The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Well, I'm Still Alive...

Last night, I went out for dinner with my friend Karen (one of the other English teachers here) and some of her Japanese friends. They are middle-aged people with an interest in English, so we spent the evening chatting in English and Japanese. This sort of thing is not entirely uncommon; foreigners often get invited out to dinner for an informal "English lesson". Some people don't like it because they feel it's exploitation, but I don't really mind it; after all, it's not like I can't use some more friends, right?

Anyway, it turns out that they had invited us to a very high-end Fugu restaurant. Fugu is the notorious puffer fish, and Oita prefecture is the best place to eat Fugu in Japan (according to most people in Oita, anyway).

Kind of cute, isn't it? Well, here's what Wikipedia says about the fugu (in part):

The fish is highly toxic, but despite this — or perhaps because of it — it is
considered a delicacy in Japan. The fish contains lethal
amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin in the
internal organs, especially the liver and the ovaries, but also in the skin and
the testicles. Therefore, only specially licensed chefs can prepare and sell
fugu to the public, and the consumption of the liver and ovaries is forbidden.
But because small amounts of the poison give a special desired sensation on
the tongue, these parts are considered the most delicious by some gourmets.
Every year a number of people die because they underestimate the amount of
poison in the consumed fish parts.
The poison paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays
fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. There is
currently no antidote, and the standard
medical approach is to try to support the respiratory and circulatory system
until the effect of the poison wears off. The fish is also featured prominently
in Japanese art and culture.

Fugu is also horrendously expensive. I'm guessing the meal cost about $100 per person. It was special Fugu cuisine, so every dish featured Fugu somehow. (I really like saying "Fugu".) There was raw Fugu in Fugu liver sauce, with a side-dish of Fugu skin salad. This was followed by deep-fried Fugu and Fugu saute, with some boiled Fugu meatballs. Then, we had a type of sake with a Fugu fin floating in it, and then a Fugu soup. It was all delicious, but I kept a close eye on my dinner companions for signs of paralysis.

Anyway, it seems that I lived through it. As I said it was pretty good, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it, especially at that price. If I'm going to kill myself by eating something, it will be a bacon double cheeseburger, and I'll die the old-fashioned way: of blocked arteries, thank you very much.


At 7:10 AM, Blogger BeatDogg said...

Dude, multi-million dollar idea: you know how the Japanese are obsessed with North American trends? How about a knock-off of the FUBU clothing label called FUGU? And FUGU could stand for "For Us Geisha Users" or something. Genius, I tells ya, pure genius!


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