The Inky Depths #7: Eels Give Me The Feels
November 21, 2022 9:00 AM   Subscribe

This great post reminded me of a buoy that's been bobbing around - gulper eel, ribbon eel, electric eel - there are so many eels on the Inky Depths posting list, so LET'S TALK ABOUT EELS TOGETHER, it's about time, am I right?! (okay, Inky Depths #4 was about the Slender Snipe Eel. But there is so. much. more. to. talk. about.) Well I'll be hornswaggled, let's dive in! (more inside)

(to the Tune of War, What is it Good For?):
EELS! How do you FEEL now! Absolutely TEAL! (Is there a teal eel? YES! (the wolf-eel - "Wolf-eels look more or less normal-sized down to their necks, and then their bodies just keep going...)

Eels have long seemed mysterious, and for real, Where do eels come from?

Aristotle believed they spawned from the mud. Other philosophers posited the possibility of spontaneous generation. One noteworthy thinker theorized that they were born when an adult eel scraped along rocks on the seafloor. The flakes of eel skin would then morph into adolescent eels. So, yeah, no real satisfactory theories were out there.

One young researcher went so far as to spend 10 hours a day dissecting the strange fish in an effort to find something that pointed to the reproduction. Day in and day out he would travel to the local pier and purchase all the eels available. He spent so much time with the nasty creatures that he seemed to start to hallucinate and see them everywhere. This man was a young Sigmund Freud.

You know? They really are simply a blast: Here are 5 reasons why they’re such cool little freaks

But are they hurty? Oh my, can they be hurty! Check out An account of being bitten by a moray eel (no graphic pictures, man is fine; his neck, a bit altered). Or, if you want some shocking photos, check out this diver's injuries from a conger eel instead!

Of course, those are the teeth - but what about electric eels? If you're brave, maybe you would be shocked by an eel for science?

Do we eat them? omg yes

unagi in various ways
British food history of eel pie
From A British King To Rock 'N' Roll: The Slippery History Of Eel Pie Island (Also, on Metafilter previously)
Inside London's Disappearing Eel Shops
jellied eels
Italian preserved eel
Italian fried or grilled

Is eating raw eel dangerous? Answer: maybe.

Eels have extraordinary defense mechanisms to keep them from being preyed upon, but these can also affect humans when not fully cooked...eels have poisonous blood that contains a toxic protein that makes muscles (like the heart) cramp, which is why raw eel should never be eaten under any circumstance. However, when eel is cooked these proteins break down and make the fish safe to eat. And of course, they also often have high levels of mercury, like a lot of seafood.

Is eating any eel dangerous? Well, don't ask the king: Death By Eels: Murderous Gluttony and Stone-Cold Murder, in which in which it's possible King Henry I died after eating a plate of forbidden eels.

Maybe you'd prefer getting into What does a stick of eels get you? There are very few handy charts telling us how much a stick of eels is worth, and it is difficult assessing this type of question from monastery records. Part of the problem comes from the fact that there are often several centuries between records of payment types, meaning that it can be difficult to make assessments of eel equity when rents shifted to currency. This is further complicated by the fact that eels had a specific value to monks that went beyond their more general market worth: since they were not considered flesh, they could be eaten during Lent and during other Church celebratory days that banned meat.

In addition! Seals sometimes snort eels, perhaps by accident. But on the other hand, eels do get high on cocaine, if you give them some. It's a real problem, threatening European eels.

But if you, the human, partied hard last night, perhaps swimming and drinking in cocaine-infested waterways, Raw Eels May Kill Your Hangover. And the Rest of You, Too.

And for a last little bit of joy in your life in the form of eels, please check out Eel Pit Day Will Go Down In TikTok History, And Eel Pit Guy Told Us He Was As Amped About It As We Were: “My favorite eels are named Bathtub and Crunchwrap Supreme.”

And geez, who doesn't want to pet a cutie like that?!

Eel calls to action!

Metafilter: Japanese aquarium urges public to video-chat eels who are forgetting people exist during lockdown

Giving Endangered American Eels a Hand


Previously (I omitted links to old MeFi posts where the links no longer exist or were adjacent links to things posted here, otherwise, there would be many more - MeFi loves eels!):

Miguel Wattson, an electric eel that lives at the Tennessee Aquarium, is a multitasker. He eats. He tweets. And for his most effortless trick this season, he lights up a Christmas tree.
Generating an electrifying conversation: how did the eels evolve this power? It didn't start as a weapon: the electric eel's knifefish ancestors, like its modern cousins, used weak electric pulses to talk to one another just as we use weak pulses of pressure to create sounds
Because of her, we can: celebrating Australian indigenous women, including Connie Hart, who saved eel-trap weaving knowledge
What does an electric eel tweet about? Mostly puns.
Do not go slippery into that good night: World's oldest eel dies at 155
Slip Sliding Away (The Englishman and the eel)
The robot with the mind of an eel (I found the link here instead)
Alligator bites electric eel
When a fish makes you shout and freak the fuck out, that's a moray.
Eel slap.

Previously in Inky Depths:
The Inky Depths #6: Potato Grouper
The Inky Depths #5: Fish That Walk!
The Inky Depths #4: Slender Snipe Eel (Deep Sea Duck)
The Inky Depths #3: Pink See-Through Fantasia (Headless Chicken Monster)
The Inky Depths #2: Wobbegong (Carpet Shark)
The Inky Depths #1: The Whalefish
posted by tiny frying pan (16 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
(If you have a slippery thought of a creature you'd like featured on the next Inky Depths, please give me a MeMail!)
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:01 AM on November 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

and now I crave Unagi Nigiri - yum
posted by djseafood at 9:34 AM on November 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

What a joy!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 9:35 AM on November 21, 2022

You've won the eel-ection!
posted by The otter lady at 10:54 AM on November 21, 2022 [4 favorites]

O. Nash had them keenly pegged:

I don’t mind eels
except as meals
and the way they feels.

(Also: P. Svensson’s Book of Eels.)
posted by progosk at 11:58 AM on November 21, 2022

Fried fjord eel is very fatty, to the point of being a bit nauseating to me, but smoked fjord eel is heavenly.
posted by Dysk at 12:09 PM on November 21, 2022

(Cooked) daggertooth pike conger eels are delicious and have a satisfying texture.
posted by porpoise at 12:29 PM on November 21, 2022

When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid from a Clamp, That's a Moray -- posted by supermedusa
I saw what you did there.
posted by TrishaU at 1:31 PM on November 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

My six year old who loves eels would be quick to point out that neither electric eels nor wolf eels are true eels. Instead, they're what she insists on calling "eel imposters."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2022 [5 favorites]

Bulgaroktonos in our household the format is "fool's eels".
posted by away for regrooving at 2:20 PM on November 21, 2022 [8 favorites]

We accept all eels here!
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:57 PM on November 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

seriously I am going to be the most blathering excited fountain of eel information this holiday season. Thank you so much for so much!
posted by winesong at 3:12 PM on November 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

Supplementary reading, Waterland by Graham Swift.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:13 PM on November 21, 2022

You just taught me why unagi is always cooked at sushi places. Also that the “Henry my boy” song with the green and yeller eels and snakes has it backwards, as far as which ones you’d be better off eating all day in the woods.
posted by atoxyl at 10:10 PM on November 21, 2022

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