Noodles: You’re Eating What?

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I think anyone who has lived or visited Japan has had an experience of eating something which would be considered taboo in America. When I lived in Tokyo I tried  basashi (horse sashimi) and kujira (whale). Can’t say I’m a fan of either, but it seemed like it would be rude to refuse. Now of course, the Hump in Santa Monica is in trouble because a sushi chef served kujira. To serve kujira in the U.S. is just stupid, but I do admit feeling torn about the controversy. My ancestors are originally from a town near Taiji, Wakayama and when we visited, they served us kujira because it was a special occasion. I understand how they would feel insulted by the criticism coming from outsiders who don’t understand the history of the area and its reliance and reverence for the ocean. At the same time, I recall looking down at the oddly fleshy meat and having a hard time eating even a small slice. Educating rather than shouting at each other would help cross the cultural divide.

—GWEN MURANAKA

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