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Sushi's cruel amusements

Shrimp Liberation Front, anybody?

The shrimp, cut in two, head part still alive and gazing upon his cooked abdomen lying in front of him
The shrimp, cut in two, head part still alive and gazing upon his cooked abdomen lying in front of him

Can we stop this already? I’m in a Japanese sushi eatery. The sushi chef - attractive girl – takes this live shrimp, throws his rear end into the fryer, brings it out red and cooked, puts it on the plate, and hands it to a guest with the head end of the shrimp very much alive. Customer’s supposed to eat his tail and laugh while the shrimp looks at him/her, kind of puzzled.

I want to throw up.

I know, foodwise, we are killing stuff every day, from lettuces to lambs to cows to sharks. Morally, we don’t have a leg to stand on, except that, hey, we’ve got to kill, to eat, to live, don’t we? Even vegans destroy life to eat. But this? It has something gratuitous about it, actually enjoying a creature’s suffering while you eat him.

I’m not naming the place because lots, maybe most, sushi places think it’s cool to be cruel this way. Asia, especially, is known for its sub-culture of eating parts of animals, like monkeys and snakes and frogs and rats and octopus, while they’re alive.

Fried grasshoppers

Okay, I’m not clean, either. I’ve eaten cockroaches in Cambodia (grilled), grasshoppers in Escondido (fried), huhu bugs in New Zealand (live, from rotting logs), oysters straight out of their shell (living, of course), live sea urchins at the Little Italy farmers’ market. Once a week, when I was working on a New Zealand sheep station, I slit the throat of a sheep, and cut her up to feed the sheep dogs. That was hard. But I told myself at least I wasn’t being hypocritical: eating meat, but leaving the responsibility of killing the animal to others. Once in Australia, on orders from my farming cousin, I went out and shot a distant kangaroo. A whole herd of them were munching away at the pasture his cows needed. It was like a scene from Jurassic Park. Unreal. I never thought I’d actually hit any of them. I did. When I got up to it, I saw it was a female, who — this is hard to admit — turned out to have a joey in her pocket. I can’t even remember what I did about that joey. But, maybe because of that day, I’ve always been super-conscious about life, how it’s just as valuable to the lettuce and the flea as mine is to me. Even though I still eat meat and squash fleas. So, I speak as a registered hypocrite. But at least I never did these things for laughs, or as in this case, to amuse customers.

That’s why this and every other San Diego sushi joint’s trick of having you eat one part of their shrimp or fish while the other part of him stays alive and looks on, has got to stop.

Shrimp Liberation Front, anybody?

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The shrimp, cut in two, head part still alive and gazing upon his cooked abdomen lying in front of him
The shrimp, cut in two, head part still alive and gazing upon his cooked abdomen lying in front of him

Can we stop this already? I’m in a Japanese sushi eatery. The sushi chef - attractive girl – takes this live shrimp, throws his rear end into the fryer, brings it out red and cooked, puts it on the plate, and hands it to a guest with the head end of the shrimp very much alive. Customer’s supposed to eat his tail and laugh while the shrimp looks at him/her, kind of puzzled.

I want to throw up.

I know, foodwise, we are killing stuff every day, from lettuces to lambs to cows to sharks. Morally, we don’t have a leg to stand on, except that, hey, we’ve got to kill, to eat, to live, don’t we? Even vegans destroy life to eat. But this? It has something gratuitous about it, actually enjoying a creature’s suffering while you eat him.

I’m not naming the place because lots, maybe most, sushi places think it’s cool to be cruel this way. Asia, especially, is known for its sub-culture of eating parts of animals, like monkeys and snakes and frogs and rats and octopus, while they’re alive.

Fried grasshoppers

Okay, I’m not clean, either. I’ve eaten cockroaches in Cambodia (grilled), grasshoppers in Escondido (fried), huhu bugs in New Zealand (live, from rotting logs), oysters straight out of their shell (living, of course), live sea urchins at the Little Italy farmers’ market. Once a week, when I was working on a New Zealand sheep station, I slit the throat of a sheep, and cut her up to feed the sheep dogs. That was hard. But I told myself at least I wasn’t being hypocritical: eating meat, but leaving the responsibility of killing the animal to others. Once in Australia, on orders from my farming cousin, I went out and shot a distant kangaroo. A whole herd of them were munching away at the pasture his cows needed. It was like a scene from Jurassic Park. Unreal. I never thought I’d actually hit any of them. I did. When I got up to it, I saw it was a female, who — this is hard to admit — turned out to have a joey in her pocket. I can’t even remember what I did about that joey. But, maybe because of that day, I’ve always been super-conscious about life, how it’s just as valuable to the lettuce and the flea as mine is to me. Even though I still eat meat and squash fleas. So, I speak as a registered hypocrite. But at least I never did these things for laughs, or as in this case, to amuse customers.

That’s why this and every other San Diego sushi joint’s trick of having you eat one part of their shrimp or fish while the other part of him stays alive and looks on, has got to stop.

Shrimp Liberation Front, anybody?

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