Takenoko-man

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Funasshi
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Takenoko-man

Post by Funasshi » Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:15 pm

A rather funny (and quite disturbing) thing happened to me last weekend so I thought I should share ;)

I love takenoko. So when I saw some nice and cheap takenoko (raw) in the supermarket I bought it right away, thinking we are going to have a feast...
Having always bought prepared/processed ones, it was my first time cooking takenoko. However, I already knew that it contains toxins which must be removed by boiling. What I didn't know was how important the length of boiling is, and also the way it should be cut for the boiling... So I basically just removed the outer parts and cut it in rings and boiled it for about 5 minutes. Stupid stupid funasshi didn't even google for it. :naughty:
Anyways, about 15 minutes after having consumed this nice (and still quite saku-saku) side dish, I started feeling real strange. My head went light, my heart started pounding more and more and my face, arms and legs started going slightly numb. The first thing that hit me was, oboy, it must be the takenoko. So I threw myself over the internet and with increasing panic started googling... and all the hits I read was about cyanogenic glycoside, and that it can even be fatal, and that the minimum boiling time of takenoko should be 30 minutes etc etc, my panic increased even more and so did my heartbeat and dizziness. Not being sure if my current state is the result of poisoning or panic, I did the safe thing and called the ambulance.
En route to the hospital, the ambulance guys took the usual measurements of temperature, blood pressure etc. Stating that my pressure was 140 over 103 and that was a bit worrying, plus I seem to have a bit of fever (36,8) at which point I told them that my normal temp is 37 so that is not a fever for a gaijin. I also asked them if I should be worried about poisoning due to takenoko, but they just laughed, shook their heads and said they have never heard of takenoko containing poisonous substances.
In the hospital (it was pretty late at night so no waiting time thankfully) I got to see the doctor right away. He asked if I understand Japanese, and I told him I do, if it is simple enough.
I have noticed that there are two types of Japanese when it comes to interacting with foreigners. The one type I find very annoying is those who ask you if you understand Japanese, and if you tell them you do understand simple Japanese, they just put in the highest gear and go for full Japanese cause in their head: all Japanese is simple. My doctor turned out to be one of those.
Anyway, first thing he did was to take my temp etc once more, stating that I am running a fever (and again I had to explain to him that I am not human :lol: )
Then he asked about my symptoms, about my dizziness and if being light headed means that currently the room and the walls are actually moving when I look at them. I told him it is not that severe, but it is not your usual everyday dizziness. He just shrugged and asked if I was having stomach ache. I told him I was feeling a bit sick but no ache. I asked him how dangerous takenoko's toxins are, and he said "what toxins?" to which I replied "The toxins which takenoko must be boiled in order to remove." He said: "Nope, there are no toxins, just the taste which is bitter. So we boil it to remove the bitter taste."
He then asked me how much I had eaten. I told him one whole takenoko. At that moment he couldn't hold himself and gave a "pffft" sounding laughter. :D
Having seen the facts on internet, and still believing that untreated, my life could be in danger, I told him that I needed to look up the right Japanese word. Took out my smartphone and looked up the word "シアン配糖体" and also googled up a Japanese page saying that takenoko does contain this stuff. (Pretty impressive feat. I did it while my vision kept going black, my hands and feet were itching, I couldn't feel the inside of my mouth and my stomach was turning around and around)
He had a look and then asked his nurse to fetch him some book or the other, and also asked to get his iPad. the nurse dropped the ipad while handing it to the doctor, after which he had trouble inputting text for a few minutes. Then he started googling stuff, and my stomach couldn't take it anymore so I excused myself and ran to the toilet and threw up.
Coming back, he was still googling, he told me to go out and wait in the waiting room.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, I was called in. I was feeling better at that time. Just a bit of tingling in my limbs and tongue. and very slight headache. The doctor's scoffing attitude had changed. He told me that tashika ni, there are toxins in takenoko. And then he proudly started showing his new discoveries on ipad for me, scrolling up and down in pages which seemed to me more like Chinese than Japanese due to heavy amount of kanji, and talking fast and quickly reading out to me bits from this page and bits from that page. It was pretty heavy duty level of Japanese so I just gave up trying to parse what he said and went into auto-nodding mode and saying naruhodo, but he didn't seem to want to stop and about 10 minutes later I had to interrupt him saying OK, this is great and all that, but what should a guy who has consumed this do in order to not die? Like should I drink lots of milk or something?
His answer was: "Yes, well, not sure, I am currently looking into that." I looked at the clock and almost 2 hours had passed since I had my feast. I told him that I had thrown up quite a bit, and I was starting to feel better. But I wanted to be sure that I could safely go home. He said that he was not sure but he could give me a drip and oxygen mask treatment for about 2-3 hours to clean me up. But it was up to me to decide. Otherwise I could go home and call ambulance again if I got worse. Initially I said OK and was asked to go out again and wait while he asked the nurse to prepare stuff. As soon as I sat down in the waiting room, feeling that I was better and that throwing up had something to do with it, and that the doctor seemed not sure about what he was doing regarding this particular situation, I changed my mind, and called to the nurse to stop preparations and tell the doctor that I want to go home. The nurse gave me a strange look and told me that it may be my personal opinion that I didn't need the oxygen and the drip, but the doctor in his professional authority had deemed it to be necessary. I told her that the doctor had taken that decision after checking if I wanted it or not, and that I had now changed my mind. She called the doctor on her cellphone and said "Hello doctor. You know the takenoko guy... He changed his mind about the oxygen etc. Is it OK?" (I swear she didn't use my name. So I guess I was now known as the takenoko-guy. Wonder how much they had laughed at me before they read the facts.)
The doctor gave his OK, and also asked the nurse to tell me to stay away from "strange" food from now on. :roll:
Anyway, I went home and got gradually better. Still not sure if my real weird state was due to poisoning.
What really scares me is what will happen in the hands of such doctor if a situation is more severe that needs immediate action, or if it is something else more life threatening. (not my first time to see Japanese doctors being clueless)

Well, it was interesting at least. Next time I will definitely over-boil my takenoko. And if I get my hands on sansai or things I don't know about I will thoroughly google it before attempting to poison myself. :geek:

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Eric in Japan
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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by Eric in Japan » Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:56 pm

Wow, that must have been scary!
Glad you are not dying from takenoko poisoning!

