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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 52: 15 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysI lunch with David Powers, a BBC radio man in Tokyo, at an automatic sushi bar. Thirty-seven varieties of sushi (raw fish with rice) move slowly round on a constantly replenished conveyor belt, in front of which the customer sits and takes off the saucer containing the sushi of his choice. The stack of saucers is checked at the end and your bill calculated. Tea and water are dispensed automatically. It's a triumph of what the Japanese are really good at - management, distribution, and control.

My stack of saucers mounts as squid, cod roe, conger eel, boiled octopus, pickled radish, raw prawns, cucumber and seaweed, chopped tuna and onion and crabsticks slip down. There is one particularly vile looking delicacy which keeps coming past which David tells me is salted squid innards and almost unpalatable to Europeans. Being a bit of an innards man this sounds like a challenge that cannot be avoided and I pop one in. Mauve in colour, slimy in texture it is, to say the least, bracing. Rather as industrial adhesive might be bracing. It will definitely join fox, dog and snake and cat soup as party conversation for many years to come.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 52
  • Date: 15 November
  • Country/sea: Japan
  • Place: Tokyo
  • Book page no: 177

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