So there I was, finally living my dream of being a professional game show contestant. I was one question away from winning a million dollars and being able to retire from the Federal Bureau of Foreign Culinary Relations forever. I was tempted to walk away with my winnings and at least pay off the money I owe to Wong Lo Kat, but then I saw the million-dollar category: “Strange Snacks”. Of all the things in the world, this was surely what I knew best, so I chose to risk it all and try the final question.
After a commercial break that included an advertisement for the 9th Annual Rambutan Roundup, the host asked me, “What does Portugal taste like?”
I was stunned by this bizarre question, so I repeated it: “What does Portugal taste like?!”
The host calmly reiterated, “What does Portugal taste like?”
I mumbled under my breath while I tried to figure out the answer to this quirky query: “Portugal…Portugal…What does Portugal taste like? What does any country taste like? Have I ever tasted any countries besides Croatia? It can’t taste like Croatia, since they don’t have Kraš Express in Portugal…”
“Ten seconds”, the host prodded.
“Uh,” I stammered. “Er…Um…Bacalhau?”
There was a suspenseful pause, and then the buzzer sounded. “I’m sorry,” apologized the host. “That’s not the answer we were looking for. The correct answer was Ego Black Sesame Pie.”
After I recovered from the disappointment of returning to my menial job as a semi-professional snacker, I tried to understand how Portugal could possibly taste like Ego Black Sesame Pie. A long time later, I’d almost forgotten about the incident when I came across a box of Ego Black Sesame Pies in the local market. Sure enough, the package clearly indicated that these snacks were “Portugal Flavor”. I wistfully purchased the pies and gave them a try.
As it turns out, Portugal tastes like dry, crumbly filo pastry with frosting and sesame seeds on top. I wonder if they would have accepted that for an answer. Probably not.