School Lunch Challenge…failed


Warning:  For those coming in search of pictures of delicious food, please don’t read the following post.  For those looking for some bizarre Japanese food, come on in, the water’s fine.


When I first got to Japan, I made a goal to try any food that was offered to me.  Sea snails (freshly cracked out of their shells and still alive), check.  Sea cucumber, check.  Shiokara (fermented salty squid), check.  I’ve encountered some of the grossest edible things I’ve ever seen, but stuck to my goal, tried not to think about the slimy mess in front of me, and ate the new food.

To up the ante on my food challenge, I told myself that I would eat every dish  that was served in kyuushoku (school lunch).  The main reason I took this challenge is that I think it sets a good example for the kids, who are made to sit at the lunch table until they finish every bite of their food.  Usually, completing my goal isn’t a chore at all.  I’ve had some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever encountered in Japan served to me in the lunchroom at school.  But it hasn’t all been easy.  I’m not a fan of shishamo (pregnant smelt fish) which are eaten with head, eyes, tail, bones…everything, intact.  As unappealing as shishamo is to me, I still manage to eat all of them when they are served in the school lunch.

Unfortunately, my undefeated school lunch record has come to an end.

School lunch, 1. Michelle, 0

…That’s a whole lot of squid.  And don’t get me wrong, I like squid.  Khoa and I even fish for it right outside of our house in the fall and winter.  But this is a whole squid, eyes, beak, innards, boney things and all.  It looks as if they took the squid, boiled it in salt water for a while, and put it on the plate.

I tried to eat it, I really did.  I didn’t want to break my goal, but when I started to get down to the body of the squid and mystery things were squirting out left and right, I had to call it quits.  Many of the usually strict teachers, enforcers of the “eat everything on your plate” rule, couldn’t even finish it.  3/4 of the students, unable to stomach the purple sea creature, left half eaten squid on their plates.

…one kid at three of them.

So good game, school lunch.  I fought hard, but in the end, you were victorious.  I’m still going to continue the challenge of eating everything at school, so long as my nemesis, whole boiled squid, doesn’t make another appearance.

Wish me luck!