Spontaneously combusting sushi flakes blamed in mystery blazes in US

This undated image released by the St. Paul, Minnesota, field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) shows the charred remains of a sushi kitchen in Madison, Wisconsin. (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives handout via AFP)
Updated 17 July 2019

Spontaneously combusting sushi flakes blamed in mystery blazes in US

WASHINGTON: A series of freak fires at sushi restaurants in the United States have been blamed on an unusual culprit: a deep-fried ingredient that, if not handled properly, spontaneously combusts.
Firefighters in the city of Madison, Wisconsin say two fires at local Japanese restaurants earlier this year were caused by chefs deep frying flour to make a tempura-like coating called “crunch,” then leaving it to cool.
“Cooking oils, especially soybean oil and canola oil, are known to have a propensity to self-heat under certain circumstances,” the Midwestern city’s fire department said in a safety bulletin.
“Because the ‘crunch’ product is heated during the cooking process, then placed in a bowl or colander to cool and drain, the ability for the heat to dissipate is compromised. These conditions can create an environment for a fire to occur,” the bulletin continued.
The two fires in Madison caused at least $575,000 in damage, and investigators blame “crunch” for at least five other blazes that they’re aware of.
Seeking to forestall future infernos, the fire department recommended spreading the ingredient out on a flat surface like a baking sheet to keep it from catching fire.


Man eats $120,000 piece of art — a banana taped to wall

Updated 08 December 2019

Man eats $120,000 piece of art — a banana taped to wall

MIAMI: The move was bananas ... or maybe the work was just too appealing.
A performance artist shook up the crowd at the Art Basel show in Miami Beach on Saturday when he grabbed a banana that had been duct-taped to a gallery wall and ate it.
The banana was, in fact, a work of art by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan titled “Comedian” and sold to a French collector for $120,000.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, David Datuna, who describes himself as a Georgian-born American artist living in New York, walks up to the banana and pulls it off the wall with the duct tape attached.
“Art performance ... hungry artist,” he said, as he peeled the fruit and took a bite. “Thank you, very good.”
A few bystanders could be heard giggling before a flustered gallery official whisked him to an adjoining space for questioning.
But the kerfuffle was resolved without a food fight.
“He did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea,” Lucien Terras, director of museum relations for Galerie Perrotin, told the Miami Herald.
As it turns out, the value of the work is in the certificate of authenticity, the newspaper said. The banana is meant to be replaced.
A replacement banana was taped to the wall about 15 minutes after Datuna’s stunt.
“This has brought a lot of tension and attention to the booth and we’re not into spectacles,” Terras said. “But the response has been great. It brings a smile to a lot of people’s faces.”
Cattelan is perhaps best known for his 18-carat, fully functioning gold toilet called “America” that he had once offered on loan to US President Donald Trump.
The toilet, valued at around $5 to $6 million, was in the news again in September when it was stolen from Britain’s Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of wartime leader Winston Churchill, where it had been on display.