Mayonnaise Nation

Mayo is one of those things that some people absolutely adore and others despise.
While I was in Stockholm, I was struck by the amount of mayo used to flavor food.
Here are some examples of mayo-love I found during my sightseeing adventures:
1. At the famous food hall: Pre-prepared main meals
Where does mayo start and where does it end?
2. At the supermarket: Flavored mayo tubes
This display really made me want to paint!
In most cases, the flavor was indicated by the drawing on the end (shrimp, ham, smoked salmon, bacon, etc.) but at breakfast I encountered a tube with a picture of a little boy. …What flavor could this be?
(It turned out to be ham.)
3. At Marcus Samuelsson’s Airport Cafe “Street Food”: Mayo “frosting”
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this three tiered cake (sandwich)
laced with heaping amount of frosting (mayo).
Could mayo be a defining taste for Swedish cuisine? Does it make food taste more Swedish? I believe so!
Next time I’ll share my reasoning but in the mean time, just take a moment to imagine what it would be like to eat this cake/sandwich!

Royal Mail

I absolutely love receiving packages in the mail…especially if they contain food!

Remember when I introduce you to my top secret friend who works in Parliament?

Well, she sent me mystery flavor crisps through the royal mail!

Walkers has just launched a new campaign! They are “challenging the nation’s taste buds with three delicious mystery flavours inspired by ingredients and recipes from all over Britain.”

Mystery Flavors A (Blue), B (Green), and C (Red).

If we can guess what the flavor is we can win 50,000 pounds!

Let’s just speculate what each flavor could be based on the packaging today.

Ingredients featured on the package of Mystery Flavor A:

Cheddar cheese, red onion, sage, sour cream, roast chicken, tomatoes, parsley, ham, chives, and garlic

=Meaty Italian?

Ingredients featured on the package of Mystery Flavor B:

Red onion, rosemary, black peppercorn, brie, scallion, tomato sauce, yellow bell pepper, parsley, salami, and mushrooms

=Salami and brie pizza?

Ingredients featured on the package of Mystery Flavor C:

 Salami, swiss cheese, parsley, red bell pepper, shallot, red peppercorn, chiles, roast chicken, and cilantro
=Asian style meaty sandwich?
Ok, that proved to be harder than I expected. I have faith that you will have better ideas of what these flavors can be.
I’ll taste these in the next couple of days and report back.
But in the meantime, why don’t you take a stab at winning 50,000 pounds?

Zoo Coffee Regulars

Today, I learned that there are more cafes in Korea than restaurants.

Zoo coffee is the newest edition to our neighborhood.

The tiger and bear are regulars here.

Every day the bear changes poses.

I wonder what the bear is contemplating…

Maybe a date with panda bear?

Or maybe the bear was deep in thought about what waffle to order today…

Whatever it was I think the bear got what it wanted because on my way home I saw it chilling with one leg propped up on the table. I didn’t get to take a photo of it because it was dark out but I hope I will find it in the same pose tomorrow morning.

Let Koreans eat cake!

The hot thing to tote around these days is a cake box. I’ve seen tons of young adults each carrying colorful boxes at all hours of the day.

What’s the sudden hype around cakes?

Christmas in Korea is more like a holiday for lovers to eat cake.

Korean Christmas cakes aren’t like the typical cakes studded with fruit and nuts. Rather, it’s a white sponge cake with fluffy white icing. Every single bakery starts selling Christmas cakes a couple of days before the big day. Boxes and boxes of these cakes are stacked in front of shops, waiting to be bought.

I was at the Convention Center earlier this week and saw these cakes:

Cakes from Paris Croissant (a bakery chain)

On my way home, I passed by a short block that had 3 different stores selling Christmas cakes. (The person selling cakes outside Dunkin Donuts didn’t let me take any photos so I’ll just show you the other 2 shops)

Ice cream cakes at Baskin Robbins

You get a free hat with your purchase!

These are all fake models!

Do you see the one with penguins?

Kiwi flavored cake in front of Paris Baguette.
Check out the stacks of cakes in the back!

Here, you can either get a pig blanket or bottle of bubbly.

Upon closer examination, the pig blanket is wishing High School Seniors good luck on their national college entrance exam.
Maybe these are leftovers from last month’s campaign.

These cakes are priced approximately at $20.

Later that night, I saw these two guys on the subway who were on their way to meet up with their girlfriends.

I wonder if Christmas in Korea feels lonelier if you are single.

International Speed-friending Program

Overall, I love being an international student.
Although I have to pay extra fees each semester and had to give three large vials of blood for a TB test (I’m still convinced they did more than check for TB!) , it gives me special opportunities!

I received an e-mail this morning from the office of international student services titled “American Food and English Conversation.”

The highlights:

“Are you interested in meeting U.S. American students?

Are you interested in practicing English while having fun and enjoying good food?

If your answer is ‘Yes’, please come to the ‘International Speed-Friending Night’ at the International center!”

Of course the first question that flew into my head was: What American food will they be serving? I started thinking of possibilities. Sandwiches? Burgers? Wings? Cheese and crackers? Chips and dips?

I called the office twice to get more information but both times I got the answering machine instead.

So I sent an e-mail asking what type of American food will be served and patiently waited. Within the hour, Tricia, the office assistant, replied.

Her answer: “I am not sure what American food will be served, probably pizza.”

I should have figured. Aren’t you curious about what will go on at this speed-friending event?

Do you think I should go to find my ultimate true U.S. American friend?!?

Bacon Strips!

You’re so over hearing about my nyc trip, right? Well, I’m kinda over telling you about it.

All in all, I was able to go to Murray’s cheese, Murray’s bagels (twice), Jung Sik, Danji, and Rosewater. I was meaning to go to many more spots but the snow storm really impeded my mission.

