Beware the Walu

“Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison,
and everything I don’t eat has been proved to be indispensable to life…..
But I go marching on.”

George Bernard Shaw

poop fish
(an image borrowed from the web of a “Walu” fish, otherwise known as escolar–the image says it all)

Firstly I want to thank you all for your the prayerful love extended to both me and my family as we struggled over the weekend, and continue to struggle, with the sudden the death of my father-n-law.
At some point in the near future, I will touch base on this latest detour within Life’s journey…
however today…I thought we could all benefit from a bit of uplifting levity.

I always marvel at God’s impeccable timing…as well as for the depth of His comfort, joy and even laughter when it seems we are at our lowest…and have fallen to the bottom of our despair…
…Of how He works ever so gently, reminding us of His ever constant presence…especially when we feel most overwhelmed and alone.

Sometimes He comes as a gentle breeze cooling the tear streaked cheeks of sorrow…
other times He comes riding in on the wings of comedic diversion….

Today it is upon the wings of comedy I wish to expand as I want to share the tale of a fish…
A fish by any other name would taste so sweet….

Saturday had been a very long day.
It was the day following the sudden death of my 92 year old father-n-law. Whereas he was in his ninties, he was still very much alive and quite active…still working and very much a part of our daily lives.
I had been cooking for him on Wednesdays as my husband and I would take him supper and then breakfast every Sunday. He was not one for wearing his dentures, so meals were “soft”–lots of fish and mashed potatoes.

Saturday evening following the visitation at the funeral home and prior to Sunday’s funeral, my husband and I found ourselves exhausted both physically as well as emotionally. Here it was 9 PM as we drove back home when we suddenly realized how hungry we were…as we couldn’t remember when we had actually last eaten.

Thinking by 9PM most restaurant crowds would be tapering off, we headed to the local Longhorn Steak House… only to be met by throngs of girls in softball uniforms waiting outside. It seems a tournament had taken place earlier and now the hungry players had amassed for a healthy dose of protein.

“Go on to Lil Hawaiian” my now disgruntled husband groused.
Lil Hawaiian is a local restaurant run by a Hawaiian chef who specializes in fresh fish with a Polynesian flare. His fish is not the typical fish found so far inland such as trout, catfish or tilapia but rather fresh fish he has flown in often from the west coast.

Tired and very hungry I scan the menu noting that several of my go-to favorites are sold out. My husband sticks to his safe standard of steak and shrimp as I eye something that sounds good asking our server her opinion.. “Oh I love walu, it’s a buttery fish”
Butter?
My ears perk up.
Being a lover of all things butter, I tell her I’ll take it.

Moments later our food arrives.
I am presented with a lovely piece of white pan sautéed fish topped with a ginger shiitake mushroom sauce paired with jasmine rice and sautéed snow peas.
The first bite was divine.
A wonderful unctuous and satiny fish that practically melted in ones mouth.
I offer my husband a bite, who laments that he now wishes he’d been adventuresome, ordering the same.

As I finish the last bite asking my husband, who is an avid fisherman, if he’s ever heard of walu.
He casually munches on his shrimp and cheekily tells me that it’s probably a trash fish.
Grabbing my phone I decide to google walu.

My eyes suddenly grow wide and my mouth hangs open as I begin to scan the top links for the walu fish…

“World’s most dangerous fish…”

WHAT?

“Don’t eat escolar…”

Escolar??!!?

“Oh I didn’t eat escolar, I ate walu…WHEW”
the rising panic starts to subside…
when the very next line listing the other names offered for the escolar fish….
jumps right at me…W A L U

From food blogs to nutritionists, from fisherman to even TripAdvisor…every link’s top line consisted of one of the following disclaimers…

“don’t”

“beware”

“dangerous”

“to be avoided”

down to

“avoid at all costs the ex-lax fish of Hawaii

or

“don’t eat the poop fish of Hawaii.”

By now I’ve turned pale while my husband stares at me during mid chew of his steak.

I begin reading aloud…

...The escolar, aka walu fish, is a delightful buttery fish with a dangerous side effect.
It is so bad that the fish has been banned from public consumption in Japan, Italy, Australia with the EU mandating that the fish be packaged with a health warning…

Warning number seven on one such disclaimer especially caught my eye…

7. Pre-Existing Conditions. As always, pregnant women have no fun. Also, people with malabsorption or bowel problems should probably just stay away. Unless you find your bathroom comfortable and you dislike your pants

Anyone who knows me, knows I have suffered with IBS my entire life.
My stomach and I are not friends and I work very very hard to keep it happy.
This is absolutely the last thing I needed…an innocently consumed yet guaranteed trigger for misery….
all during a very important and busy weekend…

What exactly happens to those poor souls who knowingly, or unknowingly such as in my case, consume this so called “butter” fish of which you are now most likely wondering…
well…I don’t wish to be too graphic but I will simply cut and paste to the chase…

“But the buttery fish is actually a kind of snake mackerel, a deep-sea bottom-feeder full of a wax ester that accounts for its dreamy velvety texture. Unfortunately, that oil is not digestible by humans and causes severe gastrointestinal distress in some people. It has earned escolar the nickname “Ex-Lax fish.”

Well, a ‘laxative like effect’ is how my fish monger described it. Others would describe it as closer to diahhrea. An expert would call it ‘keriorrhoea’. Literally translated, it means ‘flow of wax’. Oily orange droplets pouring out your pooper. Keriorrhoea occurs because the wax esters in the flesh of the fish pool up in your intestine.

