The July 24 editorial “The danger zone for eels” reminds me that nowadays a lot of Japanese are making a great effort to find a substitute for eels, which have become expensive and beyond the reach of common citizens. According to a TV report, conger, catfish, pork or eggplant is used as a substitute for grilled eels. Cooks take pains to make these substitutes look and taste like traditional eel.

Why are Japanese obsessed with eating this peculiar fish in August? A lot of people believe that eating it helps to assuage the scorching heat. Doing so has become part of Japanese culture.

In view of the skyrocketing price, it is easy to surmise that the size of eel hauls is in decline. If the Japanese wish to keep eating this fish quietly, they have to be careful about conserving them. That’s where I have some disagreement with the editorial. I believe that most Japanese people do sense that eels should be a luxury food and, therefore, do not eat them as frequently as they might.

For better or worse, eels on plastic trays or in plastic packages are very different from traditional ones.

shuichi john watanabe

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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