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Wheat Grass: Disappointed Again
Peter Tatara - August 8, 2007

I have a hobby (my girlfriend calls it a death wish) where I perpetually shove ever more bizarre things into my mouth. Don't get too excited as I'm not talking about razor blades or broken light bulbs. No, everything I eat is intended to be eaten, but it is still something that generally freaks out a large portion of the United States.

All this began after reading Chef Anthony Bourdain's description of natto, a Japanese dish of rancid, mucilaginous, fermented soy beans. Bourdain, a man with a stomach not afraid of the exotic, didn't have exactly kind words for this food with the consistency of snot. As such, I had to have it. But living in Upstate New York at the time, finding natto wasn't an easy task, and months would pass -- my expectations of natto's nauseating texture and appearance growing more and more with every passing day -- between the time I first heard about the snotty soy beans and when I eventually found them at an Asian grocery store several towns away.

When I finally sat before a bowl of natto, I must say, I was disappointed. I didn't throw up. I didn't chuck the stuff away. Far from it, I thought -- next to what I had imagined -- natto was tame. Today, whenever going out for Japanese, I request fermented soybeans and eagerly gobble them up. They're supposedly packed with nutrients and absolutely freak my girlfriend out.

But still wanting an absolutely gross out food experience, I now push myself toward delicacies that are considered weird, bizarre, and odd -- in the hopes that one day I'll come up against something that terrifies me to the bone.

Most recently, I downed shots of wheat grass with my girlfriend. We ventured into a juice bar serving up close to 100 different botanical concoctions, with wheat grass printed in tiny letters at the end of the list. The staff made some faces as I ordered several shots and served up the drinks with complimentary bottles of water. Promising. My girlfriend and I both sniffed the stuff. Then, together, we lifted our cups. My girlfriend was gasping for breath and downing her water after a single sip, but one, two, and three shots did nothing to me.

What the hell, wheat grass? You're supposed to be undigestible, but you only came off akin to a glass of peapods and lawn shavings. Is that supposed to scare me?

I've got two foods next up on my hit list: Durian and Moxie. Moxie is an ancient soda pop with the taste and feel of motor oil and is still supposedly bottled someplace in Maine; however, any and every attempt to procure a bottle -- even in NYC -- has been met with failure. Durian is an Asian fruit illegal in several countries that looks like a spiky coconut, and when you crack one open, inside is a mushy soup that smells not unlike garbage and shit. Of course, I must have both.

Durian is readily available in Chinatown, and it's just a matter of convincing my girlfriend that I'm allowed to break one apart in the apartment, but Moxie, as I've said, is a phantasm. If you know of any backwards, behind-the-times retailers selling Moxie anyplace even remotely near New York City, please let me know. I've even set up a special e-mail address where you can send me tips --

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