Monthly Archives: June 2012
In some cultures, the name of a drink describes what it tastes like. For example, this would apply to “cranberry juice,” which is mostly water and sugar with some cranberry-colored flavoring added. In other cultures, the name of a drink describes what’s actually in it. This is the case with Fruit4u Grape Drink with Grape Pulp. Even without those last three words, the mere fact that it’s called “Grape Drink” should indicate that this beverage is going to contain a few surprises.
This pint-sized can (actually 238 milliliters) promises to contain grape pulp in addition to grape drink, and it delivers on that promise. But what exactly is grape pulp? I imagined that it might be a few shredded bits of grape, much like the pulp that is present in some types of orange juice. As it turns out, I imagined wrong.
The makers of Fruit4u Grape Drink with Grape Pulp took a much simpler approach to fulfilling their fruity pledge: they simply plopped peeled grapes into the beverage, sealed up the can, and wrote “fruits for you!” on the side. The texture wasn’t nearly as troubling as it might seem, though suddenly swallowing a peeled grape can be a decidedly disconcerting experience the first time it happens. What this drink lacks in humor it makes up for in flavor, with a clean and natural grape taste. This should come as no surprise, considering that there are real grapes floating in there. In case you’re still confused, simply consult the following summary haiku:
Grape Drink with Grape Pulp:
It’s full of slippery grapes.
What did you expect?
Here’s a treat from I-MEI Foods Co., Ltd. Much like China’s recent effort to produce an exact replica of the Austrian village of Halstatt, these IMEI French Cookies are a Taiwanese plan to bring a piece of Paris to the families of Formosa.
As you can see, the package depicts the Eiffel Tower, which is perhaps the most well-known symbol of France. This is no big surprise, since these claim to be French Cookies. What’s more unexpected is the fact that the Eiffel Tower appears to be served on an enormous bed of fried rice. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I personally prefer to pair towers of all types with tomato-basil couscous instead. At least they didn’t serve it with cranberries. I can think of one celebrity chef who would fly into a fit at the mere thought of such a food faux pas.
The cookies themselves are individually wrapped and wafer-thin, with a bit of creme filling inside. This is helpfully shown on the package, whereupon one of the cookies has a wedge-shaped piece removed to reveal the coffee-flavored creme within. The filling contains a smattering of speckles, probably to remind the eager eater that these crisp cookies are filled with the flavor of French coffee. The taste is pleasant, and these cookies don’t seem to contain too much caffeine. This is good, since I wouldn’t want to have a frappuccino flashback.
I can’t vouch for the authentic Frenchness of these cookies since I’ve never been to France, and I do have a sneaking suspicion that they would probably be called Taiwanese Cookies in Toulouse. Nevertheless, they are great as a light snack when you’re craving a crispy coffee confection. I don’t, however, recommend serving them with fried rice. That’s a side dish best reserved for kung pao chicken and European architectural icons.
Many aspects and objects in life make very little sense. Things like math, cats, Kulfa Koya, and British political parties continue to baffle and cause me distress.
What’s that, you say? You are confused by my list? Ah. It must be the cats. See, I’ve never liked cats, and they continue to harass me, to the point where I once dubbed a cat Cujo (yes, I know that is a dog’s name). All in all, their existence confuses me.
Oh…you weren’t confused about the cat being there? You don’t like them either?! We should form a support group. I understand, though, from the intonations in your imaginary voice, that you are still perturbed by something. Of course! The Briti–No, you say to me, you are bothered by the Kulfa Koya. You are not familiar with it, I suppose. Well, allow me to explain. Kulfa Koya is a type of Pakistani dessert item that, as far as I can tell, is supposed to be served as a sort of bread pudding popsicle. However, Kulfa is Urdu for Purslane, a succulent plant often served as an herb. There is no Purslane in Kulfa Koya, however. Purslane does make an appearance, though, in multiple other dishes from the Indian subcontinent, all beginning with Kulfa. So, I dug out my detective kit from my days with the FBFCR, and went digging. As far as I could tell, whatever Kulfa Koya is, it isn’t Kulfa, as every other Kulfa dish is either a) not a dessert, or b) containing actual Kulfa. Well, several minutes and 27 dead militant Communist Mangoustanis later, I got my answer.