Symptoms can begin anywhere from 30 minutes to 36 hours following consumption.

With that last little fun fact, my husband quickly asks for the check, as he hasn’t even finished his last bite of food, wondering aloud why in the world would a place with a Hawaiian chef, of all things, knowingly offer such to their customers?????

We race as if our lives depended upon it head home with me wondering if we shouldn’t just detour to the ER so I could get my stomach pumped.

A long story short…

With our Sunday filled with the sorrow of official good-byes, families, friends and an emotionally heavy sadness, I knew the last thing we’d need would be for me to be in some sort of physical distress.

I actually did not feel well throughout much of the night but hoped it was simply nerves generated from the current events.
The following morning, in order to be on the safe side with an added bit of insurance to safely survive the funeral, I downed several Immodium.

By late that evening we gratefully realized we had made it through the rigors of the day.
Following the ceremony, the family gathered back at my father-n-law’s house as the church ladies provided the family with a lovingly cooked meal…but I hadn’t much of an appetite only picking over the food.

By Monday morning I thought that my 36 hour window was coming to a thankful close. I would be home free… escaping the wrath of the walu—-that was…until after a morning cup of coffee…

Oddly and seemingly out of nowhere, there were strange rumblings coming from somewhere deep within our house…alarmingly it dawned on me, those loud rumblings were coming from somewhere deep within my own gut….and they weren’t rumblings of hunger….

Later in the morning, I managed to call my husband, who was by now safely at work and back to a much needed routine…
I wanted to inform him that it was official…
the walu fish had finally made its presence known in my life…and it was not pretty…

The good thing, the thing that I was most grateful for however, was that I made it through the difficulties of the weekend without the added misery of an unhappy digestive tract…as disaster thankfully waited to strike at a more convenient time.

Had I not “researched” the walu fish, I would have thought for certain that the sweet church ladies had given me some ghastly gift of food poisoning with their love offering of a wonderful southern spread.
But with my having been fully educated at the dinner table the night prior, I knew all too well that I was suffering from the revenge of the Walu…

Odd coincidence or bad dinner choices or perhaps God’s delightful way of adding a little levity and a bit of diversion to our otherwise overtly sad detour on the journey of Life….

Now can someone please quickly pass the Immodium…

Here’s a little link for your own research into the effects of the escolar / walu fish…

http://blog.medellitin.com/2008/12/escolar-world-most-dangerous-fish.html

20 comments on “Beware the Walu

  1. David says:

    I don’t know whether to like this post or not Julie. I like most fish but have never heard of this one. Like you I have a certain sensitivity in the gut region due to diverticular disease which resulted in half of my insides being removed 16 years ago. So I do feel for you. Perhaps I shall stick to steak in future? (Great steak on the stone in Ireland last week.) Hope you are now fully recovered. David

    • Oh you need to like it or at least laugh–as I could so find the humor in it all–the absurdity as well, but certainly a good needed dose of humor—
      you too with the diverticular?! Gregory as well—same surgery about 15 years ago—guts—gotta love um 🙂
      yes, beware the walu, butterfish, wahoo, white tuna, escolar….unless you are one who needs “help” in that area 😉

      • David says:

        No help needed Julie! So Gregory has the same 12 inch scar! 10 days in hospital and two months off work. I shall never forget the pain coming round from surgery. I had a morphine pump and they told me to stop sending Morse code on it!

      • yep–but Gregory was in the hospital a week, got home for a day and went back to work like and idiot—but because he sits most of the day—I couldn’t say much as if there is no jeweler, there is no business—it was a time I am happy to forget…

      • David says:

        I slept sitting up for three months because of the pain and discomfort and Gregory went back to work after a day?!

      • Oh he was hurting but remember my use of the word idiot

  2. Wally Fry says:

    I feel really conflicted here, Julie. First, I stay sad over your loss and so understand the pain of an unexpected death. Mom was a week ago today, In just a few hours in fact. And I am off work again, just like then.

    Next, I hate you you were… um….afflicted by that fish.

    On the other hand…that was really funny!

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    I’m laughing, Julie, which is not really appropriate at a time like this, but I think you have to laugh, even in the direst of circumstances. God was helping you by keeping your feelings of sadness muffled under the weight of a fish. Think about it. He did the same thing with Jonah. When we don’t think we can handle things, God gives us just the right thing to help us through. Maybe because you’d learned so much the truth about Walu, it gave you the perseverance to get through the ordeal of the weekend. God has a purpose for all things. Glad you can laugh at this.

  4. Sheila Scorziello says:

    So sorry for your loss. But that a blessing that your father-in-law was still so active at 92! Amazing! But we did all have a great laugh at your expense!
    Oh my, what a scary fish! Good thing I’m not fond of fish or seafood. Never order it out. If I’m paying extra, I want something I really love! They should outlaw the Walu fish everywhere!

  5. Lynda says:

    Julie, just what you did not need! However, thank you for finding some amusement and sharing it with your friends. Laughter is good medicine indeed. Blessings and prayers for you and Gregory and family.

  6. Holy dysfunctional bowel movements batman, I can relate Julie, I’ll never read all the passages about fishing the same way again… 😀 thanks pal…

  7. Oh my gosh! I cannot believe this happened to at any time but certainly not now. I’m so sorry and hope that all of the discomfort is soon gone. I’m not a fish lover and now I’m finding it definitely off my list of food choices. Love and hugs, N 🙂 ❤

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