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The Natto Project? No Thanks!

Ever had natto? The Japanese foodstuff is made of fermented soybeans that have a type of bacteria called bacillus subtilus added. The bacteria lends the beans a super-strong smell and also develops a stringy, sticky filament around them called neba. This combination of texture and smell is somewhat acquired, to say the least.

I've never managed to develop a taste for natto, as it were. I've tried it with spicy beef yukke; with tuna, rice, and scallion; and all by itself. I want to appreciate it, I do. But no matter the preparation, I just can't get past the smell. To call it "rotten" would be kind.

I was researching natto for my story on Nu-Sushi (which employs it in a number of dishes) when I found this site: The Natto Project.

It's the blog of a couple living in New York who felt sort of like I do

about natto. Instead of just giving up, however, they decided to start

an experiment. They would force themselves to eat natto every day for a

year and document the results. They wanted to see just how long it

would take to acquire a taste for the stuff.

Reading their posts over the course of the experiment is interesting

stuff -- it's neat to see how their disgust slowly turns into

acceptance and finally to enjoyment. In the end, they learn to

appreciate the funky bean and its stringy goo. I think that says

something profound about our tastes in general. I may never be able to

love natto, but someday, I might be able to enjoy it too.

Natto looks sort of gross, so I've avoided posting it above the cut.

But if you click further into the post, you'll find some natto pictures

to enjoy.

The foamy neba that forms around natto is actually highly sought after, and quality product is judged on how much is present.
The foamy neba that forms around natto is actually highly sought after, and quality product is judged on how much is present.



Natto's aroma is quite powerful. It's a little yeasty but more than anything smells aged. Some people equate it to the smell of strong cheese.
Natto's aroma is quite powerful. It's a little yeasty but more than anything smells aged. Some people equate it to the smell of strong cheese.



Individual packages of natto come with soy sauce and spicy mustard to add. Natto is rarely eaten plain.
Individual packages of natto come with soy sauce and spicy mustard to add. Natto is rarely eaten plain.




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