I've traveled to other parts of the world where eels are still embraced as enthusiastically as they once were here. In southern Sweden, on a crescent-shaped segment of the Baltic Sea coastline known as the Ålakust, or eel coast, I visited fishing huts where fishermen host alagillen, or eel parties, in autumn. They grilled their big Baltic eel over wood until its skin crackled, smoked it and dressed it with lemon to counterbalance the meat's richness, and served it up in at least a dozen other delectable ways. In the Basque region of France, I had translucent baby eels that were plunged in hot water, sauteed in olive oil and garlic, then served scalding hot with a wooden fork, so as not to burn the tongue; they had the texture of angel hair pasta and a flavor both sweet and umami, with a hint of the sea. In Japan, where eel meat is considered a cure for natsubate, or the fatigue brought on by summer weather, I went to eel-only restaurants specializing in a preparation called kabayaki, in which an eel is cleaned, halved, and skewered with its skin on, soaked in water, then laid over a hot wood fire to steam. (Eel is never served raw because its blood contains a toxin that must be cooked in order to be neutralized.) Once the full-flavored, succulent meat is cooked, the chef glazes it with a sweet sauce of soy, mirin, and sugar, and sprinkles it with sansho, a relative of Sichuan pepper.