It's basically fermented (rotten) soybeans.
Well, you ought to be careful what you wish for as a few days back, Ben got me some and presented me it for breakfast, as apparently that is how it is meant to be eaten. I think this was just sadistic, but anyhow...
Natto in the bowl with the sachets of soy sauce and mustard you eat it with.
The first thing I noticed about it was the smell. It was pungent, but I couldn't quite place what it reminded me of. I stirred in the contents of the sachets and UGH UGH UGH
HOLY SHIT THE TEXTURE OF IT
NO NO NOOOOO
The picture does not fully illustrate the horror:
The beans were coated with a thin mucusy looking substance that stretched into strands when you lifted the fork... it was EXACTLY like someone had sneezed into a bowl of beans.
And then the smell hit me again. It was like particuluarly ripe socks. The sort that have been worn for a while and have to be softened up with a hammer to become wearable. The kind of socks you can imagine belonging to Lister from Red Dwarf or to my boyfriend if he has been cycling all day in hot weather.
I ate some anyhow. I drew back my lips from my teeth so the mucus would not trail on me, took a deep breath and ate a forkful. And...
... it tasted ok. Just non-specific savoury, not bad or offensive at all.
I ate a bit more, then gave up. It really didn't taste all that bad, but gusts of the vile stench kept getting me, and I had to admit defeat and put it in the bin.
And the next day I was washing up and noticed a foul, foul smell coming from the bin. Investigated, and found the source was the natto, which had ripened up considerably over the previous 24 hours and was now infecting the kitchen with it's reek.
This stuff is a health hazard and I cannot understand why it is sold as food.