What I was about to make and subsequently consume was not in fact Kulfa, as the label suggested, but instead Kulfi, which is essentially a Central Asian ice cream popsicle thing. I discovered that it is often flavored pistachio, almond, cardamom, or even rose. I checked the ingredients of the box. Apparently, what I had in my hands was basically the Everything bagel of Kulfis. I was enthralled, especially since the box guaranteed purity, quality, and taste (although it didn’t guarantee good taste)! So, I began to make it, which essentially involved boiling milk until it reduced to custard, putting the ingredients of the Kulfa/i packet and pieces of bread (according to the instructions, 3 pieces of small bread, or two pieces of big bread) into the pot, putting it in a blender, and then freezing it.
Soon, it was time to eat! I took it out of the freezer and into the car to the designated meeting place of Armenian Fungus Cake. My colleague was there, prepared to eat. I looked at the muffin pan I was using to contain the Kulfa/i, and quickly discovered that it had melted into a sort of custard.
Despite this, I still thought that it was worth eating. Unfortunately, the taste did not meet my expectations. What I ended up with was a sickly sweet chilled pudding with hunks of bread in it, and the conflicting tastes of what seemed like every nut ever, cardamom, rose petals, and sweetened boiled milk. The final result was chaotic, thick, sticky, and a little menthol-y. Could it have been worse? Yes. Would it have been better right out of the freezer? Yes. Is it a Communist Mangoustani plot to glue our mouths shut with sticky-ness so we can never slander them again? Probably. Regardless, it isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially if you can handle rich food, but it isn’t something I entirely recommend.
It’s hot! It’s spicy! It’s crispy! It’s…seaweed?! From Taokenoi Food and Marketing Co., Ltd. comes this puffy pouch of oceanic edibles which promises to be “delicious with good nutrients from the sea”. Like most other snacks of its type, it comes in many flavors such as Original, Tomato Sauce, Wasabi, Seafood, Tom Yum Goong, and Pizza. This particular portion happened to be Hot & Spicy flavor, which is clearly depicted both by the words on the label and by the little man with steam coming out of his ears and tears running down his face.
Inside the pouch there are a multitude of paper-thin pieces of crispy seaweed. This should come as no surprise, since this snack is called “Crispy Seaweed”. As promised, these were delicious. I assume they also contained good nutrients from the sea, but I have no way to verify that culinary claim. Unfortunately, in spite of the spice, these seaweed snacks neither caused steam to come out of my ears nor tears to run down my face. This was a bit of a disappointment, since I enjoy spicy foods and I don’t mind enduring an occasional moment of cranial combustion in order to get my piquant pleasure.
You may be wondering why, with such a wide variety of flavors available, I chose something as simple as Hot & Spicy instead of, say, Tom Yum Goong. The reason is that I unfortunately am nowhere near a Taokaenoi Land store, and thus I had to choose between Original and Hot & Spicy. If I were near a Taokaenoi Land store, I could have purchased every possible variety of Crispy Seaweed, not to mention the Big Sheet size. The Big Sheet package depicts a much larger version of the Tao Kae Noi man greedily gorging himself on a gigantic sheet of seaweed. These also come in many flavors, but not Tom Yum Goong. Apparently Big Sheet Tom Yum Goong is just too much Tom Yum Goong. Another thing I could buy from Taokaenoi Land is a doll in the form of the Tao Kae Noi man himself, though without steam coming from his ears. In short, Taokaenoi Land is the one-stop shop for all things Taokaenoi.
Sadly, the current blogging budget does not cover a trip to Taokaenoi Land, so the Tao Kae Noi man will not be gracing these pages any time soon. Nor does it appear likely that we will be able to sample Tom Yum Goong Crispy Seaweed. Nevertheless, we can still enjoy the Hot & Spicy variety of this snack with its good nutrients from the sea.
In the realm of snacks there did arise
A beverage filled with much surprise.
