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Saturday, 14 February 2004

We Fear Change

Mood:  hungry
I thought I could do flavour opposites - my favourite popcorn is sweet mixed with salt, I love sausages pancakes and maple syrup, I really get off on bacon with mash and sweet custard. The last week contradicted my assumption that I'm able to be adventurous with food. It proved that thirty something hardening of the taste arteries has already begun. You know, the process that has you unable to vary your tastes in food, music or pop culture by age thirty seven, and makes the onset of Meldrewism a mere matter of time.

First off, Dee brought some sweets to Belfast from her last jaunt to Japan. Dee tests X Box games for a living (too late, geekboys, she has a bloke) and goes to Japan to try out unreleased new games a lot. She brought some salted plums to Belfast.
Her rare, favourite, delicacy.
Dee was generous enough to offer us one each, despite them being her favourite foodstuffs, and only available at great effort and expense in the land of the rising sun. The pressure was high to respond ... if not well, then politely. Gratefully, anyway. They were like miniature purple nectarines - furry, a little larger than a fat man's thumb, and smelt faintly like urine.
Mistake number one was saying that out loud. A tentative lick of the bruised looking fur revealed a strangely yellowed salty taste - much like when you lick the shell of a pistachio. Mistake number two: "ugh, it stinks of piss."
Apparently, they taste better than they smell, so I reminded myself that this was a gift, a treasured sacrifice, and bit into the thing. Mistake three.
An acrid flood of pickled egg pungency had me running to a sink to spit the thing noisily and publicly. If you met me in person, I'm dead polite, you know. Manners are important to me. I'm ashamed to say (four) that I made gagging noises while Dee watched me spit her precious fruit prize into spit covered pieces into the bin. In fact I only stopped going on about it hysterically when Yidaho came in, so that I could smile, smack my lips, tell her they were just peachy delicious, why didn't she try a whole one?

But it could well have been an aberration (sorry, Dee), a one-off taste explosion nasty.
Rather than a paralysis of my ability to experience the new. However, last night's menu sampling at 'Garlic n Shots' set the seal upon my atrophied sense of experimentation. Set the seal, padlocked it, threw away the map. But good.

I began with a garlic beer - light Scandinavian lager, with chopped, raw garlic floating at the head. (One glass. Don't like so much the process of having to chew my beer.)
Next, rubbery game in a garlic goulash, with aioli, accompanied by mashed raw garlic mixed with a little potato. J@B had kalamari stuffed with chopped garlic. By this time, I was swimming with nausea, and had to check there was no garlic in the damn ginger ale as I dropped bunch after bunch of garlic, desperately.
Once the queasiness was quelled by parsley munching, I ordered the dessert - opting for garlic chocolate truffle with a garlic and raspberry coulis, while J@B had a skewer of whole roast garlic cloves dipped in chocolate sauce laid across garlic honey ice cream.
It was putrid. The flavours didn't so much blend as wash over you in separate consecutive waves. For bravery's sake I managed two teaspoons, then had to make a dash for the Haagen-Dazs shop and espresso with six sugars.

When did I lose my ability to appreciate the new? Although I do value the ability to wield the mighty power of the truly atomic garlic burp - certainly proving useful in securing seats on the train journey home - it's a sobering, frightening prospect. Nothing new. Ever again. Ulp.

Yeah, yeah, okay, so the irony's not lost that most people wouldn't dare feast on a garlic layered smorgasbord the evening before Valentine's Day, but I did get a Valentine, thankyouverymuch. From my mobile phone company. Innit.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:40 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2004 6:00 PM GMT
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Saturday, 14 February 2004 - 5:55 PM GMT

Name: tess
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They were the worst salted plums I have ever tasted. Vic has the best salted plums I have ever tasted!

Saturday, 14 February 2004 - 8:56 PM GMT

Name: Looby

That's not being afraid to experiment, that's avoiding awful tasting things. Loved the bit about the bingo hall in Belfast. What do the locals shout instead of "Jesus" "Chirst"?

Saturday, 14 February 2004 - 11:11 PM GMT

Name: tess
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We shout check :-)
Maybe it's spelt cheque on big wins.

Sunday, 15 February 2004 - 2:19 AM GMT

Name: yidaho
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I was inspired to go to sainsburys and buy garlic after reading your post. "Solo garlic" - Is this new? Just one huge clove in the bulb. Naturally I had to use the lot. Man, my chilli was goooood. :)

Sunday, 15 February 2004 - 5:50 AM GMT

Name: charlene
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Garlic beer, garlic & chocolate - sounds a nightmare. But, if it gets you space on the train or tube, I am there!

Sunday, 15 February 2004 - 7:51 AM GMT

Name: Winnie
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I love garlic but geez Louise I think putting garlic with chocolate is blasphemous. Who would intentionally corrupt rich, warm, comforting food of the Gods?

Sunday, 15 February 2004 - 11:32 AM GMT

Name: jatb

Oh, but it was lovely. Really.

Sunday, 15 February 2004 - 8:24 PM GMT

Name: yidaho
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The salty plums tasted like olives to me.. in fact, they were far more palatable than olives, I thought.

Monday, 16 February 2004 - 1:22 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Big liar, you didn't manage more than one teaspoon of the truffles, either! :D

Monday, 16 February 2004 - 5:30 PM GMT

Name: tess
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I've never tasted Olive's plums either!

Monday, 16 February 2004 - 9:06 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Wow but your blog is foul mouthed... brilliant, I'm linking it straightaway... :)

Monday, 23 February 2004 - 4:47 PM GMT

Name: Rose
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Salted Plums are popular here, we get them from Mexico. They're not as much a "delicacy" there as they are very typical children's candy.

The other day I also had some lovely dried mango with salt and chile powder on the outside, also courtesy of a Mexican market.

I don't know how much 'true' Mexican stuff you can get across the pond, but from my limited experience with Japanese "delicacies," I'd try the Mexican salted plum variety before giving up in total on the concept.

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