Hong Kong ptui

05Jul07

It took me 26 hours to work up the guts to eat the chicken foot. Even then, it wasn’t a matter of working up the courage, so much as the hunger. I basically starved myself until it seemed like a palatable option.

Inspired by Marlene’s generous care package of Old Dutch potato chips, my dear friend Candace decided to do her one better by sending me an assortment of insane Asian snacks all the way from Hong Kong, where she now lives and teaches English. The package, which arrived yesterday, contained the following note:

Hey Ruddz,

Remember the rules? I send you snacks from Asia and you have to at least try everything!!!

Okay, you really don’t — some of it is grosser than a 50/50 poop brownie! I’m not that cruel. I also don’t want to be punished via internet!

Don’t forget to read the English! (Or rather Engrish!)

ENJOY!

Candace xx

P.S. Some of it is Japanese … it’s more popular here than Chinese stuff.

I should explain the 50/50 poop brownie thing. This comes from a discussion we had about what each of us would be willing to do for a million dollars. Eat a tray of fecal matter? Sure, why not? Not everyone would be willing to, though, but we figured a 50/50 mixture of fecal matter and brownie mix would be something most people would be willing to choke down. And once we’d established that principle, the question then becomes this: How cheap would you be willing to go? I figure I’d eat a 50/50 poop brownie for $1000, no problem. Hell, if she’s right, I’m about to eat worse for free.

Here are my impressions of each strange and terrifying Asian snack:

