Tuesday, November 13, 2007

School lunch

One of the things about teaching in elementary school is that you have to eat lunch with the kids. Usually it's not that bad - they ask questions if they're bold enough, and since you get the same questions over and over again, it's not bad Japanese practice (what? You thought they'd ask in English?). The food is average school food. Well, average for Japan. Quality is about what you'd find anywhere in the US, but the type of food you get is completely different. I'd thought the worst was the cold slab of squid covered in some tasteless 'sauce.' Then Monday happened.

I try to be adventurous, but some stuff you just can't choke down. And being from Indiana, I just have a revulsion for certain things. Like fish. Now, I love fish, but I prefer my fish cut up and easily eaten, without the difficult things like bones, tails, and heads. But Monday's lunch was whole fried fish, each about six inches long. And I mean whole - I don't think the thing was gutted, even. The idea of eating whatever said fish had lined up to be expelled while doing it's fishy business doesn't exactly appeal to me. And, because I'm a grown-up, the kids had decided I need extra nourishment and gave me two of the little buggers.

Fortunately, the lunch also included a hot dog bun-shaped roll, conveniently sliced down the center. The first-graders I was dining with tucked in, and after poking my fish for a bit, I stuffed one into the bread and bit down on the head. It'd been fried thoroughly so the bones weren't too bad, though the spinal column gave me some trouble. I chowed down, trying to avoid looking into the ever-shrinking cross section of the half-fish. I was starting to worry when I got to the entrails, and didn't look at all. Eventually I noticed a change in the flavor and glanced down. My stomach churned and I showed it to the little kid next to me, who'd been staring throughout the meal at my giant, freakishly blue eyes. "Oh, you're lucky, you got the pregnant one," he exclaimed (well, something to that effect, anyway).

And thus ended my appetite, looking at a fishbelly full of little white eggs. Yuck.

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