tonight i tried natto for the second time. the first was in japan in 1999, and i didn't care for it at all. at that time i only ate a small bite. tonight, nearly a decade later, a couple friends and i asked for it at a local sushi restaurant. they prepared it in the gunkan style, where the rice is wrapped in a wide strip of nori that rises like a wall around the rice ball, with space to fill with a topping. the way that uni is often served as sushi.
the natto was beaten in a bowl with raw egg, chopped green onions and shiso leaf. i struggled so hard to get it down my throat. my two friends didn't like it either, but managed to swallow it without any drama. i was two feet from my chef, trying not to vomit (i'm sorry if this is graphic) in my mouth, draining my water and sake in the process. i was mortified and embarrassed.
now look...i am not a picky eater. there are almost no foods that i HATE. i have always been able to eat things i didn't like in company, so as not to be rude or an embarassing guest. i'm not fond of most canned tuna, or at least the water-packed variety in the US. i dislike mayonnaise, but there are certain foods that i think benefit from it. i can eat almost anything else. but this defeats me.
however, i believe in trying to acquire tastes for foods, even if you don't like them. i will give natto maybe three more tries before writing it off completely. i mean, i usually like pungent, strong tasting fermented foods.
so my question to you natto fans out there, what exactly about it do you love? and other than mixed with raw egg, how do you like to eat it? i don't object to it's texture. the sliminess doesn't put me off. but can you tell me what i'm missing? and to those that might say "you don't like it, so don't worry about it", i want to stress that i believe in pushing my palate and learning to appreciate difficult foods. ideally, i'd like to get over my dislike of canned tuna and mayonnaise. in the unlikely event that i'm blessed with the opportunity to live and eat in japan for an extended period of time, i'd rather not gag in front of any more chefs, hosts, home cooks, or new friends.
thank you for any insight you might be able to give.