Alexplorer's Asian Grocery Adventure: Part I
I grew up in Louisiana, so I thought I had eaten everything by this point in my life, but then I discovered my local neighborhood Asian grocery store.  I decided to take a quick pass through the aisles and buy anything that I didn't immediately recognize and didn't have to cook (because, well, I can't).

Pictured is most of what I bought on this trip.  I cover things basically left to right in the frame, although I only ate items I was felt adventurous enough to.

Palm's Seeds -  The picture on the side of the can blows these up to about four times their size, so I was really expecting something a face-hugger could pop out of.  However, these were only about the size of an almond (that's one in the spoon.  The syrup was just that: syrupy.  I have one hell of a sweet tooth, so this was great for me.  The "seeds" (I wonder what they would grow?  Palms trees?) were sort of chewy like Mike and Ikes without the candy coating.  What?  You've never chewed that off and been left with the gummy stuff?  Well, it's like that, only not as sticky.  Get some palm seeds and you'll know what Mike and Ikes are like.

CoCo Rico -  Carbonated sodas made with real coconut.  Actually, I'm not a big fan of coconut, but one of Dani's crazy nicknames for me was "coo coo ree coo" (spelled phonetically).  She was in the car in her pajamas since we just went out to return dvds that were almost overdue, so I only got this to show to her.  As it turned out, it was surprisingly good *and* tasted like coconut.  I would have thought those statements would have been mutually exclusive.

Afritada Sardines -  This combination shouldn't have worked, but it did!  Imagine this: Sardines, pork 'n' beans, with a tomato sauce.  Now, I admit I like sardines well enough, but this was really good.  Presumably the acidity of the tomato juice neutralized the alkalinity of the sardines, so the taste wasn't fishy at all.  Cool!

Pocky Men's Chocolate -  You know, chocolate is just about the last candy I would describe as "men's."  Was this a reaction to its creator's wife constantly stealing his?  It hardly seems worth it, but I went ahead and bought it in the hopes it was some sort of viagra substitute.  No such luck (at least that I noticed).  These just turned out to be really thin bread sticks (which tasted a little burnt) and dipped in a thin layer of chocolate.  Note that inside the package was this picture of a girl with some of the "men's" pocky (whatever that is), so I think I should sue for false advertisement.

Chinese Style Rice Pudding -  (left) Maybe I should have read the ingredients before I took this leap.  From the side of the can: "Glutenous rice, red beanpaste, sugar, lard, lotus nuts, water, melon seeds," etc.  I didn't expect there to be so little rice (and sugar!) and much beanpaste.  Ugh.  No, thanks!  I hate to waste food, but I'm not sure this qualified, so I threw most of it out.

Squid Shreds -  This was cheaper than beef jerky, but tasted pretty much the same, if a bit fishy (I mean that literally, not figuratively).  It was heavily salted and sugared (and MSGed, if there's a verb form of that), so the jerky comparison is closer than you would suspect.  The biggest difference was that you can chew a handful for about half an hour without making any progress.

Guanabana Juice (Soursop Juice) -  I have no idea what a "guanabana" is and/or what a "soursop" is either or whether the two are even the same thing, but I swear this tasted just like Pepto-bismol.  I was drinking it staight from the can (because I'm all classy like that), so I honestly had to stop and pour some in a glass to confirm this was not an opaque pink liquid.  It wasn't and looked innocent enough, just plain white, but scratch this off my future Asian grocery shopping lists.

Seasoned Capelin Roe -  For those who don't know (which would have been me a few years ago), "roe" = "fish eggs." This is actually an old favorite of mine.  I love sushi, and some of the better dishes include this.  Of course, it's always in small amounts, so there's nothing like buying a little tub of these and eating a spoonful at a time.  These eggs are very tiny and they pop like bubble wrap, so if you have a substantial touch of OCD like I do, you will probably chew on them for a good five minutes or so until you have to swallow the lot, completely popped or not.

Aloe Vera Drink with Honey -  I had expected this to be almost as bitter as my ex-wife, but it was surprisingly pleasant.  Of course, the honey probably helped a lot a well, considering I have mouth full of sweet tooths (er, teeth).  The drink was clear and not carbonated (you just never know when you're in the uncharted territory of Asian soft drinks), but there was a surprise lurking below the surface: The aloe!  Now, maybe the grass jelly incident from a previous foray down the drink aisle should have clued me in to the fact that Asians like their liquids to be at least a little solid (you know, just to make you choke on something else while you're trying to wash the first thing down), but I never seem to learn.  Fortunately, the "chunks" were rather small "scoops" out of the leaves of the plant and were only about as solid as old Jello.  Dani used to work with cancer patients, so she suggested maybe this would be a good treatment for those undergoing radiation treatment for throat cancer, since their "sun"burns are on the inside.  Maybe, but I like this stuff regardless.

Assorted Cookies (Theo Leo) -  I was hoping for more adventure here than there turned out to be.  Though I never figured out who or what "Theo Leo" was, the cookies weren't too bad.  The only odd thing were the white birds-egg looking candies, which were just tiny chunks of hardened sugar that I almost broke my teeth on after assuming they were white chocolate (I have no idea why I assumed this either).  Getting back to the cookies, some of them were basically a chewy variety of peanut brittle, then there were some made of what looked like sesame seeds (or some other component of bird seed) held together with the same stuff as the peanut brittle.  There were also black versions of the sesame cookies, but those tasted like they were made with coffee grounds.  Maybe they were?  They could be a prank for stupid white people like me who walk in and think, "Oh, cookies!"  Stay alert, kids.

Canned eels -  (Not pictured) I ate these before I took the picture.  Hey, I was hungry and didn't want to start with the candy.  As a matter of fact, the eel was pretty good.  Its texture wasn't too different than most other canned fish (maybe kipper?), but it didn't taste fishy at all and had a syrupy sauce that was pretty sweet.  You wouldn't think this would be very good, but, like I said, I was hungry.  I'll have to try it again when I can be more objective.

Room for more?  The adventures continue in Part II.

Copyright 2005 Ale[x]otic dish.
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