I don't eat eel; old habits die hard, I guess. But I started out to write that post about a story I heard on PBS yesterday. It was about the eel, as a culinary staple of some countries, while others worship or venerate the eel and will not eat it.
One culture, the commentator said, does eat and venerate the eel: the Maoris. They regard the eel as a spiritual guide, since eels are mysterious. Some species live up to a hundred and some years, they grow to enormous size, they have no gender until they grow to maturity in freshwater and move to salt water. And the Maori believe that some out of the eels they collect to eat are special. They behave or look different from the rest, crying like babies, or barking, some report. If one makes the mistake of eating those eels that cry or bark, that person or someone dear to him will die. The commentator reported the case of one enterprising fellow who imported eels, and sent one that cried to be slaughtered and sold. He dreamed he was being pursued by an army of eels that beat him on the chest. The man had a massive heart attack and died.
I can only hope that PBS is not eliminated entirely by the newest cuts to the national budget. What would I do without it? It brings so much of the world to me that I would not know without it.