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Wasabi Miscommunication

I like horseradish sauce and I like hot mustard, so it only makes sense that I would enjoy wasabi, the Asian blending of both; however, given it’s nature, it is best to enjoy wasabi in minuscule amounts. Last night while I was eating sushi with wasabi for dinner, I was reminded of a communication meltdown between a lovely church lady and a poor street woman.

Pastor liked to bring unusual foods to the Wednesday night Bible Study and entice people to try something new. One night he brought a very large deli platter of assorted sushi. The platter included a bed of shredded ginger with a scoop of wasabi nestled on it.

When every one finished eating, the table was still laden with food. Only four people, including the Pastor and I, had eaten any of the sushi and wasabi, so most of it remained.

Shortly after we finished eating, yet before we started Bible Study, a homeless woman entered the church and asked if we had something she could eat. We gave her a plate and pointed her toward the table. Pastor told her to help herself to anything she wanted.

The woman went to the table and piled her plate high with fried chicken, potato salad and other tasties. As she came to the end of the line, she had no interest in the sushi, but then she saw the wasabi. “Guacamole!” She exclaimed. Grabbing a serving spoon, she scooped it all up. One of the good church ladies, anticipating disaster, shouted, “Don’t take all of that!” She rushed toward the homeless woman.

The homeless woman shouted back, “Pastor said I could have it!” And she shoveled the entire spoonful into her mouth. Wasabi fumes alone can put a hitch in one’s lungs, a mouthful of the stuff can freeze them altogether. The homeless woman’s eyes filled with tears. She gasped for breath and clutched at her chest.

Someone pressed a glass of water into her hand. She gulped it down. And another. Finally her tears slowed. Her face regained it’s normal color. The good church lady who precipitated the disaster said, “Are you alright?” The homeless woman screeched, “You tried to kill me!” And then she refused to eat anything at all. “You people are crazy!” She shouted as she ran from the church.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Funny tale, Quilly. If you gathered up all the uneaten wasabi from every sushi meal since the beginning of time, how large a pile of the green stuff do you suppose you’d have?

  2. Al — the quizzes are for your blog. Here we just act silly. (I’m a teacher. I can’t believe I said that.)

    Silver — sushi isn’t sushi without wasabi.

  3. Jill — jalapeno isn’t high on my list either. I like flavor, not necessarily heat.

    Kat — yes, it was a hard scene to watch and I relived it writing the story.

  4. Ha! Tom tried to “kill” bonnie baby last night too..handed her a handful of wasabi peas, thinking she might toss one at a time into her mouth…it was a horrible sight…her teary eyes and his guilt ridden expression…

  5. I feel sorry for the street person. Her life was rough enough. I hope somebody went after her and made sure she got to eat. The story reminded me of a person poassing through Crystal Falls. He stopped at the parsonage around lunch time on Sunday. He said he hadn’t had a thing to eat in three days. I told him he was inluck because we were just sitting down and we had plenty of hamburgers and homemade french fries. ” hamburger” ,h shouted. ” I don’t want no bloody hamburger” and he turned around and left.

  6. For a second I thought wasabi was a word you made up and I was imagining what it could stand for. I am very silly.
    I also never had any…but I share your love for horse-raddish and mustard….When I get ove rthere, I´ll invite you out to lunch!

  7. Hey Girl! I need you to email me . . . I received something in the mail from Dr. John that I believe is suppose to be yours! 🙂


  8. Minka — we’ll make it sushi. Bring Ferdinand.

    Lori — yeah, it was hard to watch.

    Cindy –okay, but why didn’t you click my email link in my profile?

  9. I feel sorry for the poor lady, but I doubt I would’ve been able to avoid a good chuckle.

    It’s funny, my mom just had a similar experience with wasabi peas. She says she learned her lesson!

  10. Funny story Quilly and when you said Church Lady I had visions of Dana Carvey’s Saturday Night Live “Church Lady” in my head as I read the story.

    Thanks for the chuckle I had a class of Coke and had to put it down.

    Oh, I have the movie review for “Random Harvest” on my blog. You can now decide if you want to watch it.


  11. Rob, it was so painful to watch, you wouldn’t have laughed.

    Bill — I wondered if anybody would catch that. This particular lady fit the stereotype.

  12. Quilly, your story reminds me of some of the street people in Berkeley. There are people who do have to be protected from themselves. But they’re on the street because it’s better for them to be mainstreamed (translation: proper care is more expense than We the Well Off choose to bear).

    A little bit of wasabi in the soy sauce is very good indeed. A very little bit …

  13. OC — those are the folks I used to feed in the alley behind the church. Very few drunks ever made their way to my soup line, and those that did were seldom repeat customers.

    As to the wasabi — here, let me spread that on your sushi for you …

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