Who'd a thunk it? My lil' Billie just chomped down strips of pickled ginger and laughed like an invincible super eater, swooping into my bowl, snatching more.
Yes friends, followers and lovers of all things Japanese, we took our test-case daughter to the Ramen Kan Noodle Bar in Bondi Junction. This bustling hot spot was our local cheapo "fine" dining before Queen Billie popped into our food excursions. With all of our brave eating in the US recently, we decided to chance a night on the town with chop sticks.
We ordered a variety of entrees including sashimi and seaweed salad, neither of which we tried on Billie. However, the salted and steamed edamame had her demanding and squealing with glass shattering glee. We slid each soybean out of its furry skin into a red bowl. She plucked from the heap deftly with thumb and forefinger, stuffing each slippery bean into her sticky maw.
Next we sliced off a chunk of teriyaki salmon and chopstick-fed her. Her eyes bulged for a moment at the savory morsel, she chewed and was hooked. More, more, more! We should have ordered her a plate of her own fish. All this sharing was taking its toll on my pile of goodies.
Then came the agedashi tofu, in sweet mirin-tinged broth, light tempura batter and fluttering benito flakes. Devoured with a smirk.
What was left? Just a few lone, cold, soybeans, a wrecked glob of wasabe, several strands of seaweed and a few limp strips of pickled ginger. She tasted the seaweed, stretched the slime string out of her mouth, inspected, judged and swung a wild left fist, tossing the soggy leaf to the tiles.
We gave her a pinky nail's worth of ginger. Again, her eyes went wide. Her tongue was on a roller-coaster. She pursed her lips, pulled the chunk out, surveyed it... put it back in her mouth; smacking her lips, scrunching her nose and swallowing. I couldn't believe it. She pointed to the few remaining curls of yellow dynamo condiment on my plate. "More ginger", she mimed and grunted. We appeased her like good parent slaves.
We laughed, "how is she doing this?" Astounded, Sarah and I each tried a raw piece ourselves- not with the soy sauce, the raw fish- just a shaving of ginger, soaked in vinegar. Woah! Clears the sinuses. Gives you whisky breath. But Billie thought it was candy.
I don't want to give the impression that we treat our daughter like a lab rabbit but I had to offer her one final test- a cold edamame bean squeezed from it's pod, dug from it's bowl. I smear a skerrick of wasabi on. Sarah protests. It's cruel. It's a trick. The horseradish might scald her gums. Call me evil, I was curious.
Billie sucked the bean straight in. At first, we thought, "she's just swallowed it and missed the wasabi", but no. Chewing, pulling it out, looking at it, turning it over... back into the mouth.
Three more wasabi smeared beans and she reaches for her sippy cup with a cheeky grin. "Slurp! Ahh!"
Her eyes ask us, "Is that all you got?"
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