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 IV: Be forever Food on February 29th, 2012

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

6 have spoken to “Do you remember Food? Part II”

  1. Euchre writes:

    ok I’m actually curious here…

    When taste testing, do you take small nibbles, take what could be considered an average bite, or just go for broke and inhale the whole sample piece? From how you described the mint cake the last one would have been hilarious to watch (sorry bud, you know me :P)

    You know, come to think of it, I’ve never seen you eat potato chips. We’ll have to rectify that, soon.

  2. veach writes:

    Uberiffic speed-strolling crikey Catman! You go from no posts since mid-Sun’s Dusk, absolutely nothing the entirety of Evening Star, a single in Morning Star, and now you’re approaching (in a relatively bad metaphor kind of way) prolificality. Three posts in three weeks! Did you sufficiently warm up? Stretch? You must have some atrophy…so please be careful.

  3. Michael Ramirez writes:

    Okonomiyaki chips?! I am lucky enough to have a restaurant here that serves okonomiyaki- AND ITS DELICIOUS. It’s actually right in the food court on campus, so I get it all the time. I got quite a giggle out of the listing of “flavour” as an ingredient… sounds like it could possibly be a term for MSG. There’s an outdated, nice-sounding term for MSG that was used in India and it essentially means “essence of flavor”.

  4. Davecat writes:

    When I test taste, I just eat it as if I were eating real food. Which is probably not the way to properly do these sorts of things when writing about food and its flavours, but I’m no foodie. Although I have to add, most of the KMC is still in the fridge! I can’t see eating that much in one go! Sugar, in brick form!

    And I eat chips all the time! You never see me cos I’m just that fast. 😉

    veach —
    I know, right? In all fairness, though, most of the posts in this series were written in December/January, plus I knew February was our shortest month, so it all worked out!
    I’m trying to get the band back together!! Well, in a writing for ‘Shouting etc etc’ context. No, the analogy doesn’t really hold up.

    Michael Ramirez —
    A restaurant that serves okonomiyaki on campus? Congratulations! You’re well on the way to becoming a career student! 🙂

    And ‘essence of flavour’? The taste of flavour? The idea of flavour? Flavour, as it is recognised as a concept or ideal?? Flava Flav??

  5. bbbjjjttt writes:

    Two more charming photos of the Missus! Well, now that I am aware of okonomiyaki, I MUST find and devour some. The mint cake sounds a bit too….minty (never one of my favorite flavors).

    Flava Flav? *runs away screaming*

  6. Davecat writes:

    Apparently proper okonomiyaki is partially constructed of cabbage. I… I can’t abide that. Unless, of course, the taste of the toppings and sauces completely overpower the cabbage, in which case, gimme. Especially if this bloke makes it!

    And you don’t like mint?? You and Euchre should hang out more often, you godforsaken mint-hating Commies.

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