• 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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