The abalone was trying to escape. And, for the last few minutes, I had been formulating a plan to assist it. I lifted the ceramic lid again. The mollusc was still firmly attached but its strong muscular foot was slowly curling toward the rim. Anthropomorphizing is a tricky business, so I hesitate to say it knew it was in mortal peril. Still, it was clear that it did not want to be in that dish and, by extension, part of my meal. That made two of us. I looked around the room at my companions. All were engrossed in the contents of their own platters, eliciting the kind of focus required for a dining experience that had thus far been a bucket list of foreign tastes: shark heart carpaccio, sea urchin roe, greenling sashimi, a gelatinous cube of anglerfish, and a heaping portion of raw cod testes. Would they notice if I slipped the abalone into the folds of my yukata robe? Would they care? A Japanese woman in a floral kimono re-entered the room. Our server. She crouched near my platter with a smile and lit the fuel canister under the dish containing the abalone. If we were going to make a break for it, it was now or never.