Saturday, June 28, 2008


Am I the only one that thinks mixing clam juice and tomato juice is weird? It's not really the combination but the clam juice itself, I can't fathom the appeal, even as a lover of seafood. Perhaps I ought to try pure clam juice at some point in the future... if I can get over the strange mental blockage that's tied directly to my gag reflex.


Clamato was developed as a New England style cocktail by the Mott's company and it apparently is quite popular in the region. In Canada it inspired the Caesar, one of the nation's most popular cocktails. Anheuser Busch recently released Bud Chelada, a mixture of Bud Light and Clamato juice whose side effects include the inability to decide which of those two ingredients is the most disgusting... my vote goes to Bud Light.


I tried my Clamato without any adulterants and was surprised to find that the taste was rather different from what I had expected. The tomato juice is definitely the dominant flavor in the mix but I really couldn't detect any fishy notes at all. There were hints of celery and a savory tone courtesy of the MSG but the most unpalatable component of the flavor was the sickly sweetness of the high fructose corn syrup. In fact, if it weren't for the added sweetener I may have ventured to finish the bottle but I'll just stick with the V8 and it generic alternatives instead.


Monday, June 23, 2008


So, I haven't eaten one yet, but if these bastards keep destroying my tomatoes then I'm going to devour each and every last one of them... and hope that they're not toxic. I suppose I'll find out soon enough when I accidentally take a bite out of one lodged firmly in one of my delicious red orbs. I'm typically an insect lover but this pestilent creature has committed a most heinous transgression. This is war.

Helicoverpa zea - tomato fruitworm

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Squid In Ink

Much like my encounter a few weeks ago with the canned octopus, I simply couldn't resist the temptation of this item's visual assault on my eyes as they traversed the many strange items in the latino section of my local Wal-Mart. More important was the disturbing presence of squid ink as a marinade. Conjuring up images of the viscous black fluid I associate with quills and inkwells, I thought for sure this was going to be one disgusting venture.

squid in ink package

The first thing that hit me when I opened the can was not the sickening sight of the squid pieces suspended in what looks like motor oil from a high mileage vehicle but the smell. I enjoy most varieties of fish and other seafood, eating tuna most days out of the week, but this had to be the strongest fishy scent to hit my nose at such a proximity. It was as if an entire fishing wharf had been rendered down into a vile fluid and injected into a can.

squid in ink in can

Somehow growing accustomed to the smell, I moved onto the visual inspection. This simply did not look savory. The squid meat used in this concoction must be from the body of the beast as there was no evidence of tentacles. So I was essentially looking at meat shingles in a vat of tar and contemplating whether or not to stick it in my mouth.

Taking the plunge I was met with a texture and taste unlike any other I have encountered in my previous experiences with squid. The meat was tougher but not as rubbery as from the tentacles and had more of a fishy flavor. I am not sure what notes came from the ink itself as I read on the package that the marinade had been adulterated with tomato sauce, vegetable oil, garlic, and other spices. The taste was not very nice overall but not unpleasant either. I can see that it would go well cooked in something as opposed to being sampled in isolation.

squid in ink close up

Squid in ink is highly disturbing. Most of this is mental but the stench and oiliness are enough to put me off from trying it out of the can again. However, if anyone wants to whip me up a delicious meal using this as an ingredient then I'll be more than willing to give it a second go.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pocket Coffee

With the vast proliferation of hyper-caffeinated foods and beverages over recent years and the popularity of Starbucks and other coffee shops, I'm surprised by the lack of coffee infused chocolates on the US market. There are plenty of coffee flavored chocolates or the occasional chocolate covered espresso bean but there's nothing quite like Ferrero's Pocket Coffee which contains a mini shot of espresso liqueur in a thin sugar shell coated with chocolate.

pocket coffee

As can be expected from European foods, even candies and confections, the flavor is rich but not overly sweet, relying on fat and moderate sugar rather than bucket loads of corn syrup and lacking any hint of artificiality. I tried to gauge the effect of the caffeine content but it was not noticeable. I read that three pieces is equivalent to a shot of espresso so it's clearly not intended to be a stimulant.

pocket coffee ooze

A definite treat for any coffee fiend but good luck finding the stuff and don't expect the same buzz you'd get from caffeine infused "energy" foods.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Prickly Pear

So I knew that there are some edible cactuses, one of which can provide quite an interesting experience, but I was unaware that there were varieties of cacti that bore fruit.

