- Food and Cooking
Fugu both Delicious and Deadly
If you tell some people that something is an aphrodisiac they are very likely to want to try it regardless of whether it passed through the digestive tract of an Elephant or a Civet Cat or consists of gound up Beetles. Probably the most famous, and expensive of all aphrodisiac foods is Fugu. Fugu is the prepared flesh taken from a number of different species of Blowfish. This includes Takifugu vermicularis amongst others. Fugu is not just a pricey and reputedly delicious dish it is also one of the riskiest. Here the you eat your meal hand in hand with the possibiliies of sudden death. Fugu, unless it is prepared properly will kill you. There is no known antidote for the tetrodotoxin which is a thousand times more poisonous than cyanide.
A numbness and tingling to the lips, cheeks, fingers, toes and naughty bits are often felt by Fugu eaters. Some say this is the poison at work but a similar but not as thorough experience can be had from eating Skate which is sometimes known as "tickle fish" in parts of the UK for this very reason. An ill prepared Fugu means the diner will experience paralysis and being totally unable to move will not be able to breathe and so die of oxygen starvation.
The tetrodotoxin from Fugu was long believed to be unique till it was discovered thousands of miles away in the egg clusters of a species of Californian Newt. Now it is known in the Blue Ringed Octopus, and Xanthid crabs.
The Fugu goes under a variety of 'English' names such as Blow fish, Puffer fish, Globe Fish and Balloon Fish.
Fugu is not Kosher
People of the Book are given warning.
"These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you"
All Fugu are smooth and without scales
Fugu is essentially a part of Japanese and Korean cuisine and outlets which sell it have to be licensed. Fugu chefs serve an apprenticeship and pass exams before they become qualified. Around 200 people still die of Fugu poisoning every year though these tend to be those who prepare the fish incorrectly at home. There are some supermarkets today which offer prepared Fugu.
In restaurants a Fugu meal will cost in the region of $100-150.
The Fugu dish remains a popular one. Today there are Fugu fish farms which grow on and supply both restaurant and markets. Purists say that the farmed fish are not as risky as the real thing and believe that is essential that some poison remains in the fish to give the aphrodisiac effect. With prompt attention a victim of Fugu poisoning can be saved if someone does the breathing for them until the poison has metabolised. Only about 60% of victims die.
That Fugu are now farmed is something of a blessing because the dish is increasing in popularity. 1 ton of Fugu is sold in New York each year and Hong Kong is second only to Japan as a consumer. It is only a matter of time before it becomes popular in China.
Eating Poison Fish
Old Japanese Saying
Those who eat fugu soup are stupid.
But those who don't eat fugu soup are also stupid.
Fugu Four Ways
Haiku by Buson
I cannot see her tonight.
I have to give her up
So I will eat fugu.
On A Personal Note
Would I try Fugu? That would be a definite yes. Not especially for any supposed aphrodisiac effects, though those could be interesting, but because I like seafood and I like to try different foods. In fact I like to try to do something different every day. The taste of Fugu has been described as 'incomparable' and that's good enough for me.
As to the fish. The Puffer Fish and Porcupine Fish families are amongst my favourites to work with. They appear to have a much greater intelligence than other fish that I have dealt with. They do take an interest in what is going on around them both in the tank and outside. They recognise people and can become very affectionate. Strange to say that once they get to know you they like to be stroked, rather like a cat.
If it seems a bit odd to eat a creature I like I also like chickens, pigs, cows and more.