Made with neither grape nor pear
It was a more complex affair.
In the mix there was no berry,
Apple, peach, or even cherry!
With chunks of pulp both black and white
The drink was quite a curious sight.
“What is that in the plastic flask?”
The leader of the realm did ask.
It was neither stem nor root:
It was simply dragonfruit!
And when of this drink he did partake
He declared all else he would forsake,
For in the realm nothing else would
Please his palate as dragonfruit could!
When it was gone, he called for more.
“Bring me three, or even four!”
And the realm was searched, yes all around,
But dragonfruit drink could not be found!
The leader sat upon his throne
And did this awful fate bemoan.
“Shall I never again the dragonfruit savor,
with its crunchy seeds and subtle flavor?”
He set forth upon a quest
And swore that he would never rest.
He would visit each and every land
Until he held dragonfruit drink in hand!
And though many imposters he did sample,
Not a single one of them was ample.
For no seed, no stem, no stalk, nor root
Can take the place of dragonfruit!
It seemed his quest was all in vain;
That he must continue to abstain
From the drink he did so love
(Barring a miracle from above).
But then one day, with his own eyes,
He did glimpse a big surprise!
Upon a tray of foam pure white,
There was a most amazing sight!
At first it certainly did seem
To be something out of a dream.
It was better than a simple boring drink,
It was a real dragonfruit, so round and pink!
He would have it no matter what the expense!
(Which was seven dollars and fifty-eight cents).
He returned to his home, his quest complete,
And he prepared the dragonfruit to eat.
After his long quest filled with such strife,
He sliced the fruit with his sharpest knife,
And this good king, I’m pleased to report,
Did share it with the members of his court.
In the realm of snacks there did appear
Much joy and mirth for all to hear!
There was music with both drum and flute,
For the king had found the dragonfruit!
When it comes to four words that you wouldn’t expect to appear together, “milk peanut with soup” is probably rather high on the list. Perhaps not quite as high as “regiment of rampaging rambutans,” but it’s still an unlikely combination. Speaking of four, Chiao Kuo Milk Peanut with Soup has just four ingredients: water, peanuts, milk powder, and sugar. That’s not counting the folding plastic spoon under the lid, of course. The presence of the folding plastic spoon is hardly even worthy of a mention anymore, since it seems to appear atop virtually all mysterious canned dessert soups.
The package depicts Milk Peanut with Soup as being a bright mixture of white peanuts and almost-fluorescent liquid. It’s served in a clear glass bowl with a metal spoon. Obviously we aren’t getting a metal spoon or a fancy bowl with this can of Milk Peanut with Soup, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the rest of the illustration is equally illusive.
Upon opening Milk Peanut with Soup, one is greeted mainly by soup (and an uninviting smell), with nary a milk peanut in sight. And this soup is far from fluorescent; it’s a troubling shade of taupe with drops of oil languishing on top. Upon stirring the soup with the included folding plastic spoon, a few paltry peanuts momentarily float to the surface. They bob around briefly before sinking back to the bottom of the can. This general lack of legumes leads me to believe that this product might have been more accurately called “Soup with Milk Peanut” or even “Milk Soup with Peanut,” since at first it appeared that there might actually be only one peanut in the whole soup.
After a few attempts, I was finally able to nab one of these nuts with the folding plastic spoon. This was very unfortunate, indeed. The combination of water, peanuts, milk powder, and sugar proved to be quite unappetizing. My culinary co-conspirator and I each consumed a single peanut before agreeing that this was a snack that should be set aside. It ended up being ignominiously impelled into a ready receptacle.
Interestingly enough, the can proclaims that these are “Taiwan Peanuts,” apparently showing the same level of Taiwanese pride as seen on the package of Shownice Boiled Salted Duck Eggs. But unlike the decidedly delicious duck eggs, these peanuts are not certified as to their “Taiwan of origin.” This leaves open the very real possibility that Milk Peanut with Soup is actually an East Mangoustani plot to discredit the milk peanut producers of Taiwan. In the world of strange snacks, the skullduggery never seems to end.