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.