August 19th, 2006

congee hanzi

snacks o'er the border

I spent my freaky Friday working and grocery shopping in Shenzhen, China.

In the Americas, corn is a staple grain; in Asia, it is a stand-alone taste sensation. Examples: corn-flavored caramel candy, the Corn Cup side-dish at McDonald's, and this delicious, unnaturally corn-pungent corn-flavored corn-shaped ice cream bar. Price: RMB1 = US$.13

As with corn, dairy products aren't a dietary staple in much of Asia, and cheese is a commonly-cited Chinese Horror Food. But for every Chinese person shrieking, "Eww, cheese! It's just rotten milk!" there's a Frenchman muttering, "Uggh, la sensation de plastique!" as he elaborately pretends to choke to death on the cubes of tofu in his Japanese miso soup.

But one thing the whole world can agree upon is that nobody wants the chilli-flavored jellyfish.

We are truly lucky to live in this century, my friends. In the past, our ancestors had to scrabble to bung together four crappy kernels of teosinte, and in the future, there will be no culinary variety beyond Regular or Cool Ranch Soylent Green. As a celebration of having been born into the Golden Age of Snacks, waiter, I shall have the Assorted Stuff.