Fish plays such a pivotal role in Japanese cuisine that one must take it that every inhabitant of the island-nation inherits the technique of handling fish or, if not, learns it while in school, at the latest. Learning to master four different sign systems, however, appears to be so expensive that there’s no room left in the teaching-plan for the small ABC of accurate fish handling. So, the Japanese have to wait until a later point in time to learn the competent method of handling their national flipper treasures. Every kiosk thus sells colourful books and manuals that provide step-by-step advice, with pictures, on how to handle, treat and carve up each and every species of fish. In the private kitchens of the land the «manual method» leads routinely to accidents that can have more or less drastic consequences – usually for the fish, but sometimes also for the cook.
Notorious in this regard is the fish that goes by the collective name of Fugu, which can be prepared in restaurant kitchens only by State-approved Fugu Masters. Over the last few years there have been no reports of fish-related accidents in restaurants and eateries, but dozens of hobby fishers and fish cooks have died every year in private homes in the country because of a lack of knowledge about the fish or an inadvertent little erroneous manipulation. Quite naturally, fish vendors take a vital interest in teaching their customers how to correctly pick, handle, and prepare the fish on offer in their stalls. For, dead customers are faithful but rotten buyers.
For this reason, fish experts of Fukuoka hold an «open house» on every second Saturday of the month. On this day, bargain hunters can buy fish at the wholesale prices and hobby fish-cooks can take courses offered by experts on issues such as the «History of the Tuna Fish», «Anatomy of the Calamary», or «Art of Filleting».
First Publication: 23-4-2013