And oh, that blow fish blow!

Trip Start Nov 02, 2009
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17
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Trip End Jan 06, 2010


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Flag of Japan  , Tōkyō,
Friday, December 18, 2009

December 16, 2009



Last night we went to the Mano family's for Shabu-shabu, it was Jeff’s first time since arriving and we were looking forward to it a lot! Mel and Toshi joined us and we sat down to begin our wonderful meal. The family was gracious as always and began to serve us. This time we were treated to fried oysters (I didn’t partake, you know my thing with fish) and some raw sashimi – squid, tuna, and who knows what (again, fish…). We had our meal and then papa-san came home. He worked at the big fish market downtown for many years and has access to the best, freshest fish and often surpises us when he comes home. Last night he brought something extra special!! Fugu!

Fugu (blow fish) is a fish which contains deadly poison in the organs. Despite the risk, fugu dishes remain as special feasts in Japan, Fugu is referred to as blow/globe/puffer fish since it blows its body up. In western Japan, fugu is called "fuku," which means "to blow" or "happiness." Shimonoseki-city in Yamaguchi, is known as fugu city and supplies a large amount of fugu.

There is an old expression such that "I want to eat fugu, but I don't want to die" in Japan. Since fugu's poison can lead to instantaneous deaths of diners, only licensed cooks are allowed to prepare fugu. You must have special skills and knowledge about fugu to be licensed. Poisonous parts of fugu differ, depending on the kind of fugu. Because of the strict regulations, the number of deaths is decreasing.

Fugu dishes are usually expensive. One meal can cost $100 to $200 per person at a famous restaurant. But there are less expensive fugu dishes, which I’m sure hoping is what we had. It's said that the most poisonous fugu, "Tora-fugu," is the most delicious. Tora-fugu is expensive and can cost over one hundred dollars at a fish market. Winter is the best season to eat fugu.

When it was brought to the table, I had no idea what it was and it looked so beautiful with a little dipping sauce. Toshi immediately lit up and said, "that is fugu!" He has only eaten it a couple of times before himself. Being the brave, fish-loving, eat-anything guy that I am, I said, “oh my goodness! Let’s try it!” And I did! Took that poisonous fish with my chopsticks, dipped it in the sauce and ate it! And you know what? It was darn good! The four of us finished the entire plate!

Today Jeff and KC and his fiancée Anonda were guests of the Mano family to the great old city I went to last year, Kiso-ji. (Check out last year’s blog for more on that city, http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/mark820/2/1227530100/tpod.html) They left at 4:00 this morning and haven’t returned as of yet. I’m anxious to hear all about their adventure!

Only one week to go and,

More later . . .
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