66. The blowfish chef

The blowfish chef whetted her fugu knife. For the first time in three days a customer had ordered the dish, which was among the most delicious in all of Japanese cuisine but could be lethal if not properly prepared.

Naoko first eliminated the fins, then severed most of the fish’s head. She’d gone through the routine thousands of times. So often in fact that it had become second nature. After removing the skin the knife disembowelled the animal. With surgical precision toxic organs, some as tiny as a pinhead, were quickly discarded to avoid contamination of edible parts. Preparing the dish took up to an hour and a single second of oversight could spell disaster. But Naoko didn’t break a sweat.

Five minutes after the dish was served a hubbub arose from the dining room floor. The maître d’ stormed into the kitchen to dial emergency services. Curious chefs left their stations to peer through the round windows in the kitchen door at the poor soul that had fallen victim to the fugu curse.

Not Naoko however. As methodically as she’d filleted the blowfish she removed her apron and stepped out the back door. Through the alley she advanced to the restaurant front, where – right next to the entrance – hung a small blackboard. ‘674 days since last blowfish poisoning’.

As she sank to her knees, holding the fugu knife, she was determined not to miss any vital organs this time.



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10 thoughts on “66. The blowfish chef

  1. i*Kan says:

    This one gave me goosebumps

  2. Brieuse Bernhard Piers-Gûdmönd says:

    I laughed all the way to the morgue. A great piece thanks.

  3. This one’s dear to my heart because my work in progress has a blowfish poisoning in it. Keep up the good work!

  4. hakariconstant says:

    Ah, culinary seppuku. Great story!

  5. I like the way you have conveyed the historical Japanese consciousness here. You could sort of predict how the story would pan out yet your empathy never waned.

  6. rosellezubey says:

    Great ending! You really left us hanging but it was a terrific suprise. You wonder if Naoko is going to commit suicide or if she’s just going to watch what happened. Nicely done!

  7. Danny James says:

    I thought she would erase the 674 number and start all over with the number one. Someone else will have to I guess. 🙂


  8. John says:

    Poor Naoko 😦

  9. Pavan Kumar says:

    awesome one :). Super liked it……

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