Or, How Nathan Won, Again
I'm backlogged in terms of things that I'd like to post about, but I might as well start with a recounting of the Sixth Sushi-Eating Contest between Nathan and myself.*
The wait for a table wasn't long (Yay for Fuji's on a Tuesday!), so within about fifteen minutes of arrival, we got down to business. A typical round of sushi-eating involves three plates, which is about the most you can carry from the little boats at one time. Three plates sounds like a lot, but a picture will put it into context: one plate holds about two rolls.
The first round went without incident, and we both felt fine. I asked one of the sushi chefs for a special order of smoked salmon (yum!) for the second round. Usually, they just give you a normal plate with two rolls on it, but for some reason the gentleman gave me a plate double the normal size with four rolls. I asked Nathan if it could count as two plates, and after some deliberation, he accepted. Waiting for the special order cost me, though: Nathan had already started round three while I was working through the end of round two.
Seeing that I was lagging, I opted to find a way to catch up. Going back to the sushi boats, I looked for something that looked light and would go down quickly to help me catch up. A plate of ikura looked innocent enough, so I grabbed it.
Ikura, it turns out, is salmon roe, something I've never tried before. Nathan eyed it suspiciously when I brought it back with me. I'm not averse to eating odd-looking food, but I nonetheless felt queasy looking at these translucent orange blobs. Putting those feelings aside, I grabbed my chopsticks, raised one roll to my mouth, and took a tentative bite.
The taste of fish and salt immediately triggered a retching reaction in my throat, and my eyes bulged out. Nathan, who was watching with a bemused smile, burst out laughing. It wasn't so much that it tasted bad—it was just way too salty. I knew immediately that I had made a grave strategic error. Nathan noted that I didn't need to finish the plate…but I knew that if I went back for another plate, I would fall even further behind him. So I opted to eat the whole plate, taking bites between gulps of water and nibbling at other items I'd brought back with me.
That would be big mistake number two.
From there, it was a downhill battle, as Nathan and I went on, round after round. We stubbornly downed plate after plate, gave each other a challenging look, and then stumbled back for more. We started to spend more time at the boats, carefully picking whichever dish would go down quickly. The ikura had taken its toll, and I knew it, but I hoped to simply outlast Nathan.
Nathan, however, is a man of exceptional gastrointestinal stamina, a true pillar of abdominal prowess.
I was working on plate seventeen—a nice pair of tuna rolls—when I experienced another involuntary retching reaction. At this point, it was clear that my body was saying "You're bonkers, Aliotsy!", so I called it quits, and ate a plate of orange slices to stop at eighteen plates. Nathan, who was working on plate nineteen, finished two more to win the tournament at twenty-one plates. I haven't seen anyone finish over twenty plates since I had sushi with my friend Ian, the 220-pound collegiate rugby player.
So Nathan holds the series lead, 5-0-1. I, on the other hand, have had enough sushi for at least two months.
*That would be Nathan's count, not mine. In fact, I don't even recall eating sushi with Nathan that many times, and of the times we've eaten sushi, I only considered two of them contests. But I digress.