green death

Yesterday afternoon after a blissful morning to myself I ran to the grocery store and picked up a few things, including some sushi rolls from the grocery store deli. Sushi has got to be one of my favorite foods, so much that as soon as I backed out of my parking place at the store I was wrestling with the packaging.

At home I will often eat my sushi with a dab of wasabi. The wasabi that came in the packet looked a tad anemic compared to the stuff in my fridge. It made me think of the very mild horseradish sour cream that my mother in law serves with prime rib on Christmas day. Ah well, I thought. A little wasabi is better than none. While navigating traffic I dabbed a pea-sized bit of horseradish on my sushi and took a big bite.

That was when my head nearly exploded.

I must pause this story to tell you that we thoroughly enjoy spicy food at our house. Korean and Ethiopian food both has a kick and we are good with that. But this bite of wasabi had an unholy heat about it. Hot enough to have come straight from a volcano in the depths of the earth. It consumed my mouth with its evil fire, and then wafted its foul fumes out every orifice in my head. If you had seen me at that moment, you just might have seen flames. Green ones.

When I saw those cartoons as a kid where the characters had fire coming out their ears, I always knew it was an exaggeration. Well, that was before I tasted this wasabi. This wasabi blistered a path straight from my mouth out my ears, leaving my eardrums literally pulsating at the heat of it.

So there I was, being burned from the inside out, in the middle of traffic on one of the busiest roads in my town at noon on a Saturday afternoon. Traffic everywhere, two lanes merging into one, people coming at me out of parking lots everywhere, and here I am with my head about to come off.

Tears streamed down my face, obscuring my vision. Not only that — but I swear my throat must have spasmed at the shock of it all. The confounded sushi was a boulder in my throat. I slammed on the brakes, wondering vaguely if it is possible to do a finger swipe on yourself, since the most problematic bit was wedged too far back to spit out. (It was a good thing I did stop, because I almost rear-ended the car in front of me.)

After a minute that felt like 5, my throat unclenched enough to let the green gobbet of fire go down, and somehow I didn’t die from it after all. But five miles later my ears were still throbbing and my mouth was still burning.

You might wonder if sushi is now ruined for me. No. I tell you, I love the stuff. But I did eat the remainder of it taking very, very tiny bites.

And forget that wasabi.

That stuff needs a warning label.

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  1. if you ever come to LA i will take you to my favorite sushi place. glad this experience didn’t turn you off! 🙂

  2. lol! Mary, when I was a kid my brother played a prank of me – he offered to let me lick his *spoonful* of wasabi.

    I am convinced I am one of those people who have been resurrected back to life.

  3. As soon as I read ‘The wasabi that came in the packet looked a tad anemic’ I started laughing. Oh how I knew what you were going to do!

    Because I have done the exact same thing.

    Thankfully I wasn’t driving though.

    That sorta burn has no comparison. And I love spicy food too.

  4. I’m glad you had a morning to yourself. You needed it.

  5. I had to chuckle when I read this. Spicy food is pretty popular in our home too, but more of the Latino type. So when I bought big packages of trail mix with dried wasabi balls in it, I knew I was gonna get someone. Sure enough, one of my thirteen year olds had to act all big and brave and gobble the biggest ball in the package. Seconds later, he was gagging, with tears rolling down his face and clutching his throat while I rolled with laughter. He listens now when I warn him something is “really” hot. 🙂

  6. I once ate a huge gob of wasabi, which sat on my plate looking innocently like guacamole. I thought my hair caught on fire! I could actually hear the crackling noise. And, yes, I still love all things spicy. A hot food addiction can’t be cured that easily!

  7. THere’s no burn like wasabi burn. Oof.

  8. You’re brave – I’ve never even dared to try the green monster. My parents have been serving it at parties for years, I just walk on by, make my way to the hummus or better – the desserts.

  9. Glad to hear the experience didn’t turn you off. I am a lover of wasabi, but realize that others might feel like a dragon with flames coming out of their nostrils. Don’t let anyone strong arm you into having too much; wasabi should be added to the taste of the eater, not to some preset level.

    Be careful to note which types of sushi already have a dab of wasabi under the fish as well. Adding wasabi to these can be painful.

    I recommend eating some thinly sliced Japanese ginger in between types of sushi as well. Be careful here, because the ginger has a bite of its own.

    If you are in Mie prefecture at any time, send me a query and I can recommend some restaurants.

  10. Now you’ve got me thinking of sushi.. oh how I long for it. 7-8 weeks until baby is out and it’s considered “safe”.. but 8 months before I’m actually back in Vancouver where it’s available. Lucky you to be able to pick it up at the supermarket!!

  11. I *love* wasabi, but have to agree the unsuspecting powerful wasabi does pack quite the punch! It’s excellent to eat whenever you have a head cold and need to clear everything out. *grin*

    A natural food store here has a bulk snack mix blend called something like ‘wasabi samurai’. It’s tasty. Just watch out for the freeze-dried peas coated in wasabi. hehehe.

  12. I love wasabi…I think that’s how I want to go, with green smoke billowing out of my eyes and nose! You poor thing…my general rule of thumb is “the hotter, the better”, but occasionally I get in over my head, too…that stuff can be potent!

  13. I don’t go near that stuff…wow and in traffic too…

  14. Great post – glad you didn’t rearend that unsuspecting car. What would you have said, “The wasabi made me do it!”?

  15. I think what you just described is what hell must be like. And I am certain that I want to avoid it. 🙂

  16. I love hot food too. You described prefectly how I have felt on more than one occasion after eating something hot. But I would have kept putting more wasabi on and eating it. I just don’t learn…

  17. I came over to your site for the first time from Merchant Ships. When I read this I just had to comment.

    I love the sushi at my grocery store, too. I still remember the first time I used the wasabi, putting way too much on the sushi. Same results. 🙂

    Fortunately, I was at home so the flames coming out my ears and the tears in my eyes did not affect any driving!

  18. LOL!!!!! I still take my chances with wasabi but not on those occasions that I’m driving and sushi eating….I have done that leaving the grocery store many a time!!!!!!