Fugu: A User's Guide To The World's Most Dangerous Dinner (VIDEO)
In this week's New York magazine, fearless food critic Adam Platt travels to Japan to dine on the notorious fugu fish, which, if not properly prepared, is so lethal that a six-pound serving "has enough poison to take out at least 32 healthy adults, " Tom Parker Bowles, author of The Year of Eating Dangerously, says in the article. And yet it's still served in some restaurants. Which makes one wonder, what's fugu all about? Why do people still eat it? Could it possibly taste that good? To help answer these burning questions, we whipped up a guide to the world's most dangerous dinner:
Fugu contains lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin in the internal organs, especially the liver and ovaries, and also the skin. Therefore, only specially licensed chefs are allowed to prepare and sell fugu to the public, and the consumption of the liver and ovaries is forbidden.
A number of people die every year from consuming improperly prepared fugu. The poison, a sodium channel blocker, paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. There is currently no antidote, and the standard medical approach is to try to support the respiratory and circulatory system until the effect of the poison wears off. It is alleged that non-lethal quantities of the poison remain in the flesh of the fish and give a special desired tingling sensation on the tongue, which leads to the fingers.
[Food critic] Ruth Reichl has sampled deadly fugu ("It's like eating fluke," she told me, "only you're playing Russian roulette").
Where can you find fugu?
Check out this list of American restaurants that have put fugu on their menu.
How is fugu prepared?
Once you have eaten part of the fugu sashimi, you will undoubtedly know if you have consumed too much poison. The lips and tongue go almost entirely numb in a similar sensation to tasting cocaine. This is called in popular culture, "The Taste of Death." If this does not occur in around ten to fifteen seconds, according to some connoisseurs, then the toxin is not present.
Death by dinner sounds pretty scary, but what else is frightening about fugu?
That it appears to have this sinister pulse even after it's been put on a plate:
Have you had fugu? If so, we're glad you're still with us. So tell us: what does it taste like? Did you feel any after-effects?