Do you remember Food? Part IV: Be forever Food

typed for your pleasure on 29 February 2012, at 4.40 am

Sdtrk: ‘Europa endlos’ by Kraftwerk

The title’s a bit of a giveaway: this would be the final entry in this series, where over the course of three posts, I reviewed the contents of the fantastic birthday prezzie care package that my Twitterfriend Jill Tilley shipped to me, from her palatial estates in Canada. On the whole, it’s been good snackin’! What we’re then left with is the best snackin’.
Please take a moment now to gird your loins, if they haven’t already been girded.

Let’s begin with Good Good Eat, manufactured by the Taiwanese company WeiLih. No, I’m not having a stroke; that’s what the snack’s actually called. In doing research on Good Good Eat (hereafter referred to as GGE), it occurred to me that I know virtually nothing about Taiwan. For starters, would you believe it’s an island? People live there! They don’t speak Taiwanese, they speak Mandarin Chinese! Taiwan was founded by Barbarella back in 1979, and the island is apparently a collection of detritus that floated through space and settled on Earth when Mondas, the tenth planet in our solar system, exploded! These are facts.
The mascot for GGE would be a wee girl with the name of 張君雅小妹妹; SYSTRAN parses that as ‘Zhang Jun elegant youngest sister’. Which is obviously being arch and wry if the translation is anything close to the truth, as she’s a little girl with a big head and a mop of unruly hair. She’s all over the snack’s website; you can’t miss her. Apparently she’s popular enough to warrant models of her, but then they’ll make a model of anything in Asia if there’s a market for it, really.

As you can see in the above photo, GGE bear a passing resemblance to kibble. But holy crap they’re delicious. Despite the fact that they’re touted as ‘wheat crackers’ on the bag, what they actually are are little hockey pucks of dried ramen — personally, I think they’re closer to soba, but I’m probably wrong — with extra nori (seaweed) flavouring. They’re surprisingly spicier than I thought they’d be, especially when you reach the bottom of the bag, but they’re entirely yummy. Once I tried the bag that Jill gave me, I was rationing the contents, as I figured it’d be my first and last bag. To my surprise, however, I discovered there’s an Asian grocery half a mile away from our flat that carries them, so they’ll be seeing a lot more of me in the near-future. I’d even go on record as saying they’re better than the okonomiyaki chips I’d consumed in Part II, and the fact that they’re wheat-based presents the illusion of eating something negligibly healthier than potato chips. Full points for a savoury placebo effect!

Despite my being conditioned by media association, Fry’s, although a British institution, does not actually have anything to do with champion of linguistics and international globetrotter Stephen Fry. You gotta admit, it’d certainly be convenient if it did! Much like Wilson’s, the makers of Kendal Mint Cake from Part II, Fry’s is an English confectionery company, having created one of the first chocolate bars ever back in 1866. Decades of changeovers occurred, as they do, and now Fry’s is part of the Cadbury multinational sweets conglomerate, and from what I’d recently read, as of last year, Cadbury is now part of Kraft Foods. Incidentally, Kraft Foods does not actually have anything to do with Kraftwerk, thereby neatly referencing this post’s soundtrack.
As much as I love chocolate, and as much of an Anglophile as I am, I haven’t really had the opportunity to sample all the famous brands of sweets that the UK has on offer. I’ve had Wispa, and that only cos they sold it in the States for a very brief period back in the late Eighties, but that’s about it. ‘A man truly discovers the width and breadth of a country’s populace through their chocolates’, as Sir Francis Drake famously commented to Twiggy. Once again: facts.

I will share this, though: Fry’s Peppermint Cream manages to delectably combine three of my favourite sweets, which would be dark chocolate, mint, and fondant. It’s like if someone were to crossbreed a York Peppermint Patty with a Cadbury creme egg. The chocolate taste lies somewhere between milk chocolate and dark, and it possesses that crisp rigidity that you get when you keep chocolate in the refrigerator. What, no-one else does that? How do you keep your chocolate from melting?? But take a chocolate bar that isn’t too sweet and isn’t too bitter, hollow it out, and fill it with fondant, which is the hoity-toity name for the ‘creme’ you find in the aforementioned creme eggs. Or as I like to call ’em, concentrated sugar bombs. With Fry’s, however, the fondant is more semi-solid, so it’s not as if you bite into it and you’ve got fondant streaming all over your chin and shirt front. Again, that might be cos I’d kept it in the fridge.
Although it could be argued that it’s simply a Three Musketeers Mint bar, only with a fondant filling, I might have to award Fry’s Peppermint Cream as probably the best chocolate bar I’ve ever tasted, surpassing the KitKat Chunky, the previously-mentioned Three Musketeers Mint, and the Mint Aero, as it combines so many things I like in a chocolate bar. Were Fry’s/Cadbury/Kraft to send me a number of boxes of their mouthwatering product, I’d be more than willing to publically endorse them! Hint hint!

