We need a better word for slime

August 24, 2010

Why are Americans so repelled by the texture of slime? Could it be because the word itself is so awful? What if we called it bounce instead? Would we like it better?

Years ago, in Japan, I learned to love the clean taste and mysterious texture of grated yama imo – surely one of nature’s slimiest creations. When you slice this mountain potato it has the texture of jicama, but when you bite in it begins to dissolve in a wonderful fashion, slowly disintegrating beneath your teeth. Grated, it turns into something more resembling melted mozzarella than any vegetable I can think of, a kind of fresh-tasting porridge that separates into long rubbery white strings when you attempt to pick it up.

In Japan slime is much prized; if grated yama imo is good, grated yama imo with a raw quail’s egg is even better. But last night at SushiZen I had a veritable slime fest: muzuku, the beautiful feathery seaweed from Okinawa that goes shivering from your chopsticks when you try to pick it up. I love its fresh, citric flavor and buoyant texture. Last night it shimmered up at us from etched glass bowls, topped with a pure white squiggle of yama imo, a single raw quail egg and a bright green dab of grated okra.

It was lovely, and I knew I should take a picture of it. But I was so happy when it arrived that I just dived in.

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