It Will Kill You: Puffer Fish

Foreigners are weird, eh? They?re not like me and you, are they?

Especially not you, sitting there in whatever normal country you?re in, reading this drivel and being all normal. For instance, you know Paraguay, right? Well over there in Paraguay they keep their shoes in their kitchen cupboards. IN THEIR KITCHEN CUPBOARDS FOR GOD?S SAKE! And did you know that everyone in Canada looks exactly like Martin Landau? Very odd.

But no one does odd quite like the Japanese, though, do they? You?re on the internet, you?ve seen things. You don?t have to admit it to us but we know you?ve seen some things. Some odd things. Some odd Japanese things. One of the strangest things they get up to over there is that they eat the second most poisonous vertebrae on earth. Voluntarily. So if you?re ever hungry in Japan, beware ?fugu? on the menu. Also, beware ?The Fugees? on the jukebox too. They really were terrible. Anyway, you may remember Homer Simpson ate puffer fish once. It didn?t go too well for him. Here?s why:

The puffer fish has enough poison to kill up to 30 people, poison which is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide. Very few restaurants actually serve fugu, as the special licence required to prepare it can take up to seven years to be rubber-stamped by authorities.

It takes just minutes for your entire body to become paralysed, including your whole respiratory system. Annoyingly though, you remain conscious throughout. And then, well this is It Will Kill You, it kills you.

While only an average of five people a year die from badly-prepared fugu (mostly home-cooked), between the years of 1947 and 1975, over 2,500 deaths were blamed on the fish dish in Japan alone. It?s thought that the economic depression suffered in the country after the second world war, caused people to rummage through restaurant bins in search of discarded food. Unfortunately for them, the only parts discard from fugu are the poisonous parts.

Only a small amount of the fish is actually poisonous. So in much the same way that Eurotrash was Russian roulette for mid-90?s masturbators, tucking into puffer fish can be dangerously hit and miss. For every story on a sexy Estonian milkmaid nymph or tasty suishi dish, there?s a feature on an overweight Belgian man yodelling in a penguin-suit or a mouthful of death.

The puffer fish is prepared alive and served correctly, it should still be twitching on the plate. Vegetarians might not want to get fugu confused with tofu.

So if you?ve learned one thing, it?s that tofu shouldn?t twitch.

Hecklerspray. Entertaining and informative.

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  1. Lougin says


    You are misinformed about Paraguayans keeping their shoes in kitchen cupboards. This is simply not true. I lived in Asuncion, Paraguay for six years and visited cities and rural areas throughout the countryside. I never saw the phenomenon that you speak of and never before heard anything about it – that is, before you posted about it.

    Additionally, my wife is Paraguayan and she confirms the following statement: Paraguayans do not store shoes in kitchen cupboards.

    Otherwise, your post was very interesting.

  2. says

    Thanks Lougin.

    You will be pleased to learn that Hecklerspray has terminated its South American shoe storage correspondant’s contract with immediate effect.

    We have however, given our resident expert on Canada a massive pay rise.

  3. JMTaylor says

    Nope, you’re gonna have to fire yr Canadian expert as well. You have been mis-informed, I have family living in Canada who look nothing like Martin Landau. Also when I was over there on holiday, didn’t see anyone who looked like Martin Landau! (Apart from said chap himself).

    Interesting article, although sorry to say I had already learned about fugu from The Simpsons years ago. With all that out the way, are there any vacancies now you have to fire two of your correspondents?

    Will work for food (oh and loads of money would also be quite nice).

  4. gilbert wham says

    Both the previous commenters are in fact skilled Astro-Turfers in the pay of their respective governments. I, in my capacity as a respected world traveller and bon vivant, can wholeheartedly confirm Mr Charnock’s testimony of their benighted nations.

    Where is my fish?