Overall: the grab-’em-by-the-handful nature of Good Good Eat is practically an excuse to buy several bags, dump them into a bowl, and go completely mental, and as for Fry’s Peppermint Cream… where have you been all my life?? Probably in the candy aisles of markets across the UK; that’d only make sense.

And that’s the lot! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this voyage through comestibles as much as I have consuming the comestibles. Again, many thanks to the amazing Jill Tilley, for sending me everything in the first place, and to Sidore-chan, for being my always-lovely food model. If there’s a lesson to be learned from this series, it’s this: food is meant to be eaten, so try putting some food in your mouth today™!
Also, store your chocolate in the fridge. Try it, it’ll last longer. Fact

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Do you remember Food? Part II on February 15th, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part III on February 22nd, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part III

typed for your pleasure on 22 February 2012, at 1.37 am

Sdtrk: ‘Memory seventy nine’ by The caretaker

Coming into the cinema late? Well congratulations, not only have you missed the previews, but also the first fifteen minutes of the film. Why not catch yourself up, lazy?

This, then, would be the Hello Kitty installment of the series, so, ah, I hope you like Hello Kitty. On the left is Hello Kitty nodo ame, and the long box on the right contains Hello Kitty Pretzel. Both are by Kabaya, who, as you’ll recall, are also the makers of Jyu-C Cider, detailed two posts ago. Maybe I should’ve subtitled this post Hello Kabaya.

As I’ve never encountered the term ‘nodo ame’ before, I had to look it up. The nearest equivalent in English to it would be ‘throat drops’; I know ame is rain, at the very least. So much in the manner of those graphics you see on cough drop adverts that focus on a red and painful sore throat, nodo ame would be the lozenge that showers it with wavy blue lines, bringing blessed relief. From what it seems, though, nodo ame doesn’t just describe medicinal candies; it also appears to describe a certain lozengy type of hard candy, which is about as nebulous and nonspecific as you’d think it is. ‘I’m going to prescribe something for you,’ says your doctor, after he confirms that you have a sore throat. ‘It’s nodo ame. It doesn’t contain any medicine in it at all, but it’s a lot like throat drops. So, ah, I hope you like Hello Kitty.’ He dumps a fistful of loose, semi-translucent heart-shaped candies in your hand and nods affirmatively. ‘That’ll be $175. Please pay the receptionist.’

The Hello Kitty nodo ame are indeed semi-translucent heart-shaped sweets, in four flavours: red for apple, purple for grape, lemon is yellow, and green for muscat, which I’m told is a melon. Now when I hear the word ‘muscat’, I think of Angelo Muscat, better known as the Butler in the ahead-of-its-time telly series, The Prisoner, but that’s me. I may not know my fruits and vegetables, but you can be damned sure I’m on top of my Sixties-era surrealist science fiction British television shows!
The nodo ame taste pretty much as you’d expect them to, so no surprises there.

One of Japan’s most famous snack exports would be Pocky, the biscuit stick coated in chocolate, which is now pretty much an internationally-known food. Glico, the company that manufactures Pocky, also makes Pretz, a snack that, as you’d probably sussed due to the name, is a flavoured pretzel in stick form. As Glico most famously staked their claim to stick-shaped pretzel snacks, everyone else that makes snacks of that kind is considered second best or also-rans, which leaves us with Kabaya’s Hello Kitty Pretzel. Now I’m no pretzel stick connoisseur — I’ve never had Pretz, and I can count the number of boxes of Pocky I’ve eaten in my life on one hand — but I’d wager that the only thing that is preventing Kabaya’s take on boxed pretzels from sliding headlong into obscurity is the Hello Kitty branding. I imagine the employees at the pretzel snack division of Kabaya begin each workday with a Two Minutes Hate session, where everyone is encouraged to scream their rage and shake their fists at a picture of the Glico running man mascot.

Can you describe the pretzel sticks in a paragraph or less, please? you ask. Sure! Inside the box, you get +/- fifteen pretzel sticks covered in a pink frosting. As I’m not really keen on strawberry, they didn’t do anything for me, but they taste pretty much how you’d expect them to. See, wasn’t that easy?

Overall: in all honesty, these two were lowest on the list of the birthday care package prezzie that Jill sent me. (Sorry, Jill.) They just didn’t excite me on any genuine level, and I don’t think I’d ever purchase either of them of my own accord. However, as this post covers the worst, that means the best selections get lauded in the final installment. What made the cut? Which snacks are preferred? Whose cuisine will reign supreme??

NEXT UP: the End of All Food

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Do you remember Food? Part II on February 15th, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part I on February 8th, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part II

typed for your pleasure on 15 February 2012, at 1.51 am

Sdtrk: ‘Ceremony (Original version)’ by New order

What in the living hell is ‘Do you remember Food?’, you enquire? Read this post, enlighten thyself, etc etc.

For this entry, we have two snacks that, while I can’t say they’re my favourites of the birthday package, are pretty damned close. From Japan, we have okonomiyaki-flavoured potato chips by Calbee, and from Engerland comes Wilson’s White Kendal Mint Cake.

Okonomiyaki, if you’re not familiar with it, is a Japanese dish: it’s best described as pancake-like, and loaded with an assortment of toppings. It’s not a meal in and of itself — although they can get rather big — but it’s a food staple over there. Various regions have their own specialty takes on the okonomiyaki: you can get them with such toppings as meat, or cheese, or squid, or octopus, or even ramen, soba, or udon noodles. The list doesn’t stop there, of course, but you see what I’m getting at.
Sadly, I have yet to find a local establishment that serves okonomiyaki; the nearest place that I know of would be the food court at Mitsuwa, the Japanese shopping mall in Arlington heights, Illinois, that my friends and I usually try to visit once a year. So why not recreate the great taste of okonomiyaki in potato chip form? Why not, indeed??

Admittedly, those chips didn’t last long. 1) I love potato chips, for better or for worse, 2) the 55g bag was half-empty to begin with — ‘packaged by weight not volume’, that sort of thing, and 3) it’s the closest I’m going to get to tasting okonomiyaki until I get round to Mitsuwa’s aforementioned food court. But I will say this — those chips were good. The outstanding flavour I recall was that of catsup, even though neither catsup nor tomato anything are listed in the ingredients. Hilariously enough, one of the ingredients that is listed is ‘Flavour’. Just ‘Flavour’. Well, that’s certainly what you want in a food! There was a wee bit of lingering spice, too; not a lot, but noticeable. Maybe it was the Flavour Enhancer that’s also listed as being in them (we call that MSG).

Where does one begin with Kendal mint cake? Seeing the packaging for the first time, I thought the confectionery company was called Kendal, making this their mint cake. Au contraire! Kendal, a town located in weird old Cumbria, England*, is where the idea first came about, and apart from Wilson’s, Kendal mint cake (hereby shortened to KMC) is manufactured by a couple of other centuries-old companies, such as Romney’s, and Quiggin’s. No word as yet if Boggis, Bunce, and Bean will be entering the market with their own version. But much like okonomiyaki, the multiple companies offer their own takes on KMC. Buttermint candy, Rum and butter, and one ominously referred to as ‘brown’. That’s, ah… nice and vague.
The event that really put KMC into the British Sweets Pantheon would be the fact that Sir Edmund Hillary and his expedition brought bars with them on their first successful climb of Mt Everest, back in 1953. Upon sampling some, I can see how it helped them, as KMC is like 900% glucose. Doubtless Hillary and his lads sprinted up to the summit in under an hour.

The taste is best described as ‘very bright’. Picture a York peppermint patty without the chocolate, and with the mint volume cranked up to eleven. Even with my sweet tooth — I only have one, incidentally; the rest are normal teeth — there’s only so much of that I can handle in one sitting. Personally I can’t just eat a KMC as if it were a 3 Musketeers bar; I have to kinda nibble on it, like a squirrel, cos it’s just that intense. It is, as they say, a ‘sometimes food’.
The consistency is interesting, too. You ever see translucent stone? KMC looks a lot like this, to be honest, if you were to increase it to six times its original size, illuminate it from within, and, y’know, turn it into a sink. It’s slightly sticky as well, but I think that’s due to the peppermint oil they use to make it. As stated, it’s a high energy food, and to be honest, I did start to type this out faster after gnawing on a corner of Kendal mint cake. Perhaps I’ll bring some to work, and run the fifteen miles back home when I’m finished!

Overall: the okonomiyaki chips were delish, but starting off with the bag being half-empty is a bit grim. Once I become Sovereign King of Earth, one of my first edicts will be for potato chip manufacturers to fill the bag, let it settle a bit, then fill it almost to the top. Cos, I mean, seriously. And the Kendal mint cake isn’t bad at all, but it’s definitely something I wouldn’t be eating once a week; once every other month, maybe. Too much sugar in one go would have me seeing through the fabric of Time Itself. Wait, I’m saying that like it’s a bad thing! LOOK OUT LINCOLN, HE’S GOT A GUN

NEXT UP: more of the same!

*What makes Cumbria weird? Well, it’s the birthplace of Yan and Hamilton of the legendary British sea power, so there you are. Honestly, Cumbria should be proud

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Do you remember Food? Part III on February 22nd, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part IV: Be forever Food on February 29th, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part I

typed for your pleasure on 8 February 2012, at 1.36 am

Sdtrk: ‘Thumbquake and Earthscrew’ by A to Austr

If you’re just joining us, have a look at ‘Do you remember Food? Prelude‘, then come back here. I’ll wait. I’ll wait as long as I have to. I know you’ll be back.

