Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beni-imo, goya, and ray fin, oh my!

Okay, anyone who knows Talya, knows I like to eat!  Experiencing the culture is only half way done unless you are eating or trying the local food.  I am glad God gave me the good sense of humor to try ALMOST anything, once.  Here are some of the foods I have tasted.  I can't say the same for Mark.

Goya:  This Japanese gourd has another name but in Okinawa they grow it and use it a lot more than the mainlanders I am thinking.  There is even a dish that is considered "Okinawan Soul Food" called Chanpuru that is cooked through out Okinawa and is a true Okinawan dish.  Have I tried Chanpuru? No.  Will I ever? NO!  The reason why?  This adventurous soul has already done my Okinawan right of passage by trying goya.  Now, for those of you like me, that aren't going to take anyone's word for it but your own, try it, and hey, YOU may like it.  There are still things I would try after someone gave me a bad review.  For those of you who take my word as good, save your taste buds for something else.  Goya is bitter!  I tried it fried, and even dipping this gourd in batter and soaking it in oil, a southern girl's dream, was not enough to save me from the bitter taste.  It's soft.  Almost reminds be of a slightly tougher avocado, but unlike an avocado the taste is not mild and I quickly found something to wash my palate with.  Want to read more about the harmless looking but not so tasting goya?  I found this website: http://www.wonder-okinawa.jp/026/e/column4.html

Sting Ray Fin:  This dish was grilled when I tried it and I don't have many words for it other than I was glad to have tried it.  Could I eat a full plate of it? No, but if offered to me again, I would take a piece.  I tasted this at the local izakaya so in that setting you wouldn't eat the whole plate anyways. (Don't know what an izakaya is? Read my 1st blog ;-) ) The ray fin reminded me of jerky in consistency.  It was chewy, crispy around the grilled edges.  It also didn't have a heavy fish taste to it which made it more pleasant than dried cuttlefish.  (Tried that yucky dish in Hawai'i)  They actually used a charcoal grill and I am finding out that with many foods in Japan, this makes all the difference in the world!

Beni-imo:  Beni-imo shall be nicknamed by me here forth, TROUBLE.  Sweet Potato Ice Cream...YUM YUM!  Blue seal, which is a popular chain  of ice cream shops on Okinawa, exclusive to Oki might I add.  You can by all kinds of flavors, think Baskin Robins.  Since the sweet potato is a staple here in Oki, I went out on a limb and tried it, and I am so glad I did.  I am now going to have trouble trying the mango or pineapple ice because I have fallen in love with beni-imo.  Go ahead, tell Mark, he knows me and I am sure he already knows.  I see a Blue Seal and I am instantly begging to go for ice cream.  Come out and visit, try the beni-imo, you will be glad you did.  It's sweet, no after taste, and very refreshing on a hot day, which we have many off!  Here is a link if you care to snoop around. http://en.blueseal.co.jp/index.html

Yakitori (best grilled on an open flame!) to Yakiniku.  Sushi, sashimi, and seaweed. Beni-imo and my continuing quest for butter fish, Mark and I are chopsticks deep in many Japanese, Korean, and most of all Okinawan dishes and I have only been here a week! We are exploring Oki and loving every minute of it.  I hope to have many pictures very soon from our Hiji Otaki hike, our Okuma Beach trip, and Kokusai Street, 10,000 Eisa Dancer fest!

Sayonara from the Scott's! 

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