Last night, I met my friend Gesina for dinner at a casual little sushi joint down the street. Over bottles of Kirin Light, we caught up on important matters such as her new haircut (totally hot), my lack of a job (starting to get annoying), and race week tapering (she’s running a half this weekend, and of course I have my full on Saturday).
And then we got down to the business of fish and roll selection. We are girls who like to eat.
Spicy Tuna Roll, Wasabi Dynamite Roll, Asparagus Tempura Roll. A few pieces of sushi – or sashimi? No, sushi…we need pre-race carbs! How about one more roll…
The list of rolls was long, and eventually I gave up on reading each and every description and started just scanning for money ingredients. Like eel sauce.
“How about the White Roll?” I suggested. It sounded downright decadent. “Salmon, cream cheese, tempura crunch, and eel sauce wrapped with escloar.”
I paused for a second and thought about that last one. “Wait, escolar…isn’t that, like, lettuce?”
“No, you’re thinking of something with a similar name,” said Gesina.
“Oh yeah. Escarole,” I agreed. “Escolar is…a fish?”
“I think so,” she said.
And being that we live in the world of smart phones, the mystery fish was immediately googled. G chuckled as her phone loaded the page.
“ESCOLAR: THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS FISH,” she read.
“Escolar is the most controversial fish that you are likely to find in your fish market,” she continued. “This firm, white fleshed fish as an incredibly rich flavor, often described as succulent, or a fattier version of swordfish. Why so rich? It turns out that – CRAP!”
Apparently, the phone’s battery was on the fritz; its screen faded to black, leaving the big question unanswered: WHY SO RICH indeed?
I briefly considered digging my own phone out of my purse to continue the research, but it seemed like more fun to be left in suspense. “Dangerous” or not, it sounded tasty. We placed our order and went back to beer sipping and chatting.
As it turns out: escolar is indeed delicious.
The whole thing was pretty amazing, actually, but it was the melt-in-your-mouth buttery white fish on the outside that put it over the top. It looked and tasted like the generic “white tuna” I’ve had many times at sushi joints, but a little fattier.
Later that night, I was lying in bed when my phone chirped. I picked it up to see an email from Gesina with a link to an article and two words: “Haha! YUM!”
And there we had our answer. WHY SO RICH? Because apparently escolar gives you the shits. And not just any shits. ORANGE, OILY SHITS.
The article is equal parts horrifying and hilarious, and the comments are even better: definitely worth a click through. However, as a summary: the escolar’s diet is high in something called “wax esters,” which it cannot digest, and neither can most people. So they come out the other end intact, creating something called “keriorrhoea,” which is just like diarrhea but even more fun, as you discharge waxy orange grease instead of regular poop.
Fortunately, neither of us has experienced this yet.
I’ve got a couple of things working in my favor here. For one thing, now that I know what it is, I’m certain I’ve eaten this fish before (as “white tuna”) and never had any ill effects. And I’ve eaten all sorts of weird and sketchy food while traveling (as has G – in fact, a few years ago we spent a summer bumming around Cambodia and Vietnam together, feasting on fried crickets and street meat and all sorts of unrefrigerated, unpasteurized, bacteria-ridden delicacies) so hopefully this “wax ester” business ain’t no thing to my stomach.
Still. NOT the smartest thing to consume three days before a big race. Although I feel totally fine (and based on most of the comments in that article, I would have started feeling the symptoms by now if they were going to present themselves), I’d be lying if I said a little part of me wasn’t on Keriorrhoeawatch this morning.
That fish was delicious, though. It would almost be worth it, even with the alleged after effects. Assuming I didn’t have a marathon to run, of course.
I guess we’ll see how this comes out.