Monday, September 26, 2005

The Night of Tuna, god of Fish

Tuna: from Tuna, the female god of fish in Greek mythology whom Poseidon sealed inside a tin can for five years because she would never sit still. Tuna afterwards took vengeance on Poseidon by seducing him on an aromatic bed of freshly cooked white rice, then binding him with dried seaweed and rubbing wasabi into his eyes.

At least that is what I expected to find out when I looked up the etymology of “tuna.” However, according to Webster’s, it turns out that the word tuna is “American Spanish, alteration of Spanish atĂșn, modification of Arabic tun, from Latin thunnus, from Greek thynnos.” More specifically, according to this online “Catalog of Fishes," it originates from “Greek, thynnos = tunna + Greek, ichthys = fish (Ref. 45335).” This is further evidence of the importance of BBP: “the Benefit of the Boring Probability,” i.e. Gaijin’s theory that “most potentially interesting phenomena have profoundly uninteresting explanations.”

My friend Mr. Niioka Beheads the Tuna

The Tuna Head Thrown into the Fiery Furnace

It’s not everyday that one may join the director of a Japanese military hospital in eating flesh off a giant, charred fish head with a dessert spoon.

Nor does one frequently witness a famous surgeon who once operated on the emperor of Japan expertly applying his art to a fresh tuna carcass, also with a dessert spoon.

In the culinary world, this is called “snitching” i.e. the practice of ingesting cuisine in an unfinished state——in this case directly transferring the raw flesh of tuna from carcass to mouth.

This particular bluefin tuna was a small specimen of indifferent quality. It weighed in at 45kg and cost only $1,500. Fifteen friends of ydonoki went in on the purchase and in doing so each acquired for roughly $100 an assortment of fresh tuna that would sell for five or six times that value in Tokyo.

Pink Gold: A sample of oo-toro, the most expensive portions of tuna. On a super sale in Oma itself, this cut might go for about 2,000 yen. Most people would end up paying two or three times that under normal circumstances----ten times that if a highly qualified chef were to prepare it. Interestingly toro was not valued in Japanese cuisine until the 1960’s when new freezing technologies made its transportation to big city restaurants viable. The flesh of bluefin tuna is quite fatty, causing it to go bad very quickly, and for this reason it was not eaten at all in Japan until the Edo period when it was first used in sushi.

Note: The tuna found in cans comes from much smaller species of tuna with white or light pink meat rather than rich, read meat like that of the bluefin tuna.

"And oh, how they danced!"