Sometimes, my lifelong quest to seek out the abnormal comes back to bite me in the ass. While some of the unique Nagoya cuisine I've sampled has been great, like an eel rice bowl covered in tea and a pork cutlet slathered in miso, I was completely unprepared for what awaited me at the infamous cafe Mountain.
I first found out about Mountain through Asmodeus, which really should have been my first clue that it was a bad idea. According to him, the place is famous for its giant portions (mountains, if you will) of shaved ice and pasta. It's also famous for its strange menu, including such highlights as cactus pilaf and an extensive collection of sweet pastas. Asmodeus presented it to me as a challenge: he had eaten a plate of green tea pasta with red bean paste there, so I had to match him in order to keep up. My weapon of choice was melon pasta, which I soon learned was a terrible, terrible mistake.
The plate that came out was bright green, with an oily sheen of way too much melon glaze and a grid of whipped cream that was quickly melting and joining the excess oil and sugar in a pool at the bottom of the plate. There were chunks of cooked honeydew hidden just under the top layer of pasta like squishy, juicy land mines. and just in case there wasn't enough melon glaze used in the dish, there were clumps and clusters of green sugar clinging stubbornly to the pasta strands. All in all, it looked like some kind of play-doh nightmare.
I ate it anyway. Seiya tried some, and immediately started laughing at the sheer silliness of the flavor, which was exactly what you'd expect pasta glazed with melon and cooked with melon to taste like. He assisted me occasionally, but more often, he taunted me with such "encouragement" as "What, you're going to stop now? Asmodeus finished his..." So I kept eating.
About halfway through the plate, I started feeling a little ill - the glaze had started sticking to the inside of my mouth, and every bite of the spaghetti and meatball plate I'd ordered as a safety valve tasted strongly of honeydew. I kept soldiering on, goaded by the thought of losing to Asmodeus and having to put up with his teasing for the rest of my stay in Asia. Chewing became an afterthought, because that just kept adding more layers of green disgustingness to the inside of my mouth. Drinking water didn't help, it just spread the glaze around and made me feel like I was drinking through a confectioner's icing dispenser. I also realized that my lactose intolerance was worse than I thought, because the amount of whipped cream on the plate was playing havoc with my innards, but my inability to admit defeat kept me in the game.
As the last neon green strand of pasta made it into my mouth, I mustered up a bit of pride at my achievement, but that was quickly replaced by eater's remorse. So, after taking a quick picture to memorialize my accomplishment/folly, I rushed home to brush my teeth and forget that I'd just stuffed a heaping plate of neon green crap down my gullet. Afterward, I was told that melon pasta is perhaps the worst food available at Mountain, and that the banana pasta or the seasonal strawberry pasta was a much better choice (something I can easily believe). It wasn't much consolation, but I got a grudging amount of respect from my fellow Mountaineers after they were done mocking my pain.
The lesson I'm taking out of this is that when expanding my culinary horizons, I should at least keep some standards. There are some things that really are best left to pictures on wikipedia, and I'm adding melon pasta to that list along with scrapple, the Luther Burger, and "live" octopus.
Next up: trivia addiction