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Spring Cleaning

I have a few things in the pantry that seem weird.
Let’s try them out.

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Unfortunately, I was unable to find a cohesive theme for this week’s food selections. It’s just a bunch of stuff I found around town. If you can think of a unifying category or pun, feel free to try your hand at re-naming the post, and submit it in the comments. I spent a long time trying, and nothing worked.


Moving along… For the first course we come to:

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Fruit Flavored Beef Jerky (Hsin Tung Yang brand).

Oh boy, you guys. I don’t generally approve of fruit-meat combos (with a few notable exceptions). And isn’t beef jerky already pretty good as-is? Why do you need to change it up? Then again this is a Chinese company, and China is responsible for the culinary miracles known as lemon chicken and orange chicken. Maybe they know the secret to making these fruit and meat flavors work together.

Also, what kind of fruit? I’m assuming a red fruit from the packaging, and I’m trying not to read ahead into the ingredients, because that’ll spoil the surprise. So, strawberry or cherry maybe?

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Here’s a view from the back of the package. …Yeah, we’ll come back to that in a bit.

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Opening the package reveals an odor of beef jerky and mashed cherries. Dark, sweet, almost tobacco-y like a cigar. The deeper I breathe, the less I smell the meat. Fruit is the predominant odor.

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I was afraid of that.

OK, we all know what it looks like, but doesn’t all beef jerky kind of look like that, too? This is moister than regular beef jerky, and some parts are sticky like the inside of a raisin. So that doesn’t help the overall image.

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The texture is similar to regular beef jerky, but this jerky seems like it was once drier than your normal pieces, and re-wetted with jam. The overall effect is moist, but the meat itself is splintery and dry.

The flavor is strange. It tastes like apples and strawberries, only darker. The meat flavor is effectively masked, so that it ends up just making the fruit flavor slightly worse. If you made a big batch of strawberry jam, but substituted mushrooms for 20% of your strawberries, you might get something like this.

Between the meat and fruit flavors, there’s also a milky-sweet sugary flavor that I can’t quite place.

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It’s food. Not great, but edible. If I was stuck in a fallout shelter for months eating only canned soup and beef jerky and then found this, I might think it was pretty good. But I’m not, and I don’t.

I’ll stick to meatless fruit and fruitless meat, thank you.

Oh right, I almost forgot. The ingredients:

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Caramel! That’s it.
…Also, that’s weird.

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Squid (pieces) in their own ink (Goya brand). This looks fun.

Long-time readers will be familiar with my fondness for canned fish. Hopefully this canned squid will measure up to our reigning Adventures in eating seafood champion, Smiling Fish mackerels.

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One question weighs on my mind. Is it really their own ink? Do you think they keep each squid with its own ink, or do they mix it all up randomly? I think it’s probably the latter, and that’s potentially false advertising.

Squid (pieces) in some other squid’s ink.

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The can is opened, and the smell is… pretty much what I expected. It’s seafood, so it smells like an aquarium. But, then once you get over the fish odor, there is something else. Onions, Italian spices. Maybe a touch of garlic?

First the smell is repulsive, then complex, then kind of good.

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Vibrantly orange oil covers everything. I decide to put some on a plate for a better view.

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The chunks of squid are covered in ink, which separates from the oil forming a black and orange striped outline around the mess.

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The colors have a hypnotizing effect, and I take several pictures of them.

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Alright, enough admiration. Let’s eat this glop.

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The first words into my mind are “Haribo© Gummy Trout.” It’s a bit rubbery, but not bad.

Spongy, fishy, almost flaky, very oily, bright, a little like chicken, a little like beef. Overall flavor similar to portobello mushrooms cooked in shrimp stock.

Actually, if you replaced the fish flavor with strawberry flavor it would taste very much like that beef jerky from before. I didn’t expect that.

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OK. Not my favorite, but decent. I bet it would be better warmed up, but I’m trying to keep my house from smelling like a fish market, so that’s not going to happen.

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Prometheus Springs, Lychee Wasabi, Capsaicin Spiced Elixir.

This is definitely one of the odder beverages I’ve seen in a while.

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The smell is the definition of confusing. Here is what I wrote in my notes, as I struggled to describe it:

Ammonia and fruit.Lemongrass and laundry detergent.
Beach? Cedar? Lawn clippings? Ozone?
I don’t know.

There are two distinct smells that have nothing to do with each other. The first is bright like artificial sunshine and perfume fruitiness. The second smell is wet like moss, familiar but indescribable. I think I smell sulfur, maybe.

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I eventually give up trying to describe the smell, and begin tasting.

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Oh man, this is going to be rough. Each sip, I have about one second to determine the flavor before the capsaicin kicks in, and it just becomes spicy.

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It drinks like a lemonade. Flavor like a weak berry-lemonade, but with a brass coin dissolved in it. The taste is sweet and acidic — almost electric — and that’s before the capsaicin hits. Then it just washes over into spicy, and resets my tastebuds.

It’s spicy. Yes, but not a crazy amount, and it’s weird to experience, because the spiciness doesn’t come from anywhere. There’s no pepper flavor. This is just pure capsaicin extract, so you get the spicy, without the flavor. My tongue tingles after I’m done for about 30 seconds, and my nose is a bit runny. A few times while I was taking tiny, quick, airy sips, it made me sneeze.

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So, while the spiciness is a bit gimmicky, it’s definitely interesting. It’s certainly different than anything I’ve had before, and I do enjoy that.
Well, I’m finishing up the bottle, now, so I clearly like it.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!

Want more? Check out more “Adventures in eating.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiffany permalink
    May 12, 2013 1:21 am

    I don’t have a clever comment, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your Adventures in Eating. Good descriptors. I had a bite of canned mussels recently and it was one of the worst things I’d ever tasted, so I especially admire your willingness to sally forth in the seafood category. Also, I like the shirt.

  2. May 12, 2013 10:37 am

    I kind of like “spring cleaning” as a title, but since taste seemed to be so mysterious in this one and none of these tasted anything like what you expected maybe you could do some variation on ‘unexpected flavors’ or ‘mystery flavors’? If only the beverage had the taste of mushrooms as well…

    • May 14, 2013 12:56 pm

      Yes. Halfway through, I thought I was going to have to call it “Surprise! Everything is mushrooms now!”

  3. May 21, 2013 10:16 pm

    I love your shirt, and I read the alt-text so I know where you got it. It seems like that drink would be good for clearing out your sinuses if you had a stuffy nose during cold season.

  4. May 25, 2013 7:49 am

    I love these Adventures in Eating posts! I swear I can always taste/smell everything alongside… which is not always ideal. But anyway… awesome adventuring.

  5. May 29, 2013 4:02 pm

    These are my favorites. Love the Adventures in Eating! I’m going to have to look around and see if I can find something to send to 1421 What St., Seattle. Other notes: “boeuf” is fun to say. Ink should never be an ingredient, especially in such a nonchalant way.

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