I think there is a tipping point that gets an average person from being an enthusiastic diner to being a "foodie"
In my case it was discovering the Iron Chef about 6 years ago. Sure I cooked a lot, and went out to some nice restaurants, but somehow the Iron Chef which showed off luxury ingredients, various styles of cooking and the actual process intrigued me.
It also helped that the campy dubbed style and the flamboyant Chairman Kaga made this in to a Saturday night ritual for me. In fact I became so obsessed that when I went to Japan I went to 3 of their restaurants, Sakai, Kenichi and Ishinabe. (I've also been to American Iron Chef Bobby Flay's very impressive restaurant but my wife doesn't like me categorising this with the Japanese Iron Chef's)
In fact this little number still rates as one of my favourite dishes of all time, a pan fried piece of foie gras.
Why I bring this up is I recently came across a little piece of Iron Chef over here in liquid form. The third Japanese Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto's Black Soba Ale.
Morimoto was always a bit hard done by as the neo-japanese Iron Chef, he had big shoes to fill following on from Michiba and Nakamura. His creations were interesting, if not always on the money.
If there is a trick with Japanese food it is matching with drinks, wine is a big no go, reds are too overpowering and most whites too fruity. Neutral drinks like Sake and Beer are the best matches so with that in mind I felt it only appropriate that I match with some Sashimi and Sushi.
The beer matched very well, the sweet malt helped to offset the saltiness of the soy and oiliness of the fish despite it's darkness.
The beer was very enjoyable and definately makes me yearn for a return trip to Japan and for that matter to Morimoto's restaurant when I get to the USA next.