Daily WTF: Odori-don

When I was a kid, I was a very picky eater, subsisting mostly on chicken nuggets and grilled cheese from the age of seven to about 14. I wouldn’t eat beans, sour cream, lettuce, or tomatoes on my Mexican meals, and I wouldn’t even try chicken fried steak, Brussels sprouts, or fish. It took years for me to become in any way “adventurous,” consenting to try things like jellied meat, mussels, or beet salad.

So it should come as no surprise that I wouldn’t want to eat food that is either alive or otherwise moving. And yet, a firm, “No, thank you” is not enough because when I saw this video of odori-don (dancing squid rice bowl), I was so horrified that I started screaming, “Noooo!” and threw my phone across the room. Please be warned: unless this is the kind of food you’ve grown up eating, the video is legitimately disturbing.

For those of you not inclined to watch, odori-don is a Japanese dish of rice, salmon roe, and seaweed with a brainless whole squid on top. The squid is recently dead, and when you pour soy sauce on top of it, the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in its cells contracts, causing the legs to flail or “dance” about for a few seconds. Later, the squid is removed and otherwise prepared for consumption.

What is the point of this dancing squid? Shock appeal, mostly. It’s something weird or amusing to tell your friends about. And, given that certain parts of Japanese society like to eat actual live animals, it’s supposedly not too shocking to them.

To my Western, still pretty picky eating sensibilities, it is horrifying. Not for any animal cruelty reasons but simply because I don’t want to put something moving into my mouth. And the image of a headless, black-eyed squid flailing around on top of my rice, daring me to eat it, is enough to produce a lump in the back of my throat and nausea in the pit of my stomach. Clearly, I have not come that far in my food adventures.

So why am I showing you this? Because much like the Japanese film Ringu, it’s important that I, the victim, share this horror with someone else. Will it make you happy? Will it improve your life? Nope, but it makes me feel a little bit better that someone else out there feels this horror as well.

Thanks for reading! 😉

* Image taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n2kYAUPv2c

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