I like Japanese food and am proud to say that I can eat almost anything that is served to me. (Now Japanese friends, don't take that as a challenge to see what is the grossest thing we can get Tanya to eat!) I consider it a feather in my cap that I can even eat (and enjoy!) Shimotsukare which is a specialty of Tochigi prefecture where I live.
Let me tell you! There are not too many people outside of Tochigi that will eat this (Tetsu absolutely shudders at the thought!) and I don't think there are all that many Tochigi citizens that think too highly of it either! I was listening to a radio program that was interviewing Tochigi citizens to see what they thought of Shimotsukare and most of the people said they wouldn't touch the stuff with a ten foot pole!
So what is Shimotsukare? It is a winter dish made only in Tochigi out of grated Japanese radish, grated carrots, smashed soybeans, minced deep fried tofu skins, left-over pulp from rice osake and a very large salmon head. Bones, brains, eyes and all! All the ingredients are boiled down and smashed together so you don't really know that you are eating any of these odd things and it is served cold. Although not many people like it, everyone agrees that it is very healthy for you but who wants to be healthy when they are gagging? Another reason why people shy away from Shimotsukare is that it looks like, how shall I put this delicately, "spit-up". One look and more gag.
I really do like Shimotsukare and when my friend Mrs. Yano brought over a huge tupperware, I accepted just half since I knew Tetsu wouldn't even want it in the refridgerator. I ate it all before he came home that night. BUT, I don't like it enough to want to learn how to make Shimotsukare. I think watching a fish head disintegrate into it might make me side with the anti-Shimotsukare people. My policy is "eat and enjoy and don't think about it."