Puffer Fish

Dew Dripped Spider Web

Dew Dripped Spider Web

I don’t usually go out for lunch to eat, at least not at work. There is a cafeteria in the building. It is convenient and the food is OK and sometime quite good. On those few occasions that I do go out to eat, it is usually with a group of co-workers. Like, when we go out to celebrate something. I can’t remember the last time that I went out for lunch by myself. The weather today was especially inauspicious, rainy and grey, turning colder and windy as the day wore on. There aren’t any good restaurants near work, mostly just fast food places, like McDonalds or Burger King. As I was pulling out of the parking lot a hankering for a Whopper was on my mind. As I was about to pull into the Burger King, I spied a hole-in-the-wall Asian place next door in a run down strip mall. So, I went there instead.

As it turns out this place was neither Chinese nor South Asian. They were Japanese, or more specifically from Okinawa. The place was called Puffer Fish and they specialized in seafood. It is located just east of Brown on Natural Bridge. Now, seafood in Saint Louis can be problematic. We are miles and miles from the nearest ocean, but the husband and wife team running the place were effusive in their welcome, the moment that I opened the door. I was still only one foot through the front door and was already having second thoughts and was about ready to go across the street for that Whopper, but I was the only customer there. So, I couldn’t very well sneak out.

They were so friendly that they both came out from behind the front counter and each shook my hand. In their actually quite good English they explained that today was the first day that they were open. Furthermore, I was their very first customer. They went on and on. They are immigrants, but are already enrolled in citizenship classes. Yesterday was an election day in some places, but not here in Saint Louis. They expressed their extreme pleasure with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decisive reelection.

The connection you see is this. Last year, during Romney’s presidential campaign, Mitt toyed with Christie as a running mate. I guess that he was never all that serious about choosing Christie, because he nicknamed him Puffer Fish. Do you see the connection now? This Japanese couple loved this auspicious connection, because as it turns out their restaurant is named after their specialty, the puffer fish. Since I was their very first customer, they offered to prepare for me their best meal for only a dollar. I fished my crispest bill out of wallet and the deal was cemented.

I didn’t learn this until later, but the puffer fish is the second-most poisonous vertebrate in the world, second only after the golden poison frog. Preparation of fugu as it is called in Japan requires the skills of a very adept chef; otherwise the customer is easily poisoned. It tasted great, more rich and savory than any other seafood that I have had. They stood grinning over me for most of the meal.

I did feel a little woozy on the way back to work. I was winding my way back to work, rounding the airport and passed under the final approach path when a large black jet passed overhead. It felt like the jet wash had spun me and my car up into the air, like some fall leaf in the wind. The moment passed and the car landed and I made it back to work safely.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

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