Fresh Wasabi Versus The Weary Adverb

This is an ode to sim­pli­city — in part a trib­ute to fresh was­abi, and in part a war against the adverb. One is pure, intense and noth­ing but its own glor­i­ous self. The other is flouncy, florid and dilutes everything it attaches itself to. The adverbs I’ve got it in for go like this: I’m truly, hon­estly sorry — as opposed to dis­hon­estly sorry? I’m act­ively engaged in this task — how else could you be? I’m excep­tion­ally busy — busy is busy, after all and to add the adverb is to boast.

In the spirit of sim­pli­city, pur­ity and all-round reduct­ive delight­ful­ness, fresh was­abi is the culin­ary anti­thesis of adverbial. I’ve just been sent a gnarled, green root of fresh was­abi from The Was­abi Com­pany, grown, bizar­rely, in my favour­ite county of Dor­set. Its looks are against it — it resembles the index fin­ger of an aged warlock’s hand. But peel it and grate it, and it’s a revelation.

Com­mer­cial was­abi mixed up from powder, or the little khaki green blobs of was­abi that come with pre-packed sushi, usu­ally con­tain only 5 to 10% actual was­abi. The dif­fer­ence in fla­vour that comes from the fresh root is remark­able — like a full orches­tra play­ing Bach, com­pared to My Old Man’s a Dust­man per­formed on a kazoo. The taste of freshly grated was­abi plays all over the tongue and has a del­ic­ate per­fume to it, as well as all the usual nose-twanging, mouth-tingling, throat-sizzling effects that you would expect.

For the nerdy amongst us, there’s the added appeal of the little tools that are needed to turn Gandalf’s digits into pale green deli­cious­ness. There’s the grind­ing, the brush­ing, the heap­ing into chartreuse-coloured mounds on a plate. I can think of few other ingredi­ents that are so simply and per­fectly them­selves. It needs no glit­ter, no tin­sel, and cer­tainly no adverbs to be just itself. And at this time of year, when glit­ter and adverbs are slosh­ing around all over the place, that pur­ity is some­thing to celebrate.

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15 thoughts on “Fresh Wasabi Versus The Weary Adverb

  1. I needed this post today — it made me smile so much espe­cially the com­par­is­ons to ‘Gandalf’s digits’. You’ve made me eager to try fresh was­abi (slightly addicted to the stuff any­way). There is a pur­ity about it’s assault on the senses. Real­ise that I am guilty of adverb mis­use (strik­ing out the word extremely here!)

    • I am very happy to have made you smile, Sally. While writ­ing this post I real­ised how easy it is to strew ones writ­ing with adverbs. They can be use­ful but I’m guilty of over­us­ing them.

  2. LOL — for­give me father, for I have sinned… I love me an adverb! Although hon­estly is not usu­ally one I pick (does that say more about me than about the adverb?!). But yes, you are right, they are often super­flu­ous. My mother’s pet hate was hope­fully, as in “hope­fully we will go to the cinema tomor­row”. Really? You go in hope that the movie won’t suck?!

    As for fresh was­abi, I first had it at Nobu in Dubai — here is how I described it, thank­fully without flac­cid adverbs! “Proper fresh was­abi paste is a whole other beast – it is more like a small tor­nado erupt­ing on your tongue and then spiralling up through your pal­ate and brain, exit­ing through the top of your skull and leav­ing your entire head spark­ling from the inside.”

    • A great descrip­tion of fresh was­abi, Jeanne and your memory of cinema trips with your mother made me laugh. I remem­ber read­ing your post about Nobu — along with your vivid descrip­tions of what you ate. Fresh was­abi is easier to get than some of the aston­ish­ing things you were served, and I couldn’t agree more that it’s a revelation.

  3. Won­der­ful Charlie — I whole­heartedly agree as opposed to simply agree with Sally! Made me smile and put fresh was­abi on my Asia store list for sat­urday — per­fect to go with your graved lax which will grace my Christ­mas tabel as an appet­izer!
    Happy hol­i­days Dear and may we meet again in per­son in the upcom­ing new year.
    xox Karin

    • A heart-warming mes­sage to receive, Karin. I will think of you and your fam­ily on Christ­mas Day. And yes, do let’s meet up in 2013 x

  4. I’m now busy examin­ing my con­science to see if I too have sinned on the adverb front.. Like Jeanne, I remem­ber ‘hope­fully’ being a pet hate of sev­eral adults when I was a teen­ager, so when I use it now I still feel a blip of their disapproval!

    I’ve never come across fresh was­abi… still accli­mat­ising to the taste explo­sion of the diluted ver­sions I come across, so I’m not sure if I’m ready for the tor­nado exper­i­ence yet!

    • It’s not a tor­nado exactly, but rather an exquis­ite ver­sion of the ori­ginal fire — if you see what I mean!

  5. I think thanks to Jamie — I saw this come through on Twit­ter and wel­come the intro­duc­tion to another food writer/blog I am act­ively excep­tion­ally excited (sorry) to start read­ing as well as a pure ingredi­ent I look for­ward to try­ing. We do get so used to that green pro­cessed stuff that we for­get what we are meant to be eating.

    • Hi Beth Thanks very much — I’m so pleased that you’re look­ing for­ward to read­ing Eggs On The Roof. Some­thing else to thank Jamie for!

  6. For­get the was­abi, and even the words, for the moment. I MUST hear all about that tray with the three round indent­a­tions! I have an hered­it­ary addic­tion to china, glass­ware, flat­ware and all man­ner of kit­chen gadgetry.

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