Lessons I Learned from Edamame Shells

In recent years I was introduced to Edamame, which are soy beans steamed and salted. They are delicious. Funny story. The first time I was eating them I was at a business event. I didn’t know what it was but everyone raved about it. So I popped one of the pods in my mouth and had to hold back my gag reflex. The guy sitting in front of my picked one up, pulled the seeds out using his teeth, then put the empty pod shell back on the plate. I was still struggling to figure out what to do with the whole thing in my mouth and quickly realized I was eating it totally wrong AND in front of a colleague. I very politely put my hand to my mouth and spit the saliva covered pod into my napkin. To cover my mistake I said, “Now I totally understand why you don’t eat the shell.” He laughed and we moved on.

Every time I order Edamame I think of that dinner and smile. I laugh at myself and how I learned to eat them correctly, and I think about the colleague who enjoyed my show. I learned to ask how to eat things, or watched other people do it first. I learned how to laugh at myself and make light of an uncomfortable situation. I learned that you have to get through the tough shell to get to the good stuff.

The whole thing reminds me of developing relationships. We all have built these outer shells or exteriors around ourselves, protecting us from the elements, other people, feeling foolish, and protecting us from ourselves. When in reality the best of us is behind that shell. If we never let it down, peel it away, or let people in we eventually end up alone or unknown to those in our lives. We have to let them know how to get into our shell, let them know what matters most, let them know that the best is never seen.

The Edamame colleague later told me that he did the exact same thing the first time he ate this dish. We both laughed and have had a special bond over eating food badly in public. I was glad we could bond over pea pods and eating them incorrectly.

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