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September 21, 2011


Dear Dave --

I work in southern Japan as a public school English teacher, and one of my favorite books is Dave Barry Does Japan. It always makes me feel better when I'm a little culture-shocked or homesick. I wanted to write in with an update on the food situation here. Until today, I thought I was pretty familiar and comfortable with Japanese food, having even tried horse sashimi at one point, but this afternoon, I went to the staff lunchroom to discover rice balls with mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, and hornet larvae. I was sure that it was a prank by the school principal, but several of the teachers informed me that this is relatively common in the Japanese countryside in autumn. Apparently, things are much worse here than we thought.

-- Garrett Groesbeck


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I'm betting being a health inspector is not an easy job.
--"I'm going to have to write up a violation here, unless that is on the menu . . ."

ugh. not sure i'm comfortable eating, ahem, any kinda balls, rice or otherwise....

I heard they go really well with tea. Made from tea bags, of course.

I much prefer wasp larvae over hornet larvae.

Is it organic hornet larvae? I hate that microwave stuff.

I hear it stings a bit.

You mean hornet maggots?

Didn't Hornet Larvae open for Whitesnake?

Not sure it was hornet, but you could always find buckets of some kind of insect larva for sale in the parks of Seoul - probably a remnant of one of the many Japanese invasions of Korea over the years. I think you just bought what you could eat-- not a whole bucket.

I know what you mean, Queensbee. I've always wondered what they do with the rest of the matzo after making the soup.

Well, it seems these is one of their exotic delicacies. It's way better than the Fetus soup.

Poor Garrett. Maybe you could get in touch with our friend Joe in Japan and meet for a pizza with corn.

I know of no law in the US that would prohibit this excepting fraud or deception in the presentation and sale.
With few exceptions, a manufacturer doesn't have to prove food safe, just that it is not unsafe.
You can go into a restaurant and order a raw hamburger and get one (if the restaurant agrees). But the restaurant better not advertise a raw hamburger as being safe.
Confused? It depends on assumption of liability.
Before the Internet, I would have said that anyone selling grubs for food would go broke lightning-quickly.
Now, I don't know.

I did a graduate fellowship in Japan. My Japanese friends would take me out, load me up with Kirin, Asahi and sake, and then make me eat things that they wouldn't identify until after I had eaten them. I learned to gauge the relative repulsivity by the amount of laughter spewing from them while I chewed and said, "Napukin o motte kite kudasaimasuka? (May I have a napkin)." Aah, good times.

Strictly speaking, layzee, "motte kite" is usually translated as "bring" (literally: "motte" = "carrying"; "kite" = "come"). So, "please bring (me) a napkin".

Have they never heard of pizza? Bleah!

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