It’s crispy, crunchy, slightly salty, a bit smoky, really savory and totally umami on your tongue. It comes from a pig, tastes great in dinner or dessert, and makes Jewish people really uncomfortable. It’s crispy bacon, my idea of the perfect food. It is jiggly, gooey, and sometimes served cold. Think Jello, only fish-flavored, and the unmistakable feeling that someone is watching you eat. It shakes and wobbles as it slides down your throat, and if you are lucky enough to chew it, you certainly know from the texture what the heck it is you are eating. It is a jellied fish eye, the worst food I can possibly think of. Put them together and what you do get? Crispy Bacon and Jellied Fish Eye, my newest blog post of awesome and not so awesome things in the world of food. This week, we got 2 crispy bacons and 2 jellied fish eyes. Crispy bacon #1: PB Loco Dark Chocolate Duo
I came across this peanut butter in a specialty Chicago cooking store/school, The Chopping Block. It wasn’t terribly expensive as far as gourmet food products go, only $6.95, and let’s be honest here folks–I’ve been around the gourmet food block a few times and seen more than a few casualties. $6.95 for a jar of gourmet, healthy, transfat-free and yet delicious chocolate-filled peanut butter is not that bad. $15 for a box of cookies? That sort of hits me below the belt in the baby maker. When you open the jar, it looks like peanut butter with little chunks of chocolate chips. When you stick a knife in, the chocolate, both dark and semisweet, starts to slowly melt and mix in with the peanut butter. Some of the chocolate stays in chunks, some melt away like peanut butter tends to when you put it on a piece of really hot toast. So far, my favorite application has been spreading it on hot cinnamon raisin toast. Also a fan of eating it with a spoon, with a carrot stick, with a cookie, with an apple slice, on top of plain cheesecake with banana slices. On my finger. I haven’t actually tried it with crispy bacon, but I get butterflies just thinking about it, which makes it a crispy bacon for me. It was created by a group of lawyers. Sandwich-loving lawyers. Peanut butter sandwich loving lawyers. They have a lot of interesting flavors, like curry peanut butter, chocolate banana peanut butter, cinnamon vanilla peanut butter….read more about it
here. Jellied Fish Eye #1: Yerba Mate Soda
If you’ve never heard of Yerba Mate, check out my fellow gastro-pal Cari’s blog here (she talks about it at the end of the post) or wiki it here. Mate is a South American drink and actually the national drink of Argentina, where Cari lived for a year or so. You basically steep the yerba mate leaves in hot water in a special hollowed out gourd, and you drink out the liquid with a special straw that allows the liquid into your mouth but keeps the leaves out. It is a very social drink, and I know Cari leaves the leaves in the cup for a while and constantly refills it with new water, sort of reusing the old tea leaves. Ew. Mate tastes like sort of like green tea mixed with fertilized grass. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Mate tastes like animal poop-covered grass…with a lot of caffeine. Sorry Cari. But imagine my surprise when I was making my way through a Mexican grocery store in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and came across Yerba Mate soda. They liked their ass in a glass so much, they carbonated it into a soda? I wasn’t feeling brave enough to try it, but it is good to know that the U.S. manages to take care of all strange food and drink obsessions. Maybe one day I’ll get a hankering for some animal poop-smeared grass-flavored soda. Yum. Crispy bacon #2: Cooking guide DS That’s right. For those who love gaming and have a desire to eat something other than a frozen pizza, get excited–Nintendo likes you. They like you so much, they created a game for their DS called Cooking Guide: Can’t Decide What to Eat? The game is actually a guide that helps you pick a recipe, and walks you through every step of cooking it, explaining cooking techniques, how to use cooking equipment, and showing videos so you know if you are following the recipe correctly or just burning the crap out of the meat. You can see a video of the game here. According to the video, it even shows you how to use a recipe and eventually create your own recipes. It sounds interesting, but I am sort of s cynic because I had to learn to cook the hard way. What button do I push when my porc saute a la moutarde catches on fire? Or, you know, when I drop it on the floor? Is Nintendo going to teach me the five second rule? Or at least that leaving old bacon grease in a pan on your stove may catch on fire then next time you cook near it and that maybe, you should be wearing clothes when this fire occurs? I sure as hell hope so. Jellied Fish Eye #2: Peruvian Guinea Pig Festival Oh yes, it is true. First, those crazy Peruvians dress their guinea pigs up in costumes that beg the pigs to be name crazy important British-sounding names, such as Mr. Charles Joanthan Higgenbotham the third (my friend Amy wants to name every animal that name, btw). Then, as if that wasn’t morally degrading enough, they pan fried the little suckers with a bit of butter and sage. Don’t believe me? Check out this photo essay from The Telegraph–and make sure to look at all of the photos. This brings up an interesting topic–what determines what is and is not socially acceptable food within a culture or group? Because the last time I checked, in the U.S., guinea pigs are totally pet territory, and anyone caught frying them up like a chicken would easily be hauled off to jail. But in Peru, this is as normal as throwing a few hamburgers on the grill. In fact, in other South American countries, like Ecuador, they allow guinea pigs to run around the kitchen floor, feeding them alfalfa and vitamin supplements until they grow almost as big as dogs, and then they slaughter them for a family feast. This sounds like a jellied fish eye to me, but to some South Americans, this could totally be crispy bacon. I wonder what is was that made us want to pet guinea pigs and South Americans want to eat them…perhaps, culture? Poverty? Or food shortages? Or simply that there was an abundance of guinea pigs and a lack of other meat? I know that before the Spanish colonized Mexico, the people of Mexico subsided on turkey and dog meat, because that was all that the land provided. If it wasn’t for the Spanish coming in with their domesticated animals, you could be dining on a doggy quesadilla tonight! Interesting topic that might be explored more later… So that ends the first edition of Crispy Bacon and Jellied Fish Eyes. If you have any topics, food products or other food-related news to share, please email your ideas to me. And until then, stay away from the jellied fish eyes and heap on the crispy bacon. ~LTG!