Now Serving

As part of his annual Christmas party, my oldest son has to bring something that tastes strange to school, so he wanted to stop at the Asian grocery store.

I’ve done this from time to time, generally when my beautiful wife is hunting something exotic for a recipe, and I have taken to picking up some odd canned fruits to serve with dinner. In the past, I’ve gone as far as canned quail eggs, although I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even try those.

So whilst my son got his crazy soft drinks and candy, I picked out a selection.

We have:

  • Mango Slices in Syrup
  • Bitter Melon in Brine
  • Toddy Palm’s Seed Whole in Syrup
  • Jackfruit in Syrup
  • Longan in Syrup
  • Banana Blossoms in Brine

Each night, I alternate between my boys and ask them to pick and apportion the fruit into three bowls (as my wife does not care to participate in this ritual). So we tend to go from the more known to the more frightening-sounding as we go.

True to form, the youngest first picked the mango slices.

Then, last night, my oldest chose the banana blossoms which I thought would be the last selection. After putting them into the bowls, he drank from the can, thinking it contained syrup instead of brine. He pulled a face and spit it out and learned that not all fruit are stored in sweet syrup. Banana blossoms in brine, by the way, taste like bland artichoke hearts.

So now I’m betting the toddy palm seed will be the last. I think the youngest will take the longan tonight, and the jackfruit is a relatively known quality as we’ve had it before.

Lately, the local supermarket has offered fresh jackfruit, but I’m not sure why. I know when I was a produce clerk, something exotic appearing on our racks meant that the warehouse had mispicked the item, sending us sugar canes instead of limes, and they told us not to bother sending it back. So we would put it out since it didn’t cost us anything (we got credit on our invoice for the case of limes that didn’t show up), so any novelty sales to people like what I have become would be pure profit.

But I have not bought a fresh jackfruit yet.

Perhaps soon.

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Reflections on Vegemite

On a lark, I ordered a small jar of Vegemite, the Australian sandwich spread. Come on, you know, the one mentioned in Men at Work’s “Men Down Under”:

So yesterday was the day to try it out. I made a sandwich for myself and a couple small quarters for my children to try, and….

I had one bite. Which I managed to chew and completely swallow. Although not in the time it took me to throw the rest of the sandwich out.

Never in my life have I had a hankering for a beer/sardine/salt/coffee sandwich.

Although my children started complaining about it before it was served in their normal resistance to something new, I came to agree with them, and they tried it themselves after I took my bite and reacted comically to it.

I mean, I grew up in poverty, but my family was not poor enough to serve this.

I’m blessed to have grown up in a bountiful land where one can go pick food from outdoors instead of a desert surrounded by twenty-foot-long crocodiles.

The wikihistory of Vegemite is that an entrepreneur wanted to make a food out of industrial by-products. And he did it.

God help me, I saw in the Wiki entry that they use it as a pastry filling. I suspect that the Australians do this to keep other people away from their doughnuts.

You know why Australian rules football is so vicious? The winners get a Vegemite sandwich. The losers get a year’s supply of Vegemite and a sixty-DVD Paul Hogan complete film set.

It does give me a couple insights into the Men At Work song, though. Now I know why Australian men chunder.

Needless to say, of the 220 grams of Vegemite shipped to Nogglestead from England, the total consumed was probably a gram before I dumped the jar in the garbage. Which I’m frankly afraid to admit on the Internet lest it’s a felony to dump Vegemite in an American landfill.

(For other Brian Tastes frivolity, see lingonberries and sesame seed bread.)

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The Continental Palate of Brian J.

After my recent experience with lingonberries, suddenly I’m trolling the international section of the local Price Cutter looking for interesting sounding things to consume. I mean, someone has to. No, if you’re wondering, they have not yet restocked the lingonberries after I bought one of the two jars on the shelf. The hole is still there, like a missing-toothed smile, and it will remain so until the next boat from Sweden docks in Springfield.

What did I get this time?

A German bread made from sunflower seeds. Continue reading “The Continental Palate of Brian J.”

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One Swedish History Book, And I Am A Changed Man

I read Swedish History in Outline, and all of a sudden I’m trolling the grocery store’s Scandinavian section.

And buying lingonberries.


Klingon berries, you ask. No, lingonberries.

What are lingonberries?

Things you should never discuss at PyCon.

Aside from that, they’re little berries from evergreen shrubs, the kind of things you tell your children to never eat.

And they’re Swedish.

Just like Gustav Vasa, but not as sweet.

Oh, the things I do and put in my mouth to amuse myself.

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