Breaking News

When food kills you

Zubin Dsouza
There are times when I feel my life could do with a little less drama. Here I am talking about food that kills and I definitely do not want to come across as some doomsday prophet.
Don’t eat fish…they contain high levels of mercury and stay away from conventionally grown vegetables because they are drenched in pesticides.
I know there is a possibility of dying a long and agonising death if I chose many of the foods that we have on the market today, but that is a story for another day.
This article is not about the numerous people who choked on their foods, who got a cherry pip stuck in their throats or sent a ham sandwich down the wrong tube.
This is about food that can kill you right now. It is akin to playing Russian Roulette where you replace the gun with a buffet and unknown to you, a couple of dishes on it can force you to leave the dining room in a hearse.
I do not particularly consider myself suicidal. I have been told that I am and many have predicted that one of these days, I would probably ‘eat myself to death’.
Death is inevitable – this is the pragmatic Indian in me speaking. We know it is coming, we have seen it around us and it somehow does not scare us as much as it would someone who at least had an ounce of sanity to their name.
I love to eat and my dalliances with food definitely tend to veer more towards the calorie laden good stuff as opposed to the strict regimented eating that so many of my companions can subject themselves to.
I know enough about food to realise that one day my predilection is going to lead to my unfortunate demise. But this means that I may still have years of eating ahead of me.
However, the future is not as rosy for several folks who tend to court danger each time they eat stuff that is extremely risky. I know that it could be a fun experience. When there is a possibility of death lurking within each bite, you get that sense of elation, a boost of testosterone coursing through your entire being and you imagine a burning sensation on your ear lobes and can feel your heart beating hard enough to rip right out through the cavity where it is stored.
But is the sense of euphoria worth it?
Over the years, hundreds have died in Korea whilst trying to eat live baby octopus which are considered a delicacy over there. Usually the cephalopods are compliant and resigned to their fates. There is however always the odd one who would resist ‘going down the hatch’ and may try and climb out of the place that you are trying to slide them down. In cases such as this, they reach out with their tentacles and jab their sucker pads against the sides of your throat causing asphyxiation and an unpleasantly grotesque death grimace.
People have choked before – on hot dogs and fish bones and figs and hard boiled sweets but those foods do not kill you consciously. This is an altogether different level of payback.
The Japanese have an even deadlier approach when they begin their dalliances with fugu or puffer fish. This little fish contains enough toxins within its skin, liver, ovaries and gonads to kill a horse. The diner trusts in the chef’s skill to navigate all the scary part and serve only the delicious bits. But then every once in a while, you get a chef who is slow on the uptake or who has been rather friendly with a bottle of firewater and a diner ends up dead.
Castor oil is a rather unassuming ingredient that we have all been exposed to. It is often used to relieve stomach aches, appears as a food and candy flavouring. The bean from which the oil is extracted is not so unassuming and contains enough of the deadly poison ricin to kill a child. Several beans can kill an adult.
Vietnam is teeming with bars that douse the still beating heart of a cobra with alcohol and sell it as a cocktail that is supposed to work on male machismo and virility simultaneously.
The cobra counts itself amongst the world’s deadliest and most poisonous snakes. Though the belly is slit, the fangs and the poison glands are very much intact and I wouldn’t agree to be within twenty miles of that death filled grip.
A-Ping is a Cambodian strain of the deadly black tarantula spider which is a popular source of protein in that country. They are often fried and sautéed but a really awesome way in which they are served is that they come to you in a basket live and are served with a pot of simmering hot oil. You pull one out from the basket and dip it in the oil and then munch them with the sauces on hand. While you have your eyes fixed on whether they are cooking well in the oil provided, the others have been known to escape and bite diners as revenge for their fallen comrades. And if that does not work, there have been several instances where the spider does not fry well enough and the toxins in the body start to work on the diner.
There are many other foods that fight against the human assumption that we are at the top of the food chain.
There is ackee which is the national fruit of Jamaica which contains poisonous seeds and Casu Marzu which is a Sardinian cheese teeming with maggots that can puncture your intestines faster than a woodpecker. Cherry seeds contain hydrogen cyanide and bitter almonds contain cyanide. Raw cashew nuts are dangerous as well and all these products need to be heat treated to make them worthy of human consumption.
Not that indulging in any of this food is going to make an amazing change to my life so I am sticking with my good old biryani instead!

Check Also

Sundays are for Konkani karaoke

DANUSKA DA GAMA | NT BUZZ The ongoing pandemic may have confined all of us …