The wasabi you’re eating isn’t.

In case you didn’t know; the Washington Post has a good explanation of why you nor I have probably never eaten real wasabi.

But even the common substitute can have unexpected side-effects.

I recently read of a woman from Israel who mistook Wasabi (the ubiquitous phoney version) for avocado, and consumed about a teaspoon of it. It gave her an attack of takotsubo cardiomyopathy, commonly known as “broken heart syndrome.”

It’s easy to think “how stupid,” but I can empathize. My own journey with Japanese food began in the late 80s when I was doing a lot of traveling. I was passing through New York on business I decided I would try sashimi for the first time, and they brought me a lovely little platter of the famous delicacies. I gingerly tried this and that (pun on *gari* intended), until I came to this little green ball. Knowing nothing no never at all and thinking it was some kind of fish paste, I popped it in and down it went.

The floor did a samba, my ears rang like the bells of Old Bailey, my eyes spun backwards and I screamed “A Eywa! Lu tstal-txewk mì re’o oeyä!” (Oh God! There’s an axe in my head!) After things had settled down, I used my best broken Japanese to ask my server “What in the name of Sugawara no Michizane was *that*???”

At which point I learned that balls of Wasabi, real or ersatz, are not to be eaten whole. But I can see how someone who had a particular susceptibility could be adversely affected why such an experience.

For what it’s worth, I still love sashimi and still use wasabi, but only in the recommended small doses.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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