Sunday, January 27, 2008

I FUGUed...And Survived

After many years of restless anticipation, last week I was finally able to sit down to a meal that could potentially kill me. That's right I ate raw (as in uncooked), possibly poisonous (as in it-kill-you-you-dead), blowfish (as in Hootie and the ___). Why, you ask, would I take my life into my hands for something so trivial as a meal of raw fish? Well I suppose the answer could be summed up by the ancient Japanese saying:
 Those who eat fugu soup are stupid.
But those who don't eat fugu soup are also stupid.

That was real deep, I know, but I swear to you I am not making that up...that's really their
traditional saying on this issue so I'm just gonna go with that. I mean let's face it a culture that's like over 1000 years old must know what their talking about, right...right?

Well according to Wikipedia, fugu contains lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin in the internal organs, especially the liver and ovaries, and also the skin. Therefore, only specially licensed chefs are allowed to prepare and sell fugu to the public, and the consumption of the liver and ovaries is forbidden. However, a number of people die every year from consuming improperly prepared fugu.

This tetrodotoxin stuff makes cyanide look like a Jolly Rancher since it's a whopping 1250 times more potent (more potent than cyanide not the Jolly Rancher...smartass), shoot, one website even claimed that simply touching the fish wrong could kill you. The poison, a sodium channel blocker, paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, first they experience a numbing of the lips and tongue, then a growing paralysis of the body, headaches, gastric pain, vomiting and convulsions. It's not all bad though, app arently you do get the consolation prize of a "light and floaty " feeling. Then boys and girls, after 4-6 fun filled hours of this, death occurs from asphyxiation.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that there's no known antidote? Hmm...had I known all this before partaking of this murderous meal I may have had some second thoughts. But since ignorance is bliss I happily dug in and ate my fill only to be slightly surprised at the taste...or lack thereof. I mean certainly a food with such an evil reputation would have an equally wicked flavor to go with it...right?

But alas, this was not to be, as the much hyped fugu, in this ignorant gaigin's (Japanese for "foreigner") mind tasted like a chewy piece of...something chewy. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad at all, in fact the sauce which we were dipping it in was great and I was beyond thrilled at finally having the opportunity to partake, but when taken on its own the mighty blowfish deflated on the taste buds.

So then why the attraction? I mean, who is the salesman behind a dining experience which is somewhat bland, expensive, (this stuff goes for $200 a plate in Japan) and potentially fatal? Whoever it is should be selling refrigerators to Eskimos instead of trying to titillate thrill seeking diners in the extreme sports of cuisine. Although, true connoisseurs would be mighty miffed at my take on it being slightly bland I just didn't see it.

Or maybe its something altogether different than the flavor that drives people, myself included, to the fugu's table, possibly the attraction lies in the allure of the poison itself. The possibility, be it ever so minute, that this could be my last meal. The idea of dancing with the devil by the pale moonlight, that sense of staring death dead in the eye...and chewing.

Or perhaps, to quote an ancient Japanese saying, we're all just stupid.

Hozumi and I about to engage in the Russian Roulette of dining.

Homer Simpson Quote of the Day:

(Homer looks over the menu.)
Homer: There’s got to be something I haven’t tried. Huh? Hey, hey, what’s this? Fugu!
Akira: (Gasps.) It is a blowfish, sir. But I should warn you that one—
Homer: Come on, pal. Fugu me!

(Homer, at the hospital after eating some poisoned blowfish.)

Homer: (Imitating Lisa) Try something new, Homer! What'll it hurt you, Homer? (Regular voice) I never heard of a poison pork chop!

OK OK...there's just wayy too many good quotes here...You just GOTTA watch this, at least the first 4 and a half minutes worth, they are truly hilarious, then it just gets kinda stupid...unless you like Todd Sweeney, whoever that is.


Lewie Tenorio said...

Always taking a risk, eating on the edge! So which restaurant serves this Fugu?
Personally, I rather drink my poison, so I'll just wait for Pufferfish "Pop" to hit the market.

Bryan said...

Unfortunately there is no restaurant on Saipan that serves fugu. You just gotta have the mad phat Japanese hookups that I gotz. Oh and that pufferfish pop article was great, thanks for sharing.

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