At last, it’s finally time to tell you about my dad and wasabi.
So. Let’s begin.
My dad likes: meat, potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, eggs (over medium) and bacon, brownies, General Tso’s chicken, Jamaican jerk chicken, anything on the grill, egg rolls, veal parmigiana, “rotisserary” chicken, asparagus, peaches, Brussels sprouts, pizza, hoagies, wings, and other basic stuff like that.
My dad hates: casseroles; grits, polenta or anything resembling “mush;” curry; Thai food; quiche; steak au poivre; pork chops; turkey with peppercorns (“you’re ruining it!”); tuna croquettes; creamed chipped beef; unusual sauces; and “any of that fancy s#!%”
Rather than risk getting something he hates, he’ll order the same thing over and over again every time we go out. He’s gotten more adventurous at times, but often regrets it (“Should’ve just gotten my veal parm!”).
But in the course of a million meals of General Tso’s, he discovered superhot mustard made with wasabi powder. And he loves it. Horseradish too.
As a teenager, this mortified me. Why, you may be wondering, why would a simple preference of wasabi embarrass even the most self-conscious teen girl? If you are indeed in ignorance, let me enlighten you at once.
The reason he likes it so much is that he loves the feeling of having your entire ENT system on fire from the extreme hotness of the wasabi. He would douse his egg rolls in tons of wasabi mustard (or his shrimp in horseradish), wait for it to kick in and… shout, “WHOOOOOOOO THAT’S HOT!!! WOO!!” and slap the table, hard.
In Chinese restaurants. Or wherever he happened to be.
At 15 or so I was always terrified of going to the Chinese buffet in town with my family. It was good, but what if someone I knew were there to see him have a wasabi meltdown?!?! It seemed so life-and-death at the time.
From there, he graduated on to wasabi peas and then actual wasabi paste. He even will now eat sushi. He doesn’t admit it’s just to get to the wasabi, but I have my suspicions.
My dad is a Harley-riding, heights-fearing, Jameson-shooting, rap-blasting, homemade-potato-gun-firing, Rottweiler-coddling, recliner-hogging, inappropriate-story-telling, Facebook- and History Channel-obsessed plumber who has looked – at different times in his life – like an altar boy, a Colombian mobster, AC Slater, Super Mario, and Billy Joel. The brownies he makes from the box are better than anyone else’s. He can build the best fire you’ve ever seen, he says glowing things about you but never to your face, he’s great with little kids, he’ll do anything for you, and he goes nuts over wasabi.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.