  • Aji Ichiban Red Bean Cake: This is made to look almost exactly like a small fake hamburger with a badly undercooked patty. It’s actually pretty good. It’s sweet, like a doughnut or soft cookie, and not overly beany. It’s better than I expected. Grade: B+
  • Aji Ichiban Preserved Plum King: It looks like a prune, which it is. It’s a dried plum. It’s a little sweet and a little sour. It still had a pit in it, so I mostly sucked on it and tried to gnaw off what I could. This isn’t that great. Grade: C-
  • Four Seas Green Tea Candy: Not only does the package look like a pack of Halls cough drops, but each candy is shaped exactly like a Halls. The makers must use the same mold to make them. They’re dull green, and it took me a while to figure out what they were, since the English labeling is tiny. I thought they smelled a little like curry, which might have been interesting. But sure enough, they taste like green tea with a hint of menthol. Grade: B
  • Aji Ichiban Wasabi Broad Beans: These are pretty much like wasabi peas, which I like a lot. Both are essentially legume-based carrier systems for wasabi flavour. Unfortunately, Aji Ichiban seems to be pretty strong and hard to open, and the package burst while I was tearing it open and the beans flew all over the place. Several are now behind my radiator. Too bad; I really like these. They taste good and seem healthy. I’ll have to run down to my local bulk store and pick up some wasabi peas. Grade: A+
  • Xylish Black Mint Gum: It looks like a strip of soft grey rubber in the shape of a stick of gum, although it’s weirdly smooth where your typical stick of Wrigley’s has that zigzag pattern. But it’s pretty much mint gum, albeit a little dirty tasting and a little mentholated. Grade: B
  • Denroku Almond and Fish Snacks: Candace has attached an ominous little note to these: “Share with your friends and make new enemies!” They look like slivers of almond and tiny little sardines, and they taste as advertised, which is as terrible as you’d expect. (Note: I tried these again later when I was really hungry, and they actually tasted pretty good in small amounts.) Grade: D-
  • Double Happiness Fortune Chocolate: She’s doubled my happiness by giving me two of these. The fortune is on the back of the label when you unwrap it: My fortunes are “Someone you meet today will play a big part in your destiny” and You will receive a cheerful call next week”. Each fortune chocolate is a square chocolate patty that tastes like low-grade Easter bunny chocolate. They’re okay, though my rating will improve if one or both of these predictions comes true. Grade: B (pending)
  • Pocky Men’s Bitter Chocolate: Candace has attached a little note here too: “Would be more useful if it were chocolate for bitter men!” I don’t really know what she means by this, but I like this snack, so take that for what you will. The package is full of little pretzel-like sticks mostly coated in dark chocolate; one end of each stick is left bare so you don’t get your fingers sticky. Candace says she throws these away, which strikes me as wasteful, but then, I was born two years closer to the Great Depression than she was. Good stuff. Pocky’s a winner. Grade: A
  • Four Seas Hokkaido Candy (Milk Flavour): She’s attached another little note: “At last, indeed. This is as ggg as I would ever get on the subject, btw!” Okay, I should explain that. I’ve been grossing her out lately with repeated reference to couples who practice erotic lactation. This package of candy comes with a big picture of a cow on it, to which the previous note points with an arrow. So this seems to be her way of saying that cows are for milk, not wives or girlfriends. (The “ggg” is a reference to sex writer Dan Savage and stands for “good, giving, and game”.) Anyway, the candy: It’s yellowish-white. It smells coconutty. It’s chewy. It’s just a chewy coconut candy. I’m not crazy about coconut, but it’s okay. It seems like they made this with coconut milk instead of bovine milk, but the label assures me it’s condensed milk, so the picture of the cow on the label seems to be justified. Grade: C+
  • Aji Ichiban Yellow Kiss: It’s not yellow. It looks and smells like a cube of brownie or chocolate cookie or protein bar. When you bite into it, it’s just pure semisweet chocolate, like chocolate chips used for baking. Very good. It reminds me of when I stealthily ate an entire bag of Toula’s chocolate chips over the course of several months. Grade: A
  • Aji Ichiban Fruit Juice Roasted Pork: Perhaps unsurprisingly, it looks like a square of jerky, with a certain fruit roll-up quality. It smells like pork. And what do you know? It tastes like slightly fruity pork jerky. I like my jerky a little saltier, but it delivered as expected. Grade: B
  • Bandai Candy Toy: It’s hard to figure out what the official name of the product is, since the packaging’s entirely Japanese. The box is 7.5 cm high, 5 cm wide, and 3.5 cm deep, but when opened, the contents take up only a fraction of that space, consisting merely of a white tablet that looks like an antacid but tastes like pineapple (the candy) and a tiny model of an anime character made to be used as a pendant or charm bracelet charm (the toy). It’s like a Japanese Kinder Surprise, I guess. The candy is bland but inoffensive, and the figure makes a nice keepsake. I stuck it on my keychain. Grade: B
  • Aji Ichiban Isoyaki Chicken Feet: I was really dreading this. After the buildup she’d given, I was prepared for unspeakable horror. It’s actually just one chicken foot, which appears to be made of rubber. Actually cartilage, bone, fat, and grease. You have to really gnaw on it to get anything edible off it, and it’s so greasy it’s impossible to hold onto without dropping on the floor, which is good, because that gives you the excuse to stop eating it. It’s not quite as bad as I feared, though. It tastes kind of like the knobby cartilage on the end of a Thanksgiving turkey drumstick, which actually makes sense, since it’s basically the same thing. It still seems revolting in principle to eat chicken feet, though. And the grease is everywhere now. No matter how much I wash my hands and keyboard, it lingers. Grade: E

All in all, a thumbs-up to the package, which offered a mix of surprisingly decent snacks and ones about as awful as I’d hoped. After all, it’s fun to try something completely disgusting every once in a while, which is why I tend to buy a bag of pork rinds every three years or so. My only regret is that she didn’t throw in any shrimp chips, but then again, I can just walk a block and get those from the Chinese-run corner store.

Thank you, Candace! I’ll have to return the favour by sending some Tim Hortons coffee grounds, Swiss Chalet powdered sauce mix, and Christie Maple Leaf cookies to give you the tastes of home.



One Response to “Hong Kong ptui

  1. my sister actually loves charm bracelets because she collects different types of charm bracelets,”`


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