Posted by: snaed | July 30, 2009

The Puffer Fish

BEFORE YOU READ

  1. What’s the most unusual meal you’ve ever eaten?
  2. What is the most expensive meal you’ve ever eaten?
  3. What do you think is special about the fish pictured on the left?

TARGET VOCABULARY

  1. breathe – take air into and out of the body
  2. export – send things out of a country
  3. identify – show or find out who someone is or what something is
  4. importt – send things out into a country
  5. license – permission given to someone who has passed an exam
  6. poison – something that hurts or kills people if they eat or touch it
  7. remove – take away
  8. symptom – a sign of sickness or disease

READING PASSAGE

In 1996, three men in California were taken to a hospital with strange symptoms. They felt dizzy, tired, and weak. They couldn’t speak, and they had trouble breathing. The hospital doctors thought the men had been poisoned, but couldn’t work out what was wrong with them. Then they found out the three men were all chefs, and they had just shared a dish of fugu.

Fugu, the Japanese name for the puffer fish, is one of the strangest fish in the ocean. The puffer fish gets its name from the way the fish protects itself from enemies. Whenever it is attacked, the fish puffs up (blows up) its body to over twice its normal size!

The reason the three men were taken to the hospital is because the puffer fish is also very poisonous. As a rule, if you eat a whole puffer fish, you will probably die. The three men had a close call, but they all survived.

The symptoms of fugu poisoning are a strange feeling around the mouth and throat, and difficulty breathing. You can’t breathe and your body can’t get any air. Your brain still works perfectly, however, so you know you are dying, but you can’t speak or do anythin about it.

Despite the danger of fugu poisoning, this strange, ugly, and very poisonous fish is actually a very expensive, and very popular, kind of food in Japan. Customers pay up to $200 per person to eat a fugu meal. Because of the danger, fugu can only be prepared by chefs with a special license from the government. These chefs are trained to identify and remove the poisonous parts of the fish. Most people who die form eating fugu these days are people who have tried their hand at preparing the fish themselves.

Fugu is saide to be so delicious that it has even started to be imported into Hong Kong and the United States. Several tons of fugu are now exported from Japan every year.

DID YOU KNOW?

The characters that make up the word “fugu” in Japanese mean “river pig,” because people used to think that the puffer fish looked like a pig.

READING COMPREHENSION

  1. What is the best title for this passage?
    • Fishing in Japan
    • A Dangerous Dish
    • The History of Fugu
    • A Talented Chef
  2. Why were the three men taken to the hospital?
    • Someone poisoned them.
    • They ate poison by accident.
    • They poisoned each other.
    • A doctor worked out their symptoms.
  3. What does the puffer fish do when an enemy tries to eat it?
    • It eats the enemy.
    • It makes poison.
    • It looks very ugly.
    • It becomes bigger.
  4. What is NOT a symptom of fugu poisoning?
    • breathing difficulty
    • tiredness and weakness
    • trouble speaking
    • your brain stops working
  5. Who is allowed to serve fugu?
    • people from California
    • licensed chefs
    • the government
    • anyone who wants to try their hand

IDIOMS

  1. as a rule – usually
    • As a rule, it’s cheaper to travel by train than fly.
    • As a rule, I don’t drink coffee before I go to bed.
  2. try one’s hand at something – attempt something for the first time
    • On my vacation, I tried my hand at scuba diving.
    • I’d never baked a cake before, so I thought I’d try my hand at it.
  3. a close call – an accident, or death, nearly happened
    • I had a close call when my car crashed.
    • The thief had a close call when the police almost caught him.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  1. What is a special food from your country? What foo from your country would visitors from another country enjoy?
  2. Would you eat fugu? What other dangerous activities would you try?
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