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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)

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December 01, 2005
Have you ever had Fugu?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Good eats, Japan

Dear Mrs. Hapke offered thoughts on expanding at table yesterday and in the ensuing comments she asked me whether I had ever eaten fugu - the Takifugu pufferfish or blowfish - in Japanese: 鰒 - a sought after delicacy in Japan.


I told my affirmative story there - and I thought later that I might have had pictures. I found them - they were taken with my Japan cell phone so admittedly are not of very good quality, but they do offer proof of my assertions.

See, most Japanese people will say that they absolutley do not eat fugu liver because it is the organ in which most of the tetrodotoxin poison resides. But, in Oita, on Kyushu island, it is all part of the multi-course dinner...

I had what is probably a common western misperception that the skill of the licensed fugu sushi chef is that they know how to prepare the fish so that all of the poison is excised. While this is for the most part true - it is also the case - especially with the liver - that they know how to expertly prepare a precisely measured amount of the poison for their clients to ingest.


The most popular dish is sashimi - Fugu Tessa - and is served on elaborately designed plates like the above. It is sliced so thinly that the plate design is seen through the fish - and this 'see through' fact is all part of the Japanese aesthetic. The plate in the picture above is full of thinly sliced fugu sashimi.


There's the liver - the sauce has been mixed in but I hadn't yet stirred it into the sort of pate that is used for dipping. This stuff definitely gives a little sting to the lips and perhaps other, more subtle, effects. It's a good idea not to have more than one serving of liver.

Many sushi connoiseurs assert that fugu is a bland tasting fish and that the only explanation for its extreme popularity in Japan is the risk in eating it.

I disagree with this position. Fugu is quite good in its many forms, but beyond that it is an exercise in trust between the client, the fish, and the chef - a fair trade for a pleasurable experience directly in line with the Japanese aesthetic of celebration with nature.

Many of us in the world fly from place to place. If you have ever touched the window on a jet aircraft as it is cruising, you are within an inch of certain fatality. The human body suffers ignoble consequence at 600 mph and 60 degrees below zero. Yet we trust a specially licensed pilot to guide us through the process. And many of us contribute dozens or hundreds of hours to that process annually - and, after the first year or so of practice, there is no thrill whatsoever in doing so. Contrast that with the very thrilling process of ingesting a precisely prepared amount of a neurotoxin that is something like 1100 times more deadly than cyanide with much less risk of fatality than getting on an airplane.

Bon appetite!

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People Pulling

Wow, MC. Very cool!

Posted by: the pragmatic chef™ at Dec 1, 2005 3:16:15 PM

Nope, not this kid. Don't like non-poisonous seafood, why on earth would I eat that which *is* poisonous?

Posted by: jlb at Dec 1, 2005 5:33:30 PM

I'm so jealous. It's on my Walter Mitty list. Someday.

Posted by: prairie biker at Sep 10, 2007 7:25:02 PM

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