So I made it a point to try whale for the first time this trip to Japan. So when my friends took me to my now annual trip to the Tsukiji area for a nice meal I took this opportunity.
More pix and my thoughts after the jump...
Tasted like Maguro but way more meaty. It felt equally distant in taste as duck is from chicken, and is definitely an acquired taste.
Tasted a lot like a cross between Prosciutto and Salami. Had that kind of meaty-ness to it. It tasted really good actually.
Whale Bacon and Whale Sashimi both 945 Yen on the menu. Not only that it also had sharkfin Chawanmushi. I should've tried that too. I'll save that for my next trip.
The eatery had a lot of pictures up like these, where fishermen are bringing up whale. I'm uncertain of what type of whale they are or if they're even endangered, but if they were would they be flaunting it?
Below is my TLDR spiel on the controversy.
Most Japanese don't eat whale (whale wars), and even less eat dolphin (following the controversy with dolphins in the documentary "The Cove") Some people do though, and it's often the West's (Australia, New Zealand, and England) position to renounce these activities. I also saw the South Park Episode poking fun at the differences was pretty funny. You can read up on the gist of the controversy here. There was also a controversy here in Washington State where I live a decade back when the Macah Natives went on their whale hunt. Back then when it was all a big stir I thought the media should just leave them alone and let them be.
Who respects whales and dolphins more, groups who eat them or groups that see them as entertainment at Sea World or Eco Tourism? My argument would be both respect them in different ways.
If your culture is partially defined by the food you eat would it be in your best interest to make sure that that food continues to reproduce? The Japanese eat 5 times as much fish as the US does. Most Japanese come in contact with seafood for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while most Americans would experience seafood in an Aquarium. (you get the point don't take me literally) Coming from the Pacific Northwest you see motifs of Salmon all over the place from Native cultures. Salmon is big here, and I'd argue that the Natives are the loudest advocates for the clean rivers and Salmon habitats than anybody here. But this value has permeated to us non Natives in the region as well.
If your culture has had a weak relationship with all seafood in general but has a stronger tie with these animals in say movies and entertainment it is also in your interest to keep these animals around. Eco Tourism is growing and more people will give your industries money to see these animals. People pay good money to see Dolphins and Killer Whales jump through hoops and do tricks live at SeaWorld and on movies such as Free Willy and shows like Flipper.
I should also make it a point to address that people also have a thing against animal cruelty, whether its the method of draining blood out of cows to make Kosher Beef, the raising of chickens in cages, or the mass slaughter of dolphins in a cove. I've worked in a cannery and I've slaughtered thousands of salmon on the slime line but I bet I would cringe if I saw live a slaughtering of a cow.
In regards to whales and dolphin consuming to be a cultural necessity, I don't need to eat whale or dolphin to feel Japanese, nor do I have to own a gun to feel American. Some people in both camps feel like it's their cultural right to eat whales and dolphins as it is to bear arms. I can understand that feeling. I've eaten whale, I've gone to shooting ranges, but I'm not going to go fish for a whale or dolphin, nor will I stock an armory of weapons.
To each his/her own. I say all people with these strong opposing opinions should just hug it out.
Now if I was told I can't eat any more Blue fun Tuna, all bets are off.