A Café to Die For

by M-Gillies

It looks good and tastes even better but puffer fish can be deadly if it's not prepared properly. This charitable organization in the UK is holding a Cafe de Mort and serving meals that could be deadly to raise awareness on the importance of leaving money in your will for your favorite charity.

Located in the crypt of a central London Church, for two nights only, one café will serve the most deadly delicacies known around the world as part of a campaign to encourage more people to leave a gift to a charity in their wills – after all, what can be more influential, than someone who could be about to eat their last meal.

Café De Mort is the quirky and potentially deadly new restaurant from television presenter and food expert Gregg Wallace, which will open its doors two nights only – February 26 and 27, 2013. And while the closely guarded secret six dangerous dishes being served are said to be potentially lethal if not prepared or cooked properly, it hasn’t swayed attendees from fully booking the cafe.

With charity supporters and members of the public with a sense of adventure set to travel from across the UK to wet their appetites for a killer cuisine, the Café De Mort is just the latest endeavour in stressing the importance of pre-planning end-of-the-life sendoffs – particularly in regards to ensuring a will is completed, but more so in leaving a gift for a charity.

“Few people realize that gifts in Wills are vital to many of our favorite charities,” said Wallace. “We need to get more people thinking about leaving a gift once they’ve looked after their family and friends. (And) Café De Mort is all about getting people to sit up and take notice – hopefully, they’ll still be sitting up by the time they get to their dessert.”

With The Rehearsal Orchestra supporting the campaign as part of its on-going work with Remember A Charity, a consortium of over 140 charities – their hope is that diners will be reminded of the unpredictability of life and the importance of taking care of friends, family and the causes they hold dear.

Though three quarters of Britons regularly donate to charity in their lifetimes, a mere 7% include a charity in their will – gifts, on which many charities rely heavily.

“Gifts in wills are hugely important to charities and many simply wouldn’t exist without them,” said Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity. “We believe Café De Mort will raise a wry smile but also get more people thinking about leaving a gift to a charity.”

While Café De Mort is clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek, its message is very much serious.

“Some people may think Café De Mort is a bit extreme, but it’s hard to get people thinking about wills and considering a gift to charity,” explained Cope. “So we needed to do something to get them to sit up and take notice.”

But while the campaign is based on a serious issue, the food being served is considered even more serious – particularly when it comes to preparations. As Wallace explained, “I’ve eaten all sorts of food in my time, but this is the first time I’ve actually had to put my life on the line! The menu is unlike anything I’ve ever tried. All the dishes are considered delicacies in one part of the world or another, but one slip in the kitchen could have deadly consequences. But I’m confident that our chefs won’t have any lethal lapses.”

Though the menu has been well guarded, here is a list of some the world’s potentially most deadly foods that could be served at the dinner.

Fugu Puffer Fish: Otherwise known as the blowfish – this expensive delicacy is found in Japan and while the fish and the dish, when properly prepared are perfectly safe to eat, if not properly prepared, the outcome is death – a risk which comes from the fact that Fugu contains a tetrodoxin that will cause muscles to freeze up and restrict breathing. The most important thing to remember also is there is no antidote.

Sannakji Choking Octopi: Known in Korea as the Sannakji wriggling octopus, this delicacy is a great treat for those who love seafood and can be picked up in local markets throughout Korea. However, these creatures are served while still moving and are known to attach their tentacles and suction cups around the necks of diners who try to devour them.

Cassava Root: Sure, this root is a vital part of the diet for millions of people worldwide and produces an extract known as tapioca. While commonly found in South America and perfect for getting a healthy dose of carbohydrates, the Cassava root is also a producer of cyanide, and if not properly cultivated and cooked, could otherwise cause some unwanted poisoning.

The Namibian Bullfrog: Frog legs have long been said to taste like chicken, but why settle for just the legs when you can have the entire frog. While a delicacy in the African nation, the Namibian bullfrog comes with some dire warnings, such as it shouldn’t be eaten a certain time of the year, or before it begins croaking to avoid the fatal kidney failure its poisons would present. But for those of the more daring nature, premature consumption of the frogs can be accomplished by lining the cooking pots with dry wood, which is said to neutralize the poison.

Ackee: Considered a mixed blessing in Jamaica, the Ackee fruit is considered rich in vitamins and protein, but if eaten before it is fully ripe, it can prevent glucose from being released from the liver, further lowering the blood sugar and ensuring a violent illness which many have called the Jamaican Vomiting Sickness.

Blood Clams: Once you get past the name, and even the appearance, blood clams are said to have a deliciously crisp succulence, similar to geoduck. Commonly found in Shanghai, blood clams are considered one of the more delicious Chinese delicacies and get their name due to a high level of hemogoblin. But the risks come in the preparation, which involves them being quick-boiled, leaving many viruses and bacteria still present.

Casu Marzu: Outlawed throughout much of Italy, this dish is far from appetizing and has been banned by the EU because of the health risks associated with it. The name itself, translates to rotten cheese, and while there are many types of moldy cheese enjoyed around the world, this is the only one which contains thousands of live maggots. The process of making Casu Marzu is done by deliberately leaving the cheese (made from sheep’s milk) outside to ferment. What happens is flies lay their eggs inside, while maggots soften the cheese and are in turn served along with the cheese. The risks? With the maggots still alive, this can cause allergic reactions but also intestinal larval infection, which could lead to horrendous stomach pains, vomiting and death.

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