My hovercraft is full of eels


by Simon Harris

Whenever I hear the expression “if X isn’t working for you, you’re not doing it right,” I always think of Nattō (なっとう)—a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.

Nattō is roughly the Japanese equivalent of Vegemite. That is, if you grew up eating it you think it’s God’s culinary gift to humankind. Otherwise, it’s possibly the most disgusting thing you’ve ever had the misfortune to try. There really is no in between.

Being non-Japanese, it’s fairly common for Japanese people to ask me if I like Nattō. Whenever I tell someone that I’m well and truly in the does-not-like camp, I am inevitably told with absolute certainty that the only possible explanation for me not liking it is because I’m “eating it wrong.” “Do you eat it with wasabi? No? Well then that’s your problem.” “What? You don’t top it with mayonaise and some soy sauce?” “The secret to eating Nattō is spring onion!” The list of variations is seemingly endless.

I often see similar behaviour around software development tools and process. Only in these cases it’s much more like this magnificent piece by Jim Carrey: