Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Dish Best Served Disgusting

If you've ever watched the original Japanese version of Iron Chef, you may recall that many of the foods that were featured in the competitions were not only things you have never heard of or seen before, but were also stomach turning. Things like raw sea urchin, roe and eel often made viewers squeamish at their (warning: highly technical term coming) icky qualities.

But it got me thinking. I'm sure to Japanese viewers, those ingredients were not only completely normal, but also hunger inducing. I imagine a Japanese man watching and thinking "Ooh, I could really go for some octopus tentacle stew right now!"

But what if the tables were turned? Although there is an Iron Chef America on television now featuring more Western cuisine, it does not feature some of the weirdest foods that we as Americans eat. Foods that Japanese would probably see and say "That is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. How do they eat that!"

Here are some examples of food items that Japanese would think is weird or gross that would make for a great ingredient in an Iron Chef America competition:

Nacho Cheese -- I'm talking about that stuff you get at a baseball game that is called "cheese" but is more likely some combination of oil, thickening agents, food coloring, artificial flavoring and artery cloggers. It's really a mystery goop that looks less like a food item than it does an industrial-strength lubricant.

Hot Dogs -- I know, I know. Easy target. But hot dogs are really just casings of mystery meat. And the closer you look at them, the less they look like meat. Whenever the words "mystery meat" are involved, it automatically makes the list.

Anything made by Chef Boyardee -- Mmmmm, a thick ketchup-like sauce soaked in soggy pasta noodles and mixed with something that looks like some sort of beef, but may actually be dog food. I imagine if you served this to an Italian for dinner, he'd promptly stand up and punch you in the face.

Fillet O' Fish Sandwich -- Greasy, fried frozen fish. Warm mayonnaise-based condiment. And American Cheese. I know I've picked on fast food before, but I'm not sure this item technically counts as a real "food" item. It may be food-flavored product.

Movie Theatre Butter -- See Nacho cheese sauce entry above.

Meat Loaf -- Let's make a loaf of bread, but instead of using flour, let's use ground meat instead! Yummy! And better, because it's so thick, it will more than likely be completely dried out by the time it's cooked.

Cranberry sauce -- Not the stuff that has actual real cranberries in it, but that stuff you see at Thanksgiving that requires you to slice it up into serving portions. Some genius thought "I bet cranberry sauce would be so much better if we took all of the fruit out of it and substituted it with gelatin product!"

Chocolate-flavored Yogurt -- In theory, it sounds like it'd be great. Chocolate = good. Yogurt = good. Chocolate yogurt = instant stomach ache. It's like putting a dollop of sour cream on top of a bowl full of chocolate ice cream.

The list could go on to include things like deep fried candy bars, White Castle sliders, pop tarts and more. I guess the cuisine you enjoy is the cuisine with which you are the most familiar. Don't get me wrong. I won't be enjoying a bowl of tentacle soup anytime soon. But I may just pass on that order of nachos the next time I'm at the game.

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