My parents — b.k.a. Jan and Lew — are not the most adventurous eaters. It’s not that their palates aren’t sophisticated. Jan is an excellent, flavorful chef and inspired my own love of cooking. They enjoy fine dining, would never be caught dead at some of the trailer trash venues I love, and in fact eat many items that I personally can’t tolerate. It’s just that they do have a culinary comfort zone, occupied largely by Italian food. 

So I was surprised last Friday when I made plans to partake of the evening meal with them and Jan suggested we patronize Totoya, the sushi restaurant up the block from their abode. I couldn’t imagine what Jan would eat at such an establishment, since I’m well aware of her strict policy against the ingestion of raw fish, but she assured me that Totoya’s chicken teriyaki and assorted dumplings were quite tasty. Lew, I am proud to report, has recently developed an appreciation for things like toro and yellowtail thanks to a sushi-eating colleague.

Fabulous! I really wasn’t in the mood for chicken piccata or garlic breath that lasted three days.

After a solid 10 minutes of debate about how many appetizers to order, a decision was reached. Jan and Lew selected some shumai and gyoza, and I requested edamame (pictured above). Seeing as how they were being so generous with their dumplings, I offered them some of my delicious green soybeans.

Jan brutally rejected me. Lew said that he didn’t really like edamame, citing its chewy texture and lack of taste, but that he might try some anyway.

That’s odd, I thought. I like edamame because it’s NOT chewy. Oh well. I guess one man’s chewy is another man’s … not chewy.

A few minutes went by. I was pleased to see Jan enjoying her shrimp shumai and Lew reaching for an edamame. How cute were they?!

A few more minutes went by and I noticed that Lew was still chewing the original edamame.

Wait a minute. Why was it taking him so long to chew that edamame? Why wasn’t he spitting out the shell? Where’s the pod? SHOW ME THE POD!

It dawned on me that whomever tutored Lew about sushi had failed to teach him an important lesson.  

Lew! Oh no! Lew! You know you have to spit the shell out, right?”

In a nanosecond, and a most sit-com like manner, Lew reached for a napkin. I surmised from this gesture that he had not, in fact, known.

“What happens if you eat the shell?” asked Lew in a mildly concerned tone.

At last, I could return the favor for the man who spends 65 percent of his day reassuring me that I won’t barf and telling me that I probably don’t have a 24-hour case of typhoid.

“Nothing happens Lew! Don’t worry! It just doesn’t taste good.”

I also felt it was important to note that perhaps he would actually like edamame if he’d eaten it properly. Edamame in the shell = chewy and tasteless. Edamame outside of the shell = dee-LICIOUS!