Adventures in Soy

What is Nigari?
Nigari is a liquid extract left over from the processing of tofu.
Nigari is rich in minerals and is claimed to be an excellent dietary supplement.
Supposedly, the high magnesium content of nigari works in the intestines to block the absorption of fat into the body.
Nigari is claimed to be especially effective when taken with foods rich in B vitamins such as pork or mushrooms.
Nigari is poured over food before it’s eaten; some people say it’s tasteless, and others claim it’s slightly bitter.
Nigari, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, is a huge health fad in Japan.
I also think nigari is a damn good way for tofu companies to make money on what was once probably considered a waste byproduct. Maybe the health claims aren’t so far off. Another byproduct of tofu manufacturing is okara, a substance very high in fiber and very good for you, which unfortunately smells and tastes like shit. An old friend of mine once told me that when she was a kid, a truck from a local tofu factory would come by her school every week to drop off free okara. The kids would all run away from it screaming because they hated eating it so much. But I digress. You are thinking, “what the fuck is J getting at?”, and “hurry up and tell us more exciting tales of tofu.” Okay, kids:
Today in the company cafeteria, I chose a seat near the windows, as always, so I could look at the birds in the trees and be extremely jealous of their carefree lifestyle, as always. I sit by myself because if its one thing I’ve learned over the years at a big Japanese company, it’s that talking about work shit over lunch break doesn’t feel like much of a break at all.
A group of guys from another section intruded on “my” table, and this ridiculously irritating hippie health-fad slave among them pulled out a bottle of nigari and started pouring copious amounts of it on each person’s food, squealing in an incredibly annoying tone of nag, “try this out, it’s NIGAAAARI it’s TAAAASTELESS it’s GOOOODFORYOU.” When he got to the person who had sat down next to me, he accidentally poured some in MY bowl of miso soup (which I had taken off the food tray earlier and placed on the table between myself and the guy next to me). I was thinking, “what the fuck!”, and probably went bug-eyed in disbelief, but didn’t say anything at first (that’s the old “fitting-in at overseas office” function kicking in). Actually, the whole table was kind of in disbelief that this dumbass had tainted my food. This is Asia; the unwritten rules are that you don’t fuck with:
A. Another man’s bowl of rice
– or –
B. Another man’s bowl of soup
*curiously enough, main dishes and side dishes are fair game if you ask first OR the other person doesn’t notice
So now we have a situation because homeboy has fucked with my bowl of hot fermented soybean goodness and is totally unapologetic. The fucker tells me, to the horror of his friends, its GOOOOD for you.
Ten years ago, this guy would have been eating teeth. Five years ago, he would have at least been wearing soup. Today, since I was in such a good mood, what with the birds in the trees and, admittedly, since I’m not nearly such an asshole anymore, I resisted the immediate urge to kill. Half of his friends were apologizing on his behalf while the other half told him to stop being such a dickhead, and I eventually agreed to let him buy me a new bowl of soup (his friends insisted on it). That was strangely embarassing, so when he went to buy it, I made a big show of licking my thumb and sticking it in his bowl of rice.
His friends went along with that just fine, and he never figured out why everyone kept giggling throughout the meal.
I suppose the moral of this story is, “You can take the man out of the asshole…”

4 thoughts on “Adventures in Soy

  1. So let me guess, you prefer natto? Bwahaha. It almost makes me yearn for the days of cafeteria spinach.
    And doesn’t too much magnesium slow bone formation?

  2. God, I have to look through all of these hippie super-soy publications whenever I research stuff for the newsletter that I write for (The Book of Tofu, The Book Of Miso, by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi; and of course, that hippie commune in Tennesee, The Farm & their cookbook)
    Hippie hand-lettering & all. I mean, the message is good, but looking through all of those awkward hand-drawn graphics and all of the schpiels about HOW GOOD IT IS FOR YOU when you know the stuff tastes like ass.
    Of course, a bag of nigari at the local health food co-op is around 9 bucks. Pretty expensive, eh?
    I am amazed that you possess enough self-control to not kick the dude’s ass! But the thumb-trick is a NICE touch,yo.

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