The Louder the Better

“Put down your plate,” my Aunt Lorrie whispers through laughter. She had taken me—and me alone, not my brother and my sister—to IHOP. I forget why I was singled out, but I felt special.

This was during the early years of my decade-long pancake obsession (from about age 6-16) and after the last of the pancake was in me, I slanted the plate toward my face and started to lick the remaining syrup.

This was clearly not appropriate in a Southern Jersey restaurant. Okay, no jokes. In any US restaurant. We just don’t show that sort of oneness with our food.

It’s probably from our stuffy British ancestors. But in America we have certain stoic standards of eating. Plates and bowls are kept on the table. No noises should utter from our mouths, except maybe a soft mmmm.

Being a dramatic type, I will show my appreciation through an extended closing of the eyes so that I may tune out the rest of the table to fully concentrate on the bite within me. I may utter a slightly-louder-than-normal mmmm. But that’s all. That’s all we do to communicate deliciousness. Well, and tip. But that’s another story.

Meanwhile, in Japan they’ve realized eating is a full-body sport. Chopsticks become an extension of the hand in a way that sharp metal objects cannot. It is fully expected that when eating one will bring a bowl of rice or noodles up to her face. Shoveling in rice. Slurping up noodle soup.

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Fourteen Hours

Wow. As you’re reading this I will be on a 14 -hour flight to Toyko. Holy poop balls.

Instead of printing our itineraries, properly rolling clothes and desperately seeking out sleeping pills, 80 and I watched Andrew Zimmerman’s fucked-up eating show, Bizarre Foods. His Japan episode, of course.

And my lord I’m terrified. I know the whole point of his show is to eat the craziest shit possible, but it still made me really nervous, yet excited, for the very new animals I will be eating. Or try to eat. Or try not to puke up.

This clip is particularly interesting. (And Osaka is one of our stops!) At the very end of this segment you’ll see Andrew eating raw horse. It’s actually raw horse mane: the strip of tissue horse hair is attached to. He calls it buttery.

So dudes. Wish me luck, as 80 and I fuck shit up on the other side of the world. Or at least take pictures that make us look like we’re cool.