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Thanksgiving Dinner, part 2

Thanks for coming back for seconds. Let’s dive right in where we left off, last time.

We had just finished up the soup course, and we’ve got three more to go.

Salad Course:

Guilinggaofen. With a picture of a turtle… What do you suppose this is?

I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a gift from my friend, Zach. Thank you, Zach. How thoughtful, but is it edible?

The back of the package lets me know it’s called Tortoise Herb Jelly, and from what I can tell, it isn’t intended to be eaten by turtles. So, it must be people food.

Also, it requires preparation. (Jell-o salad style. Hence the salad course.)

Tuckahoe? Turtle Plastron? I just hope it’s not poison.

Time for a sniff.

Rhino cages. Zoo. Reptiles. So, I guess it smells like a turtle shell. That’s unpleasant to say the least, but to be expected, I suppose.

Oh, I didn’t even open it completely, yet. The smell was coming through the inner layer.

Once opened, the hideous odor intensifies. I spoon a little into a bowl to start making the jelly, and I notice that’s it’s basically dry clay.

When wet, the smell intensifies, yet again. Tortoise Herb Jelly could best be described as a potent swamp mud at this point in the preparation. Dark, rich, earthy, and acrid.

I should mention that the preparation instructions used precise terms like “90% of an ordinary bowl”, so I’m basically winging it here.

It goes into the fridge to solidify after this step. So, like my dad always said while going right for the mashed potatoes, “I’ll… uh… come back for the salad later.”

Entree Course:

My old friend Smiling Fish is back with a full entree this time. A while back, I tried the Green Curry Fried Mackerels, and found them to be surprisingly delicious. But I’m slightly worried about Fried Mackerels with Salted Beans.

Partly because, later, I ate something called Salted Mud Fish, which was truly vile.

I’ve described the Salted Mud Fish as purely burning, caustic, chemical salt. And if I’m honest with myself these ingredients are a bit too similar for my comfort.

As the can pops open, I smell that familiar, but still awful, odor of cat food.

Not a lot of beans visible on the first impression…

Once again, Smiling Fish brand wins no points for presentation. This general impression of a decomposing chicken carcass could hurt the overall score.

I’m going back to the can for a second, just to compare the actual product with the picture.

Even after draining and separating… I’m not seeing it. Also there’s like ten beans total.

Were these breaded at some point? I see a coating of some kind. Why would you bread and fry fish, just to can it in water?

Enough stalling, what’s it taste like?

Wet… and kind of sweet. Kind of a fish teriyaki. A little smokey, a little barbecuey. Pretty good.

Why are descriptions of “salted” fish so wildly different?! This has no noticeable salty flavor, even in the beans (which might as well not be there at all. They have no texture.)

That seals it. In my opinion, Smiling Fish Brand can do no wrong. I’m stocking up.

Yum! Now, if they could just fix that terrifying crime scene that greets you in every can, they’d be set.

I’m still feeling a bit hungry, what’s next?

Dessert Course:

Jubes, Nata de Coco. Strawberry flavor.

All right, I bought this just for the package. Good job, designers. It’s awesome.

Also, check out that description. “Fibrous” appears twice! For my money, there’s no more delicious word than “fibrous”!

That’s weird. It smells a little alcoholic. Only very faintly, though. It’s nice though, like a strawberry daiquiri.

What’s in this?

Nothing alcoholic. Hmm… Maybe it’s expired. The date says: 23.21.25…

So, it’s good until the 23rd month of the year 2025. Nope. I don’t think that’s the date, or at least not a western calendar.

Oh well, here it comes.

This is very peculiar. Immediately, I was convinced I was eating a pineapple chunk. The vague fruitiness and first texture just screamed pineapple to me, but very quickly afterward, it became clear that was not the case.

When I chew, it doesn’t split. It just compresses. So my mind goes, “OK. Firm Jell-o.” But no, wrong again.

It doesn’t spring back! It just compresses, doesn’t break apart, and stays compressed. What is going on here?! For a split second it clings to your teeth like a tapioca ball in a bubble tea, but it releases cleanly.

I had to take a series of pictures to show you this extremely unique texture.

Here’s where you think it would spring back, and be all rubbery, but…

Nope. You’re just left with a mostly-tasteless thin piece of latex-like substance in your mouth. It’s like a rubber sponge, but I can’t do it justice with words.

The texture is truly indescribable, because as I try, I make it seem gross, but it’s actually kind of fun. I’d recommend this to anyone wanting to try something harmless and different.

(I later found out that nata de coco is a fermented product made from coconut water. I guess that’s what I was smelling.)

Salad Course (revisited):

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

Looks like the Tortoise Herb Jelly is all set up now.

The colorless void beckons to me, wobbling gently to signify the unknown. I can’t wait.

The smell has gone away with the refrigeration process, but I reeeeaaaaallllyyyy don’t want to eat this.

Right away, it comes in with a powerpunch of fresh soil. Then it transforms into pure, distilled bitterness.

I like bitter. I love grapefruits and marmalade. I was prepared for a little bitter, but this is too much.

This is absolutely inedible.

Normally, no matter how terrible a food is, I try it at least twice so I can pinpoint some of the more elusive flavors. I like being accurate and informative with my descriptions, but nothing I can tell myself will make that spoon come anywhere near my mouth ever again. I have to focus and remember the flavors from the first bite.

It’s acrid, rust-covered grass smoked in burning rubber. It’s definitely not chemical, but all the worst parts of natural flavorings have teamed up here.

There! I did it. Give me something else to eat.

I plunge my hand into the Jubes, and shove the strawberry-flavored bits into my mouth.

Must. Taste. Anything. Else.


Check out more “Adventures in eating.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Deborah Hepworth permalink
    December 2, 2012 6:15 am

    Yummy! I think you should be in charge of the gelatin salads for Christmas dinner! A sort of “surprise” for all the guests……

  2. December 2, 2012 2:51 pm

    That Jubes packaging is so great. I want to try them now. They sound interesting.

  3. December 10, 2012 5:42 pm

    We had no idea the turtle “salad” would be so horrifying. Oh wait, yes we did.

  4. May 25, 2013 8:29 am

    That turtle jelly stuff apparently usually includes crushed turtle shell… but some of the commercial brands just fake it. I feel as if eating a crushed turtle shell might be 10-20 times better than what you described though….

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