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Even though I'm Japanese, I do think that we eat an awful lot of food that could be considered to be odd.
I've had fugu sashi, and while fresh fugu is indeed delicious, I am not sure if the risk of a very uncomfortable death, or an even more uncomfortable recovery time in the hospital, is worth it. I'm looking at the puffer picture accompanying this post and want to poke it with a fork and eat it- the damn thing looks tasty. I would be more likely to eat the non-poisonous variety mentioned in the article, for what it is worth. I had the pleasure of eating fugu five years ago at a 100+ year old, family-owned fugu restaurant in Tokyo (after a day of hiking on Fujisan, just to make it even more perfect). Seems to usually be an immigrant family, so I'm guessing there is a mushroom here that looks just like an edible one back in their homeland. So maybe I'll have Fugu for my 80th birthday party and if I live then I'll have a few more years left to try it again! I also think it is interesting that most Americans are afraid to eat something that is less likely to kill them than their drive home. Only one problem; I can treat you for food poisoning caused by the exposure to intestional byproduct contamination with a high rate of recovery and very few side effects, but fugu toxin poisoning almost always carries long term side effects and is almost impossible to treat completely. My boyfriend just said from his napping-spot on the couch that he's had it, and that it was okay.
When reading a book called 'The Serpent and the Rainbow' (it was also a movie) years ago, I remember the author (Wade Davis) speculating that fugu poison may have been one element used in a poison that created real-life zombies in Haiti and the Caribbean. Another Texan chiming in - I eat sushi happily, but get a lot of flack about it from about half of my friends. I read "The Serpent and the Rainbow", a book by an ethnobotonist searching for the ingredients to the Caribbean zombi powder.
When I was in Japan as an exchange student ten years ago, my host father's birthday celebration include fugu sashimi, fugu hotpot and champagne. If I knew for absolute certain that it was a reliable chef who'd never had any incidents, I'd try it.
We had Fugu at Sushi Yasuda (in NYC) in May but it was the domestic type, bred poison-free.
I have been to Japan on 2 separate occasions and was offered by my gracious Japanese friends a chance at eating Fugu, and I had refused both times. Notwithstanding, being with the Japanese people and having studied your culture, I think everything Japanese is set in rigid rules and regulations. Also, since everything has a rigid sort of outcome, the risks of eating Fugu provides a romantic notion of something different. I don't think I would try this, I think it's too risky and I'm not really attracted to danger in general. While I would be curious to taste fugu and have trust in the chefs to prepare it in a non-poisonous way, I recently saw a documentary about fugu on tv, that shocked me. The fish would not be any less fresh if it had been killed right before cutting it up and serving, so I don't understand why it is done that way?
Considering that I currently find myself living in Shimonoseki which is the fugu-capital of Japan (everything from the busses to the sewer lids are branded with cartoon fugu) I have had the chance to try it. Just think about it this way- would you eat a cake if you knew there was poison around the edges? Having something besides sushi and miso soup does worlds of good for people in helping form their opinions of things, and eating fugu would give a thrill on top of furthering their knowledge and respect. I also like the idea of being able to tell my family and friends that I tried it and didn't die from it. I don't think that many other cultures in the world would start eating poisonous stuff, unless they have to. We ate fugu at one of the ryokan we stayed at during our honeymoon, as part of the kaiseki dinner.

