death, or dying, is how a friend (a university professor) described the experience of wasabi in his mouth. the aftermath… life from the dead! a resurrection… of sorts.
what i hear often describing the experience of wasabi in the mouth is that it is “hot” — like chili-pepper-hot. we have a word for it in tagalog — maanghang.
i don’t describe it as maanghang. instead, i describe the experience of wasabi in the mouth as an allergic reaction — a strong involuntary repulsion to a potent chemical.
when the wasabi paste touches my upper palate, it sends electrical signals into the nasal cavities, singes up and around my skull, causing my entire head to shiver and quiver for a few seconds. it takes my breath away — literally! the aftermath is a teary-eyed sigh of relief from the terrible onslaught.
but, the entire experience is altogether a pleasurable one, albeit, the initial onslaught feels terribly powerful. this is the reason, i think, my friend (the professor) describes his experience as a death, or as dying… but to live again afterwards. this is also the reason why i love to repeat the experience over and over again, a few times.
now, the wasabi i am talking about, is not the real deal wasabi that the japanese gourmets use — according to some expert. it is just an imitation. so what! it’s the death-experience that makes even the ‘alternative’ wasabi worth dipping your favourite sushi or sashimi on.
now, this death-salt & death-pepper (photo above) is wasabi-salt & wasabi-pepper — pulverized salt with pulverized wasabi and pulverized pepper with pulverized wasabi, in salt & pepper shakers. it was given by a friend who just arrived from japan. i may not be able to read the label, but i know the taste of salt and pepper, even wasabi laced salt & pepper.
i know a little japanese… he owns a ramen noodle house.