When I saw the prickly pear, labeled cactus pear, I thought it was just some exotic fruit that, in the manner of some of my recent strange snacks, simply bore resemblance to the plant it was named after. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the prickly pear actually comes from a rather large cactus from the genus Opuntia. This cactus, the Indian Fig Opuntia, is actually quite common across the West and Southwestern regions of the US and much of Mexico.

prickly pear

I chose to eat my prickly pear but it can also be used to make dyes, intoxicants, and for medicinal purposes. Immediately upon slicing the fruit open the usage as a dye becomes evident as the innards are suffuse with a rich maroon liquid much like that fond in beets. The flesh is mildly sweet and has the texture of a grainier canned beet but the flavor more closely resembles a rich watermelon with notes of raspberry. My variety was not seedless so eating it involved taking a spoonful, pushing the flesh through the gaps of my teeth, and spitting out the hordes of ball bearings contained within each bite. Despite the tedious manner of consumption, I quite enjoyed the flavor. Not the cheapest of fruits but more affordable than the typical exotic oddity. Hopefully at least one of these hundred seeds will sprout and I'll get to repeat the experience in about ten years.

prickly pear cut

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Goat Milk

Up until now, I'd only tried milk from two different creatures: cows, of course, and a human (but I don't remember the experience). I was rather amazed to find that the local Publix sells goat milk and was compelled to immediately buy it, rush home, and pour a glass.

One of my coworkers drank goat milk a lot during his youth and another coworker has had it several times throughout his life. Both reported that it was delicious and sweeter than regular cow's milk. Being that it is an atypical food item I was expecting to encounter a stronger and more distinct flavor on my first sip.

I greatly underestimated the intensity of this "distinct" flavor and my second sip was purely out of incredulity and the inability to stop myself from repeating an experience that has shocked or disgusted me.

I love the taste of lamb and mutton. Goat meat is said to be quite similar in flavor so I could probably expect to enjoy it as well. Despite this, I have never wanted to drink a lamb flavored milkshake but I found myself doing this very thing in my kitchen and the horror of the situation was almost too much for me to handle. My second mouthful and the rest of my glass ended up down the drain and I was left struggling to get the disturbing musky taste out of my mouth.

A far cry from the experience of my coworkers, I found goat milk to be entirely unpalatable and give it the honor of being the most disgusting thing I have consumed so far in the process of creating this diary of strange foods. Now, please excuse me while I go vomit.

goat milk

Saturday, June 7, 2008


The tiny kumquat is the fruit which everybody has heard of but nobody has seen or eaten. The simultaneously exotic and humorous sounding name has given it an almost celebrity level status in the realm of strange food-stuffs in literature, radio, and television but it is nowhere to be seen in local stores and markets.

Within the past few years, after a lifetime of hearing the name, I learned that the kumquat is a small citrus relative so, somewhat accurately, I pictured an orange but on a miniature scale. Thinking more along the lines of a tangerine, I was surprised upon encountering the diminutive kumquat looking like a mad scientist's hybridization of an orange and a grape.

kumquat on the tree

I was afforded the great privilege of pulling one of these delicacies straight from the tree and devouring it on the spot. Unlike its cousins, the kumquat is meant to be eaten whole, skin and all. The skin of most citrus fruits smells incredible and this relative is no exception but, unlike citrus peel, the taste is not incredibly bitter and unpalatable. Perhaps its because the skin is so thin that the bitterness is masked but that lovely scent of citrus peel translates into an incredible tangy, orange-like taste. Combine that with the sweet and sour flesh inside and you have a huge taste sensation in a tiny package. Honestly, this is one of the most fantastic fruits I have ever tasted, so many flavors and so small... nature's perfect candy.

a kumquat in the hand

As luck would have it, we found a seed in one of the kumquats we picked so I'm currently trying to grow myself a tree. Maybe in five years or so I'll be able to again savor the sublime flavor of the kumquat.

