I am nomad. Hear me roar.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Desperately Seeking Goya

I happened upon a Okinawan restaurant, offering a live show at about dinnertime today, so despite the fact that I was headed somewhere completely different I went in. I'm very glad I did, not only did I find the live traditional Okinawan music fun and engaging but I also found a pork hot pot that was to die for. Boiled pork pieces with nori and tofu, in a bacon broth that was exquisite, despite being decidedly full at the end of my meal I was still disappointed to discover the bowl was empty. Still I sat, soaking in the sounds of the Okinawan three-piece band, still chomping on the other highlight f my meal, which was finally finding a Goya dish I enjoy.

Goya is a vegetable, or a fruit, I'm not entirely certain which, which is found in Okinawa. They call it a bitter melon when it is translated, but it's unlike any melon I have ever had. It looks like a cucumber that has contracted acne or some horrible skin disease causing it to grow lumps all over the outside of it. It tastes more sour than bitter, and it is available everywhere, and I mean everywhere in Naha, if not in actually food form then in some kind of souvenir. Hello Kitty and Monchichi's dressed up as Goya, Goya-zilla T-shirts, and my personal favourite, Goya shaped benches lining the streets. I have spent the last couple of days trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.

My first Goya experience was a Goya Hotdog from Mos Burger, and I must admit I didn't really expect much of this one before I tried it. It wasn't good.

Not to be deterred, and knowing there had to be more to this Goya thing, I kept exploring the world of Goya. I tried Goya icecream, which was an interesting experience. I tried Goya omelette, which was starting to move in the right direction. But tonight, tonight when I had all but given up, I ordered the Goya salad at the Okinawan restaurant. Winner. Finally I understand the preoccupation with this funny looking green thing. It was served raw with a vinegar and chilli dressing, the sour crunch of the bitter melon, offsetting the sweet rice vinegar, with just a hint of heat from the chillies was delicious.

I was so impressed that later that week I bought the T-shirt.

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