"" Writer's Wanderings: Deadly Delicacies

Friday, June 10, 2016

Deadly Delicacies

In light of a severe stomach ache that sent our son to the ER in Tokyo, I thought it might be good to share some cautionary comments on the local delicacies that you might be tempted to try while traveling. Our son is pretty careful about what he eats but since living in Japan for several years his palette has expanded to include things his boyhood self would have retched at the sight of. Thankfully his malaise didn't seem to be a major problem and in a couple of days he was much better. Was it something he ate?

While visiting Japan we noticed a restaurant that had a tank of live puffer fish and asked our Japanese daughter-in-law if they were on the menu. Yes, she answered, but you had to be very careful where you ate them. The chef has to be licensed to prepare them for consumption. I passed. For the record, they are called fugu fish and can be quite deadly if not prepared properly. If you are eating sushi be sure to ask what you are being served.

Another Asian delicacy, this one from South Korea, is called Sannakji. Basically it is the tentacles cut from small live octopus. You eat them while they are still wiggling. I seem to remember one of those traveling epicureans eating some on the Travel Channel once. Yes, they can be deadly if not prepared properly although if they are live and eaten fresh I'm not sure what the preparation would be. I'll pass.

While in South America, I remember seeing cassava root for sale in the open air marketplace. I did not realize that it can also be deadly if not properly soaked and dried. The cyanide in it can kill you. Hmmm. Sounds like something I could use in another mystery novel.

In Jamaica there is a fruit called Ackee. You must truly trust the person serving it to you to know if it is fully ripe. If not it too can be deadly if you become stricken with the Jamaican vomiting sickness. If you must eat it and it is ripe, be sure to eat only the yellow flesh. The black seeds are deadly as well.

Also on the list is the Namibian giant bull frog. Other lists include the hot dog (choking hazard), rhubarb leaves, monkey brains and a cheese from Sardinia that needs maggots to speed the processing. It's now illegal to make but people in Sardinia eat it anyway.

When it comes to foods be adventurous but be careful.

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