Enda lunches on deadly catch of the day and spreads his message

Guests laughed nervously on being told their pufferfish had potential to kill

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at a press conference in Tokyo yesterday. Photograph: Yoshikazu Tsuno, Pool

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at a press conference in Tokyo yesterday. Photograph: Yoshikazu Tsuno, Pool

Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 07:19

The prime minister of Japan laid on a stunning tasting menu in his official residence. It was all lovely, but he said the fish was absolutely deadly. Enda made light work of his duck paté with port wine sauce. The consommé was a model of clarity; and the fatty tuna remarkably light on its feet.

Granted, the beef wasn’t Irish, but the Taoiseach was more than happy to chew a bit of local filet now that the Mullingar heifer is returning to Japan in triumph after a 12-year ban. The ships are already on the way.

Ireland’s major beef producers, accompanied by a man from the Farmer’s Journal, marked this happy occasion with a mega-tour of one of Tokyo’s biggest abattoirs. They came back to the hotel with their equivalent of holiday snaps – photographs of offal, inside and outside the cow and all stages in between.

Meanwhile, back at the PM’s house, the Irish VIP guests were about to start on their thinly sliced globefish when Shinzo Abe broke the news: this fish contains a toxin so dangerous it must be prepared for table only by licensed chefs who know how to cut it out.

The tiniest amount can be lethal. Death within the hour.

There was some nervous laughter.

It took a trip to Japan for Enda to discover that Paddy doesn’t always like to know what the story is.

“Fugu!” said somebody to the prime minister, who resisted the temptation to shout “Fugu too!” But hardly the way to talk to the man who has just won the undying love of the fatstock farmers of Ireland for removing the export ban.

Abe assured his Irish guests that they were in no danger, as the dish had been prepared by an expert.

Dine for Ireland
So the lads tucked in, although when signing up for the trip they expected to dine, not die, for Ireland. The globefish or pufferfish or Fugu, was served steamed. “White flesh, lovely taste, a bit like octopus but not rubbery” was the verdict from our culinary spy.

So nothing to worry about there. But you’d still need a drink to steady the nerves while waiting for the paralysis to kick in.

There was a Chateau Mercian chardonnay and a Villa d’Este pinot Noir. Not forgetting the Sake Minowamon. From Fukushima, according to the label. That would be the Fukushima of the nuclear meltdown. Never mind.

The Taoiseach’s first engagement of the day was at a breakfast meeting of the Ireland Japan Chamber of Commerce. This gave him the chance to remind everyone that Ireland is the best small country in the world in which to exit the bailout while “doing business both ways”.

“Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu” he cried from the podium in flawless Japlebarese – a little known Japanese dialect spoken mainly in Mayo. The crowd burst into applause, like the night Queen Elizabeth wowed the crowd in Dublin Castle with her cúpla focail.

Enda thought he was asking his audience, in the formal Japanese style, to do him the honour of listening to his speech. What he actually said was: “Help. My donkey has been poisoned by a fugu fish.”

Great sense of humour, those Japanese.

This is a big trade mission – 29 companies are travelling with the Taoiseach. No sign of the Minister for Trade though. You’d nearly suspect they scheduled this trip to coincide with the Labour Party conference.

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