If an unskilled or careless person accidentally pierces the organs or otherwise contaminates the edible flesh of the fish, then the diner may find that meal to be his last. This is a fun blog where various discussions around the interweb on all kinds of topics are translated into Japanese, for people who are curious about what 'the world' thinks, especially about Japan and Japanese people. I can't say 100% that given the right time and place I never would, but it is not something I am seeking out.
There are many, many things that are more worth being upset over than other people eating a potentially dangerous fish.
I absolutely eat hamburgers rare, and you will not get me to stop, but it is not for the 'thrill'. The meal included fugu soup, fugu face, fugu organs in a gelatin, the "chrysanthemum" presentation of fugu sashimi, and more. Here each year there are at least one or two reports of whole families getting sick or dying form eating wild mushrooms. I can't see the appeal of the risk myself and, no, I won't be trying fugu in the forseeable future. I'm not desperate to try it, but have never thought that I definitely wouldn't eat it, either. He didn't think that it stood out as the most delicious fish he's had, and didn't feel his lips tingle or anything.
I've gotten plenty of snide comments because I like eating raw fish (sushi) and here in Texas, they call that bait. While what you say may be true, there are NUMEROUS sushi and sushi-serving restaurants in Texas, and they are quite popular. I'm in the "no" category, not because it's dangerous - but because I keep puffers in my home aquarium and love them a little too much to eat one of their cousins. But cooked, raw fish is something I simply cannot eat, I've tried and couldn't handle the texture. Fugu is so expensive, I certainly did not feel at all nice if we ate this dangerous dish and something happened- somehow the locals never felt it was dangerous, it probably was a Gaijin thingy. There are so many fantastic food and simple delights at every corner in Japan that cost very little so why commit your life to something so expensive and possibly fatal. There is also so much protocol to follow for everything one undertakes- from traveling (Japanese guidebooks tell you specifically what to do, what to eat etc) to the trivial (there is a shocking number of guidelines available). While there is ranking outside but at the table, everyone is an equal, partaking an equal amount of risks and of their own choice.
While the outcome could be quite disastrous but I think from reading enough Japanese literature, that death is a romantic ideal too. Apparently they cut up the fish while it is still alive to have it served as fresh as possible! Even citing the risk involved, I think it would be neat to say that one was not afraid and tried it anyway in an attempt to understand more about the food and culture of Japan. I'm the one in my family notorious for trying new and crazy things, and I would love to add fugu to my list!
Fugu's main claim to fame, besides its extraordinary appearance (it puffs itself up to make itself look a lot bigger to predators), is that its skin and organs are highly poisonous. Despite all regulatory precautions, every year there are reports of people getting sick or even dying from fugu poisoning. No thank you, there are plenty of other very tasty fish in the sea that don't risk a painful death.
Also, there has been no majority of people, American or otherwise, saying they are "afraid"--just that it may not be a wise choice. I think it's worth trying once, so that you can impress your non-Japanese friends, but unless someone else is paying, I'm unlikely to eat fugu again.
The only people we heard of dying at the time seemed to be unlicenced people who had tried to cook it themselves.

I'm honestly not aware of anyone I know who would mock someone who enjoys sushi because most people I know--Texans--love it. That being said, I went to a ryokan up in Nagano and most of the courses for dinner were fish.
The Chef told me it tastes different in Japan so I'll likely try it when I'm in Japan one day, but I'll be doing a lot of research first.
The fish is fileted in full consciousness, with the chefs taking care not to pierce any of the inner organs so it will stay alive as along as possible! During the time I lived in Japan I learned that most people who get sick or die from Fugu poisoning are people who Have gone fishing and caught the fish and attempted to clean it themselves.
When I have Japanese food it tells me a lot about the people that created it and the area that it came from, and in a way I feel like I'm a little closer to the Japanese (as silly as that might sound). It would be right up there with the grilled fishheads I had in Kyoto and the jellyfish salad I had in Tokyo. Recently there was a case in Toyama prefecture, where nine people who partook of fugu at a sushi restaurant were taken ill; of the 2 people who lost consciousness, one is still in a coma. This post was in fact inspired by a comment left there, and used with the owner Michiru-san's blessing. Thanks for the random cheap shot though--you've just made yourself out to be no better than these "scared Americans" you mock. You're just as likely to get ill from the other kinds of sashimi and sushi the chef serves as you are from the fugu, in my opinion. When fugu came along I figured "Why not?" It was deep fried, which is the most tolerable form of fish in my opinion and it was DELICIOUS. I find that so incredible, nightmarishly cruel, I would never eat this fish at a restaurant, where this way of preparing fugu is practiced. It is a relatively common fish, easy to catch and because it is such an expensive delicacy some people who catch one think it is worth the risk to prepare it themselves often with fatal results.
I was a little afraid to try it, but I wanted to try as many new things as I could during my trip. It's now fugu season in fact, so many people are tucking in to fugu sashi (fugu sashimi), fugu nabe (fugu hotpot), and so on.
The multi-generational aspect of this restaurant was reassuring as I had heard that once your fugu fatally poisons a customer, you're no longer allowed to be in the fugu serving business.
I'd eat it again, although it's so expensive, I think your money is better spent on Japan's many less notorious yet still "oishi" delicacies. I don't know of any places that serve fugu in my part of Texas, but I haven't been looking either. I had heard that fugu gives a slight numbing sensation to the lips and mouth but I guess this had no poison.
I'm going to look now, though, just in case the opportunity presents itself for me to try it. Food, rest, help, those are all wonderful things … where did all that help come from?
I’m just shy of 8 weeks with my seventh, and after two miscarriages, telling everyone was hard. Unfortunately, the dreaded nausea has already hit, and with six young children, supper is just about all I can handle these days.

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