The Future of Beef or 'Buddy Ever Eaten a Blowfish?'

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My
family and I stopped eating beef about three years ago. The writing
was on the wall: Eating beef would kill you. Of course we all know
that you can’t believe what the government tells you for a second.
So when the Japanese government said Japanese beef was okay, and
the US government followed suit a year or so later, you knew they
were lying. I mentioned to you before that Japan was well ahead
of the United States, well the proof’s in the pudding: Japan announced
that they found a BSE infected cow over a year and a half ago. The
US government admitted it just a few weeks ago.

American
beef producers are up “doo-doo” creek here in Japan. The two biggest
importers of US produced beef have announced that they have stopped
importing beef from America until the time they “deem it to be safe”
(Which means: Until they receive a big enough pay-off to look the
other way – until then, forget it.)

But
fear not! Japanese consumers are not about to stop eating beef!
They will continue to eat it as a delicacy. We have many delicacies
in Japan. And beef will soon become one of them!

New
Years in Japan: The ritual going to the temple; banging the gong.
I did that. I also grabbed one of those little pieces of paper that
will tell your fortune for the year. At last, this year will be
my luckiest year of my life… “Well it’s about time.” I think.
We burned some incense and prayed to what-ever-God it was we were
praying to.

After
the temple, my in-laws decide to “really go to town” by taking us
to the local “high fallutin’” delicacy restaurant in the entire
area: The local “blowfish” restaurant.

I’m
not really into eating things that are loaded with deadly neurotoxins.
Funny that. But my in-laws are insistent that we go to this restaurant.
“It’s the best.” They say.

Just
to bring you up to speed, “Fugu," Blowfish or Pufferfish is one
of the most poisonous things you could possibly lay on your palate.
The tetrodotoxin is said to be 160,000 times more potent than cocaine!
“What’s the down side of this argument?" You say? Well let
me introduce you to a very famous “Haiku” from Japan:

“Last night
he and I ate Fugu,
today
I carry his coffin.”

Japan
is very strict as far as granting licenses to people who wish to
prepare food. I have met people in America who went to Japan for
six months, returned to America and opened sushi restaurants right
away. There is no-way in the world that would ever be allowed in
this country. I think it requires at least five years working at
a sushi restaurant and a few more years working as an “intern” before
the Japanese government would ever allow you to have a license to
prepare sushi. And if you don’t have a license to prepare sushi
in Japan, you don’t prepare sushi in Japan. Period.

And
Blowfish is much more strict. Blowfish is only eaten by the wealthy
and the “connoisseurs." Average “Joe-Blow” (like you and me)
don’t eat blowfish unless it is a very special occasion… Like
New Years.

Blowfish
poison attacks the central nervous system and there is no antidote.
It is said to be 1000 times more powerful than the poison that the
Amazon Indians use on their arrows. Why do Japanese people eat this?
Why do people climb high mountains in the freezing cold? Good questions.

Another
famous “Haiku:”

“A man who
is his own sushi chef
has
a fool for a customer.”

People
who get Blowfish poisoning usually lose control of their fingers
and hands at first. That’s why if someone drops their chopsticks
at a Blowfish restaurant, the entire staff will freeze for that
split second as if someone dropped a pile of dishes at a Western
restaurant.

After
that, they lose control of all of their appendages. Their shoulders,
arms, and legs begin to have sharp, painful sensations. Their heart
and lungs cease to function. Soon they become a sloppy, disgusting,
mass of “Jello." After that there’s no hope for them. They’ll
slouch down in their chairs, drooling uncontrollably, and have to
be carried out to the dumpster like that days trash. It’s not a
pretty sight.

So
my mother and father in law insist on going to this Blowfish restaurant.
I recommend going back home, as there is a comedy re-run on TV,
a bag of potato chips, and a few cans of beer in the fridge at home.
But no! My wife tells me I am being overly paranoid.

She
tells me that the last time someone died from eating blowfish was
way back in last year! Yeah, I guess two guys decided that they’d
save money and prepare the blowfish at home. Well I’m sure they
had a great party…. Lots of laughs and drinks for all…. Sure,
they were laughing all the way to their funeral the next day.

Anyhow,
we walk into this Blowfish restaurant and it’s full of New Years
revelers! Can you believe it? These people are poisoning themselves
and laughing while doing it! My father-in-law orders some “poison
on a plate." I try to drink as much as possible, hoping the
alcohol might kill the poison (or kill me first thereby saving the
pain).

The
Blowfish comes out. I don’t wanna touch it. But, after all this
is New Years, and I’m with my in-laws. They give me that peer-pressure
stuff and force me to eat a bite…. I do…

One
bite. That’s it. No more.

I
bite it. It tastes like…. Well, I don’t know what it tastes like.
I wash it down. It’s gooey. Moments later I start to feel twitching
in my shoulders. I drop my chopsticks. I slump over. I'm drooling
and slurring my speech…. That always happens to me when I drink
too much.

I
drink some more. I feel pain. Pain everywhere. My legs, my arms,
my head…..

Later
on, back at home, I fall into my futon (bed) and pray that I’m not
gonna die that night.

My
father-in-law walks into the bedroom, points at me, and says to
my wife, “What’s wrong with him?” My wife, rolls her eyes and says,

“He
thinks he’s been poisoned by blowfish!”

“Oh,
really? comes the reply, “Tell him if he really wants to be poisoned,
we’ll go eat steak imported from America tomorrow night.”

Another
Haiku I just wrote:

"Steak
or Fugu?
connoisseurs
pick your poison."

January
6, 2004

Mike
(in Tokyo) Rogers [send
him mail
] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan
in 1984. He has worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality
in the mass media for nearly 30 years.

Mike
(in Tokyo) Rogers


        
        

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