It's been 25 years since Homer nearly died in the second season of The Simpsons after eating fugu - a seafood specialty that is poisonous if prepared improperly. Now thanks to the youtube channel Great Big Story, you can take a look at the process of making this delicious, enigmatic and potentially deadly dish.
GBS spoke with Yutaka Sasaki, a Japanese chef who has prepared fugu for 45 years. He says that chefs must serve a 10-year apprenticeship before they're allowed to try their hand at preparing the puffer fish. "I serve this fish knowing your life is in my hands, so I have to do it with extreme care," he says.
That wasn't the case in The Simpsons episode One Fish, Two Fish, Blow Fish, Blue Fish (1991) when a bumbling apprentice took a crack at the dish, leading to fears that Homer had only 22 hours to live. According to Dr. Hibbert's prognosis, Homer wouldn't feel any pain until his heart suddenly exploded. That won't happen with actual fugu poisoning, nor will you spend your final minutes sitting in a chair listening to Larry King's audiobook of the Bible.
The puffer fish contains tetrodotoxin, which is 100 times more lethal than cyanide. And there is no cure, though doctors can provide treatments to save lives before diners succumb to asphyxiation caused by the poison. The mortality rate could be as high as 60 percent, though people stand an excellent chance of recovery if they survive the first 24 hours of sickness.
Despite those drawbacks, Sasaki encourages you to try fugu. "The dish is absolutely safe to eat," he told BGS. "If you watch me prepare it, you will feel safe too." Take a look at this clip of him making fugu and decide for yourself. We've added the clip from The Simpsons, because we know you want to watch it again or for the first time: