A little over a year ago, the Butterfish and I first met. It was a cold, snowy night on the lake in western New York – isn’t it always? In hindsight, I was just an innocent babe then; trusting and carefree. But not for long.
Although it spent just minutes in my mouth, the Butterfish legacy is a memory that will haunt me for many years to come.
I was in Buffalo attending some meetings, and since my boss never wanted to spring for a rental car, I had to slog a half a mile twice each day in three feet of snow past drug dealers and panhandlers and uphill and in four-inch heels. Worst of all, I was more or less trapped at the Hampton Inn each night. Food options were scarce, but there was an Asian fusion restaurant downstairs that offered room service. I’d eaten there the night before and opted for some Thai soup and a salad, which was pretty good. However, on this particular night I was tempted by the butterfish, touted as the ‘filet mignon of the sea.’
Filet mignon, you say? And for just $17.99? Bring it on!!!
A half an hour later, it was delivered to me in a Styrofoam box along with some plastic cutlery. Despite the unassuming presentation, I will say that on the way down it was delicious. Rich, flavorful, and quite buttery – it really was some damn good fish. I still recall savoring the last bites, as little did I know that the filet mignon of the sea doubles as the Ex-Lax of the sea.
But more about that in a second.
What I’m about to describe you will not doubt find disturbing. Not quite as disturbing as I did that cold December week…but disturbing. Nonetheless, I consider it a critical public service to warn you about the dire threat this unassuming salt water dweller poses to your underwear, your pants, and yes, even your couch.
Remember “Olestra”? The fake oil put into “WOW” potato chips, potent enough to require that warnings be posted on the bags?
Well, move over, Olestra. Butter fish would like to show you how it’s done.
You see, although it’s oh-so-good on the way down, Butter fish – thanks to its high content of indigestible wax esters – makes orange oil shoot out of your @ss. Whenever it so pleases. For a week.
Why am I bringing this up?
Well, because I saw it on two menus in Hawaii! And I only ate out three times. And it was presented there as a viable entree, without any kind of posted warning or danger symbol or requirements to sign a waiver. And because I’m just insane enough that I was tempted to get it just to see if it was as good as I remembered and – of course – for blogging purposes. Because no one loves stories about inadvertently ruining rental cars and plane seats more than me. Guaranteed hilarity! But then thoughts of my window seat on a packed six-hour red eye – and the reality that they probably wouldn’t let me switch seats after I ruined mine – knocked me back to my senses.
Anyway, when heading into battle, it’s important to know the enemy. Like any good demonic entity, the fish is known by many names:
“Thar She Blows!”
“Super white Tuna”
“Say Goodbye to Those Khakis”
And if that isn’t enough, take a gander at this little nugget of investigative reporting I swiped from another site reporting this alarming but absurd (but true!) story as hard-hitting news:
‘As early as 1990, the FDA issued a warning bulletin recommending the cessation of escolar exportation due to the unpleasant evacuation results. It was lifted a short time later because the fish was found to be “nontoxic.” Meanwhile, Japan banned sale of it the fish outright, a ban that continues to this day. In 2007, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a “fact sheet” about escolar that alerted customers to the potential for adverse effects.’
And from this I conclude three things:
The American obesity epidemic might be greatly reduced if we started subbing escolar into all Friday ‘Fish and Chips’ school lunches.
The Japanese are an imminently sane and rational people.
Should you decide to try a little Butterfish for yourself, insist that the waiter provide you with a doggie bag full of Depends adult diapers and a Tide Stain Stick ToGo. And make sure you have an aisle seat for the flight home.