The first two selections I’m sampling would be Petite Potato Usu-shio by a company called Bourbon, and Jyu-C Cider, by Kabaya.

Jyu-C — or, if you like, Juicy, which is what they were probably aiming for — is one of those lipstick tubes of lozenge candy. They come in several different flavours, such as Grape, Orange, something called White Soda (they do love their opaque white beverages over there), and Cider, which is what I’d received.

They’re not bad, all told, although they have this weird mix of lemon taste combined with, ah, dairy? They kinda remind me of a more zippier-tasting Lactaid, to be honest. And much like Lactaid, they have an insidious chalky aftertaste. It’s not overpowering, but I say insidious because it takes almost two to three minutes after you’ve ground it up and swallowed it for it to appear. You’re too busy concentrating on the tartness in yo mouf, when you think to yourself, ‘have I perhaps eaten chalk by mistake?’ I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t like Jyu-C Cider, cos it isn’t completely appalling, but I think Jyu-C Grape would be more my speed.
I do like the robo-hippo mascot they have for the Cider flavour; unsurprisingly, his name would be Kaba-Robo (Hippo-Robo). He likes techno, as all robots naturally do.

As long as I’ve been a (mostly) unrepentant Japanophile, I’ve discovered that that nation seems to have a fascination with tiny snacks. My first encounter was years ago, with the 5/8 Chips from S&B. They were potato chips that came in boxes roughly the size of your average paperback, and were so named due to the fact they were five-eighths the size of a regular chip. True, it’s a very twee concept, but it doesn’t take long for you to realise you’re getting screwed with the size and proportions. I mean, good lord. Personally speaking, I can go through a 9oz bag of chips in two days, and I’m fairly certain there are larger tossers than myself that can annihilate one of those Super size bags in less time. So a sleeve of Petite Potato chips lasted me, what, an hour? It’s all in the pacing.

There’s a tray that’s in that sleeve, which protects the chips, but is a bit wasteful. Plus, it’s not as if the sleeve is a sturdy cast iron one or anything. I bet if I really wanted to, I could crush those chips, flimsy tray notwithstanding. Upon eating them, they reminded me immediately of Pringles, and the way they taste. Y’know, that ‘like chips, yet not chips’ flavour. They’re lightly salted, so to me, they were a little flat. Curiously enough, upon perusing the ingredients, one of them midway through the list caught my eye: scallop extract powder. Not that I’m averse to seafood, but… huh.

If you hit the website for Bourbon linked above, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn that godforsaken music off. Seriously, after a minute, it’ll drive you into a homicidal frenzy. But they have a variety of different micronised snacks, such as chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, nori wafers, ebi (shrimp), some sort of biscuit, and some sort of cheese thing, amongst many others. The chips Jill sent me were regular flavour (‘tastes just like Regularity’), but the nori and ebi variants appeal to me. But I’d almost have to buy like five or six sleeves to satiate my salty hunger, and that’s only if they tasted appealing. More experiments need to take place!

Overall: Jyu-C isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy a tube — unless it was Grape, and if it were reasonably priced — and the Petite Potato chips are mildly filling, but in a very blink-and-they’re-gone aspect.

NEXT UP: words describing the food I done et

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Do you remember Food? Prelude on February 1st, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part II on February 15th, 2012

Do you remember Food? Prelude

typed for your pleasure on 1 February 2012, at 1.31 am

Sdtrk: ‘If not by fire’ by Mandy More

And now for something completely different: For my birthday this past November, Jill Tilley, one of my Twitterfriends, posted me a box of candy and snacks that she thinks I’d dig, after scouring this very blog for food ideas. It was a much-appreciated cornucopia of foodstuffs from Japan and England, via the shops in her particular part of Canada.


So I thought to myself, as a bit of a break from all those Gynoid and Doll bOObs, why not write a wee review of each item when I eat it? That way, future generations will have deep and considerable insight as to what the human race ate, before the robots took over and crammed our brains into metal shells to extend the longevity of the species. Hence the title of this miniseries: Do you remember Food?

Not counting the Ruffles All-dressed and the mint Aero bar, I’ll do four posts one week at a time, covering two snacks/candies each. As much as I love Ruffles All-dressed and mint Aero bars, I can get those if I make a forty minute run to the Canadian border, so they’re not as rare. Not to mention those were the first to go. Plus, my lovely Synthetik wife Sidore Kuroneko will be displaying the selections, so there’s your added incentive. Get ready for starch-o-choco-excitement! *superfluous engine revving sounds*

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Do you remember Food? Part II on February 15th, 2012

Do you remember Food? Part IV: Be forever Food on February 29th, 2012