UTSUNOMIYA, Japan, Dec 1998. I was on a project with Honda R&D at Utsunomiya, Japan.
And I’m vegetarian.
The next day, Yoshioka-san — our counterpart at Honda — took us to the canteen and introduced me to the chef. Knowing that “vegetarian” in Japan includes eating fish and birds, I took the chef aside.
“I’m vegetarian,” I emphasised.
“I don’t eat fish.”
“Ah, so. No fish.”
“I don’t eat chicken. No birds.”
“Ah, so. No chicken.”
Pause. He looked puzzled. Just to be sure, I added, “I’m vegetarian.”
He thought for a long while, and then said,
“So, you eat only plants?”
P.S. I was finally served rice with brocolli. I ate it with pepper.