Next time you boil one, use nuka or baking soda in the water to help remove the bitterness.
And I would avoid eating a whole takenoko LOL.

Stay well, Takenoko-man!
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by Funasshi » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:00 pm

Eric in Japan wrote:Wow, that must have been scary!
Glad you are not dying from takenoko poisoning!

Next time you boil one, use nuka or baking soda in the water to help remove the bitterness.
And I would avoid eating a whole takenoko LOL.

Stay well, Takenoko-man!
Yeah, embarrasing. My partner is still laughing at me and calling me takenoko-man :oops:
Actually I thought toxins in takenonko would be common knowledge in a country like Japan.

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Eric in Japan
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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by Eric in Japan » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:22 pm

I must say, I have eaten takenoko raw, BBQd, and boiled, and never had any kind of reaction.
But I never ate the whole thing in one sitting either.
:)
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by gonbechan » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:50 pm

I am really sorry you had such a bad experience.
But I must admit, I laughed almost all the way through your story.

After I had finished reading, I suddenly had a vision of that doctor asking each and every future patient that came in with dizziness and nausea if they had eaten raw or under cooked takenoko recently and then going on to lecture them about the toxins in raw takenoko.

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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by Zasso Nouka » Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:33 pm

That is absolutely priceless man :lol: :lol: :lol:

Maybe we should have a username change ? :D

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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by paradoxbox » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:18 pm

Glad to hear you made it through that one! And glad you did not succumb to J-doctor-itis! Yikes.

I'm very glad you posted this so everyone now knows about the dangers of undercooked roots. There are a LOT of roots and seeds out there which are EXTREMELY poisonous, please double check everything - EVERYTHING on the internet before chow time. Seemingly innocuous plants and vegetables sometimes have ultra lethal poisons like cyanide, or digitoxin in them that can only be deactivated by cooking a certain way.

Example, if you ate around 100-200grams crushed apple seeds, that would likely contain enough cyanide to kill your severely injure you. Most fruits with pits inside them also contain cyanide inside the pits.

It's obviously too late now, but activated charcoal is something that should be in EVERY household first aid kit. Activated charcoal will absorb most kinds of poisons and reduce the damaging effects of the poison until you can get to a well equipped medical center.

Throwing up probably helped reduce a lot of the poisoning in your case. Cyanide poisons work by blocking oxygen to your cells so this is probably why your vision was going black (hypoxia). In this instance of poisoning, throwing up is perfectly safe to do (and probably the best choice). Some poisons have different treatment where induced vomiting is not recommended because it may cause damage on the way up, among other things.

One other way to reduce cyanide poison damage if you don't have the antidote handy is to drink something basic (ph basic)- like baking soda water. You want to reduce the acidity in your stomach as much as possible, since hydrogen cyanide is essentially an acid that changes to gas at a low temperature. Cyanide is metabolized by the body VERY quickly, but if your stomach acidity is low, it will reduce the amount of cyanide being absorbed by your cells.

I guess you can now claim to your friends you survived cyanide poisoning! Thanks for writing this up here :)

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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by BK How » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:29 pm

Interesting! What is takenoko in English anyway?

I got a similar experience many years ago after eating potatoes, probably because I missed some sprouts on the potatoes that were supposed to be removed. After about 30 mins I got those symptoms, I start to panic and thinking to drive straight to hospital, but before I grab my car key, I got diarrhea and after that everything got better.

Yeah I still alive.

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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by Funasshi » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:59 pm

gonbechan wrote:I suddenly had a vision of that doctor asking each and every future patient that came in with dizziness and nausea if they had eaten raw or under cooked takenoko recently and then going on to lecture them about the toxins in raw takenoko.
Haha, yepp, that sounds about right. Maybe he even made a bookmark on his iPad to the article he found. :clap:
Zasso Nouka wrote:Maybe we should have a username change ?
Not sure if that's a good idea though: it would mean I have to move somewhere that rhymes with takenoko. I still haven't found a good candidate. Yamanakako? :think: Naaaah
paradoxbox wrote:I'm very glad you posted this so everyone now knows about the dangers of undercooked roots. There are a LOT of roots and seeds out there which are EXTREMELY poisonous, please double check everything - EVERYTHING on the internet before chow time. Seemingly innocuous plants and vegetables sometimes have ultra lethal poisons like cyanide, or digitoxin in them that can only be deactivated by cooking a certain way.
Yeah, I know for example potato leaves are toxic. Anyway, I learned my lesson alright. EVERYTHING goes through google from now on. :geek:
BK How wrote:Interesting! What is takenoko in English anyway?
Takenoko is Bamboo shoots

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Re: Takenoko-man

Post by Zasso Nouka » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:07 am

It's that time of year again :happy-partydance:

Image

Time to head out into the forest and start digging up the bamboo shoots. Had takenoko gohan last night and it was lovely, first crop of the year and couldn't get fresher than that.

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