When sitting in the scientific laboratory the echoes of the sonar play out as we scan the terrain below us, and a fuzzy image appears on the flat screen revealing the mountainous features below us.
And they are mountains. Some of these features are as tall as Mount Everest and they form the most wonderful geological structures you can imagine. As the speckled image progresses, my imagination begins to wander. I imagine ski slopes along the flanks of the seamount, with bars, ice cream shops and restaurants open all hours.
My daydreams are interrupted as Alan walks into the laboratory with a look on his face that I have come accustomed too - I quickly realise its almost 11 and that lunchtime is approaching, a fact that instantly explains the subject matter of my dream. The signal that lunch is ready plays over the tannoy and we boldly step forward.
I wonder what it will be? This moment would, ordinarily, bring excitement, but Japanese cuisine isn't for everybody all the time, especially when feeling delicate at sea. I am getting a past master at sucking up noodles and manipulating my food with chop sticks.
Getting things to my mouth is no longer the main problem. It's the taste sensation that ensues that makes meal times interesting, the unfamiliarity of the meals means that we don't always know what we are eating. In our ignorance, we refer to things by colour and shape and add the details to our mental library of taste experiences, although this isn't always a reliable strategy.
Alan and I adopt the same approach. We scan each others facial expressions in the same way as professional poker players look at other players for the slightest indication that all is not well.
It's a cat and mouse game against the clock, too quick and you may commit to something you would rather not consume, too slow and you risk offending the chef who has worked diligently all morning. One of us has to break first, it's a complex and strategic game. We are hungry.
Posted on 16 March 2009
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