top 10 most disgusting foods, posted on the web in 2007. The author caught my interest immediately by introducing the list with Number 10: Kopi Luwak, a coffee featured prominently in the movie The Bucket List. I was later thrown on the floor in convulsions with this quote regarding Number 8: Bird Spit:

My experience of the nest was that it tasted slightly musty and had the texture of snot. It is probably the only pudding in my life that I could not finish!

If I should travel with yet another friend of mine to Singapore, he will surely try to get me to eat spiders. Yum… I can hardly wait.

 

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