Japanese online commenters react with “BLEGH” and vomiting ASCII art.

Natto (pictured above) is easily one of the most difficult Japanese foods for foreigners to develop a liking of…or even an able-to-stand-in-close-proximity-to-ing of. That’s because natto is fermented soybeans, and its appearance, texture, and, most of all, smell is unlike anything that most people outside Japan enjoy putting in their mouths. Some non-fans say it smells like dirty socks, but you’d have to wear your socks for far longer than just one day for their stank to match the intensity of natto’s intimidating bouquet.

However, natto is also said to be incredibly healthy, so there’s a definite upside to overcoming the issues mentioned above, and one bold American thinks he’s found a way.

Professional translator Dan Kanemitsu (@dankanemitsu on Twitter, who some of you may know of through his work as the translator for the Netflix streaming version of anime Neon Genesis Evangelion), was recently reading customer reviews for natto on Amazon’s U.S. site, where he came upon one that said:

“This is the ultimate nutritious food, but the flavor is the worst, so I always put it in the blender with some orange juice and turn it into a drink.”

It’s definitely a bold, outside-the-box idea. In Japan, natto is most often eaten over white rice, but it’s also sometimes mixed with eggs or rolled into sushi. It’ even sometimes added to miso soup. Mixing it into a cold beverage, though, and a citrusy one at that, is something no Japanese person would ever do.

For his part, Kanemitsu was shocked, and not at all tempted, by the idea. “No way I could ever do that,” he tweeted, and many Japanese Twitter reactions shared the sentiment:

“That’s a culinary crime right there.”
“Nasty! I hope this doesn’t become a thing overseas.”
“As soon as I imagine putting natto into orange juice, my brain goes ‘BLEGH.’”
“BLEGH” (extremely abbreviated version-full version has a lot more Es).
“I’m Japanese, but I would like to express my feelings with three English letters: OMG.”
“Is it supposed to be like an American version of a dark nabe hotpot?”

Then there was the Twitter user who responded with some projectile-puking ASCII art:

_| ̄|○、;’.・ bleeeegh

However, other commenters were sympathetic to the American natto buyer’s plight, and offered less startling, though often more time-intensive, ways you can make natto more palatable if you don’t care for it as-is.

“I’ve heard that up in Hokkaido they put sugar in natto.”
“I think the deliciousness of natto’s flavor has a peanut-like quality to it, so I’d recommend mixing it with butter or avocado, not orange or [citrus].”
“If you give the natto a quick rinse in water, then mix it in a bowl with a raw egg, soy sauce, salt, and pepper, the smell will weaken enough that it shouldn’t bother you very much anymore.”
“On TV I saw them mix it with water, flour, and cheese, then stir in salt and soy sauce, then sauté it in a frying pan with olive oil.”

Getting back to the idea of mixing natto and orange juice, there’s a chance it’s crazy enough to work. For all of its unappetizing aspects to non-fans, natto’s flavor itself is actually pretty mild. It’s possible that in going from plain natto to a natto OJ smoothie the beans’ texture would transition from sticky to liquidy, and the citrus element would mask, or at least lessen, the natto smell. There’d also be a definite confidence-boosting side effect, because if you just chugged a glass of natto-drink for breakfast, is there really much chance of the rest of your day throwing anything that seems all that difficult in comparison?

Of course, the danger is that if the combination doesn’t work for you, you run the risk of permanently ruining orange juice for your palate through traumatic flashbacks.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get back to sipping my jellyfish dessert drink.

Source: Twitter/@dankanemitsu via Hachima Kiko
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