Friday, June 6, 2008


The feijoa is a little fruit whose origins are in South America but can be found growing in the Southeastern United States and New Zealand. Despite its tiny size, the feijoa carries a big price tag and if you were to go by smell alone, it would hardly seem worth it. The scent gives a bitter impression and has characteristics notes of unripe or inedible fruits.


However, if you ignore the warning signs of the outer scent and slice it open (in looking at pictures online, slicing it perpendicular to the long side gives a more photogenic view of the innards compared to my lengthwise cut) the aroma becomes more appetizing and noticeably tart. The tartness hits hard upon the initial taste and it like sucking on pure citric acid. The texture is incredibly gritty but not unpalatable and this seems to naturally pair with the tart quality.

Beyond the initial taste and texture shock, the feijoa has a very pleasant flavor which I can't compare to anything else. It is sometimes called a pineapple guava but tastes nothing like either fruit but resembles a miniature version of the latter.

fiejoa cut

While I really enjoyed devouring this little fruit, the price and rarity means that there's not much chance of me making this a regular part of my diet unless, of course, I grew my own... and I just may.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Because the pepino is very similar in shape, smell, taste, color, texture, and structure to a melon it is often called a pepino melon. But despite so many shared characteristics, the pepino is not closely related to melons at all, the resemblance being another example of evolution arriving at the same general point from disparate paths.


The pepino is a smooth, white, fist sized, eggplant shaped fruit with thin purple bands running down the skin which are disturbingly reminiscent of stretch marks. It is not often found outside of its native Peru and Chile because it doesn't tend to take transportation well. This is reflected in the $4.99/lb price tag I had to pay for this one and at .59lb, I was out $2.94... a fair price to pay for my innumerable readers (if you don't consider zero a number).

The skin is incredibly thin and the insides are colored with a more off white color. The smell is evocative of a honeydew melon, sweet but somewhat bland and, well, "mellony". The taste, while sweet, is even blander than the scent and, although pleasant overall, there is a slight hint of soapiness.

pepino cut

The rarity of this fruit cannot be attributed solely to its bad reaction to travel. If the typical bland supermarket fruit can beat this little melon mimic then I don't foresee it ever being in high demand.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Forays into the ethnic food aisles of supermarkets are guaranteed to result in odd bounty (at least for us boring white folk), particularly the Latin American sections. Perhaps it's because I'm from Australia and wasn't exposed to much Central and South American culture as a youth but I find much of the cuisine to be strange yet often delicious.

malta bottle

I'm not a soda fan but do enjoy the occasional beer and so decided to pick up a small six pack of Malta, a beverage that contains all of the necessary ingredients to make beer except but it is not brewed long enough to produce any alcohol. Malta actually originated in Germany under the name Malzbier ("malt beer") as a mildly alcoholic fortifying beverage (fermentation was stopped at an alcohol content of approximately 2%). It does contain high levels of Vitamin B and carbohydrates that are essential to the preservation of life and was certainly a good nutritional supplement during less opulent times. It's no wonder that it is popular throughout Latin America where temperatures are high and much of the population engages in strenuous manual labor.

Malta has the color of a stout but the similarities to beer stop there. The sugar concentration is so high that you can almost feel your pancreas kick into gear upon smelling a freshly opened bottle. There is a definite cereal component to the aroma but the sweetness is overpowering. The malted cereal component of the flavor was very prevalent in my initial taste but it quickly gave way to the sickening sweetness of the beverage and I couldn't detect the presence of the hops. Subsequent tastes were akin to swallowing mouthfuls of diluted molasses and I occasionally found myself gagging.


Despite the sickeningly sweet nature of the stuff, I think that Malta would be great to drink after an intense weight lifting session, perhaps mixed with something else to dilute it a bit. But for now, I think I'll be sticking with the occasional beer as the flavor is far more pleasant.