Monday, 3 December 2007

Has wasabi lost its bite?

I was scoffing some sushi last week when I started to ponder the blob of green stuff in front of me. I love wasabi. When I get a blob of it at lunch, I finish most of it, and I'd knock the lot off if it wasn't for a dark, distant memory in the recesses of my mind regarding having my head blown off by wasabi.

The first time I tried it would have to be back in the late 1980's or early 1990's. I certainly know that I ate a lot of Japanese when in London in 1991 - it was much more popular there than it was in Perth at the time, and it was an expanding yet sophisticated cuisine. I remember having lunch quite often with a mate who was a fellow chilli afficionado, and we were both knocked over backwards by the wasabi on more than one occasion. It used to bring tears to my eyes and lots of snot to my nose.

Have my tastebuds turned to mush with old age, or have they been watering down the wasabi in the decade and a half since? Are we now eating wasabi-lite, and haven't noticed the heat slowly slipping away?

I tested this theory last week by simply eating a reasonable size blob of wasabi at lunch.

No effect.


If you tried doing that 15 years ago, it would be thought a mad act similar to snorting Tabasco sauce. Nowadays, you can spread it on bread and eat it like jam.

What is going on? Would someone please explain.

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