The tale of the wassabi bet.
 


     7 or 8 of us go out for a semi-regular Sushi dinner at a local restaurant and in our normal fashion, way to much sushi was ordered. For all of the probably 30 pieces of sushimi and rolls was one big lump of wassabi. Now, this was no small amount of wassabi. Frank Hong began to comment on the sheer size of the Wassabi. There were comments on whether or not everyone at the table would be able to finish it at all. For reference, it was about the size of a raquetball. (I've heard bigger estimates, but I'm pretty sure that was for the sake of the telling and retelling of the story.)

    Challenges to eat it began to fly. Numerous amounts and propositions were made. There were bets that were quickly dissolved; too much wassabi, not enough time to eat it, etc. It wasn't till Greg offered me (Bill) $500.00 that the bet had a taker.

   I'm no slouch when it comes to wassabi. My dish of wassabi and soy when eating sushi is closer to green mud than brown soup. But this was different. This was one big solid mass. Even if it wasn't wassabi....maybe cookie dough, (which is a pretty accurate description of raw wassabi) it still would have been difficult just to get it down because it was big enough to not only fill the mouth
but the cheeks as well.

   The process for accepting the bet was interesting. I knew that it was a mind over matter thing. (Remember this, it's an important thought for later.) Mind over matter could triumph.
Everyone was getting ready to go, and I think alot of people didn't believe that I, or maybe anyone, would do it. I was getting alot of pressure to make up my mind. I cut the ball in half, grabbed both pieces, and shoved it in my mouth.

   Just as I shoved the 2 pieces in my mouth and feel the full burning, Greg says, "Hey, that was 2 pieces, the bet was for one big piece!" I gave him the best dismayed and angry look I could give him considering I was dealing with hellfire in my mouth. He's lucky he was kidding. This is funny now; not funny with a raquetball of wassabi in your mouth.

   I bet your thinking that the initial heat must have been intense. Well, it oddly wasn't the first thing on my mind. I was just suprised at just how much was there, and began trying to figure out how I could possibly begin to get it down my throat. I decided to squish the wassabi into my cheeks to make enough room for my tounge to begin working at breaking up the huge mass and get it down. That worked, but the curious thing about wassabi is that its much hotter in a liquid form. This was a double edged blade. It was good, because the wassabi in my cheeks wasn't exactly hitting directly on my taste buds, so it wasn't as hot as you'd expect. The bad side of that was that every bit of my saliva, unable to go anywhere else in my mouth, was right there with my tounge to dissolve the wassabi and scorch my tounge.

    I began to get it down. I had 2 minutes, so I figured that I should do some type of pacing. I had to pause every once in a while. I'm not sure why. I guess I just didn't want to have that burning wassabi on my tounge for to long at all, not that pausing afforded any sort of real relief. Perhaps the gagging was causing the pause. OK, it was. Definitely.

   I approached the 2 minute mark to the point where I was getting ten second reports; 1 minute, 30 seconds, 1 minute 40 seconds...

    I had a good deal of it down, but knew that I'd have to pick up the pace. It really is an interesting battle when your telling your body to accept something when it's doing all it can to signal the brain, "hey, maybe this isn't such a good idea". now it was getting bad...real bad.

   I had a few close heaves, baby heaves if you will, and I knew that if I chucked it without getting it down all was for naught. That wasn't going to happen. I still had about 30 seconds of wassabi in my mouth when I heard the 10 second countdown. Oh god. I shoved the rest down, having no idea how my body was continuing to accept this nastiness.

   "Time!" I opened up my mouth. I'm sure there was paste remnants in my mouth, but for all intents and purposes...I did it. And if someone challenged it...well, I think I'd kill them.

   It wasn't over. Everyone was pretty suprised that I had pulled it off. But something was brewing down below. I didn't feel it, I just knew it. I've had to many med classes to think that my body was going to be cool with the nuclear paste coating my stomach like some malignant pepto.

   So, the bet for this was $500 if I could swallow it all...but only $250 if I couldn't hold it down. I had argued that my body wasn't going to let me, and that it could be simply physically impossible to do it no matter what. But, Greg argues that was his terms and I accepted them. Because I didn't want to ruin any tableclothes should Mr. Stomach disagree with his new friend Mr. Inferno ball, I grabbed a glass of water and headed for the door.

   I took a seat by the window, and well, how do I describe what happened then? Hmmm...so, $250 is alot of money. And I was happy to have it.

   I didn't eat sushi for a month after that. It just didn't seem all that enticing. I'm back to my green mud wassabi ways now, and I'm not afraid of any amount of wassabi now. Oh yeah, I drank a bottle of Mylanta back at the office when we got back. Thank god.