Natto is Nothing . . . Try Funazushi

From a travel guide to Hikone, a town near Osaka:

But natto is nothing. The real test of gastronomic mettle in [Japan] is funazushi.

News photo
A challenging plate of funazushi.

This forerunner of all sushi comprises fish that have first been salted and then had the salt soaked out before being packed into large crocks between layers of cooked rice and left to “mature” for two or three years. The resulting utterly ungodly stench from this finny fare is enough to make a grown man practically keel over.

But, reflecting that some fine-tasting cheeses have a rancidity not unlike that of diaper contents, I tried it. And of course the stuff tastes exactly like it stinks. The official guide to Hikone cheerfully observes that funazushi is often referred to as the “king of delicacies.”

3 Responses to “Natto is Nothing . . . Try Funazushi”

  1. Aaron Blaisdell Says:

    I’ll try anything twice. Although it took more than 2x to come to enjoy durien–the king of fruits. I wonder how long it would take me to come to enjoy funazushi? If it’s anything like the fermented high-vitamin cod liver oil I drink daily, then perhaps not long at all. ;-)

  2. marmolillo Says:

    Sound like the Roman Garum:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garum

    For them it was a delicatessen, but not for everybody even in those days. According to experts the taste of fermented garum would be challenging for standards gourmets.

  3. Melissa Says:

    Sound like the Swedish Surstr├â┬Âmming