OSAKA, JAPAN: A custom officer holds a live eel imported from China for custom clearance at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, western Japan. Due to the upcoming eel-eating day on July 28… the Japanese airlines make special flights to import 109 tonnes of eels from China for Japan’s popular summer delicacy.
Next Thursday, July 28th, is Doyo-no-Ushi-no-Hi. Traditionally, Japanese say that this is the hottest day of the year. Everyone is supposed to eat eels since eating eels helps that metabolism, accelerates perspiration, makes up for the loss of energy and renews strength in the summer heat. Ri-i-i-ight.
The problem is that eels are a lot like Japanese people today—they refuse to breed in Japan. Japanese eel in serious decline but their desire to eat eel has increased…so the Japanese buy cheap Chinese eels.
Problem: Eels won’t breed in filthy, poluted Chinese waters so the Chinese airfreight in live young eels called “elvers,” from Europe. The European Union, concerned over depleting eel stocks since in the 2003-to-2004 elver season more than 600,000 pounds of baby eels were flown to China (but only about 30 percent survived). Then the surviving grown eels are flown alive to Japan. DAMN! These jetset eels have more mileage than a pack of Roppongi hookers.
Also listen to NPR’s program on: “Disappearance of Eels Worldwide Puzzles Scientists”.