***********************************************************************************************

Nothing is better than ending a long day with a bit of ridiculousness.

Have you heard of Epic Meals?

Well, they are a bunch of guys who claim: “We make your dreams come true, and then we eat them.”

To me, they define foul play when it comes to cooking. They basically use fast food to create dishes and layer in bacon strips to everything like it’s their job.

It’s absurd and gross.

In this clip, they are making fast food lasagna.
Start watching at 2:36 if you get bored with the food ordering process.

Surprisingly, they have a massive following ( 10,975,025 views on this clip on youtube) and there are 24,900 related clips on youtube. They are so popular that there are even spinoffs and parodies featuring young males.

Why is this appealing to men?

Is it the combination of fast food, bacon, and alcohol?

Or is it the way the main guy barks at you?

The interesting thing about the latter part of the clip is  the way it is filmed. Close ups and step-by-step procedures are similar to the generic cooking show formula. Also, the guys seem to be knowledgable of a wide range of cooking techniques.

So is this a social commentary about America’s obsession of fat, unhealthy food or are they for real?

Soup in a Teapot

Living in Bloomington has forced me to learn how to make dishes that I usually would go out for in big cities. This is not entirely a bad thing because I get to explore different cooking techniques and flavors.

However, one thing I have not been able to make at home is udon and sushi. Making dashi for the udon soup seems too complicated and time consuming and I just don’t have access to fresh fish. The true but sad reality is that I’m land locked!

I was craving Japanese udon and sushi so when my sister asked me where I wanted to go for lunch in LA, I instantly answered: Yabu! (A small local Japanese restaurant)

I gleefully ordered uni, anago, and samma sushi as well as a tendon set with hot udon. The udon was perfectly simple and soothing. Although the sushi arrived after I had almost finished the tendon set, the sushi was unbelievable. The uni was creamy with slight floral notes, the anago was nutty, and the samma’s sharp taste was perfectly balanced with fresh grated ginger.

My sister ordered a matsutake mushroom soup off the daily special menu. The description read: A delicate soup with mushroom, ginkgo nut, shrimp, and fish. The soup didn’t arrive until almost the end of the meal, in a teapot, with two small teacups (one with a small lime) accompanying it.

How was this soup supposed to be eaten? My sister first poured a cup of the clear soup, squeezed in a little bit of lime, and sipped it like a cup of tea. She said it was very flavorful. (I couldn’t taste it because it had ginkgo nuts) But she said that it felt strange drinking it like tea. I urged her to look inside the teapot and we discovered that there were ingredients that were promised on the menu.

She shut the lid again and said, “Am I supposed to eat that?” I guessed that they wouldn’t just put the ingredients in there if it weren’t meant to be eaten and it would be a waste not to eat such tasty bites. My sister countered, “But there’s no way that the Japanese stick their chopsticks in the pot and fish out the contents!” We glanced around the restaurant and saw that no one was paying attention to us. I quickly convinced her that it was worth looking silly rather than wasting such delicacies.

She started fishing out the contents and exclaimed that the mushrooms were delicious and worth the risk.  When the waitress came to clear the plates, I asked her how the soup was meant to be consumed. She confirmed that what my sister had done was right!

If lunch had been presented in the reverse order, it would have been perfect! But eating out of sequence made it more fun and novel.

living on the edge

Did I ever tell you that I’m allergic to tree nuts?

And I do mean deathly allergic. You know how Will Smith’s face gets all swollen in the movie Hitch?  Yup, that happens to me if I eat large doses of tree nuts.

How do I know? I once had a quarter of a slice of chocolate torte, which had ground hazelnuts in the crust. The reaction was so bad that my facial features disappeared and I became a glob.

Don’t believe me? Ask my sister, the sole witness of my near death experience.

I usually have to ask people to tell me if there are nuts and to remove them for me (proven to be not a very reliable method!). What I actually end up doing is relying on my tongue to determine if I’m allergic to something in the food. But it takes time to taste a little and wait for the slight tingle, which signals the presence of an allergen.

Could my life become hassle free with this allergen detector?

My guess is not but I’d be willing to try one out for a bit.

Birthday denials

It was my birthday yesterday.

I was trying to keep it on the DL but I received some fantastic gifts that I cannot keep to myself!

It may come as a shock to those who have known me for a long time because I usually relish each and every moment of my birthday to the point that I celebrate a week before, the week of, and a week after.

I remember having 5 different birthday parties when I was 7 and feeling the need to have MORE! But this year has been different…or so I thought, until I got this delivered to me yesterday.

Thanks T and N!

The caged delights

The Treasure!

I was so excited that I decided to have a wine and cheese party tonight! I got a couple more local cheeses so that it will be Murray’s vs. Indiana showdown.

My other fab presents will be revealed in following posts, so tune in!

***********************************************************************************************

Last night, before dinner I found this waiting for me:

My apartment complex made me a goodie bag! (Well, minus the bubbly!)

The end!

Pretense

I’m a true poser.

I sometimes like to pretend that I like a food item that I actually don’t really care for  just because it’s the cool thing to do.

Mentality: It’s not them, it’s me!
If  everyone else seems to like it, something is wrong with me…right?

I keep on trying it, hoping that I will acquire a taste for it. It has worked multiple times and now I have learned to love olives, espresso, and canned artichokes.

But there are some foods that have strange flavors or textures that I just can’t seem to get. Here’s a list of items that I tried but had to give up on:

1. Twizzlers: It’s too dry and chalky.

2. Ice cream floats: The fizz and cream combo+ the cold sensation in both liquid and semi-liquid form = unpleasant.

3. Nacho cheese (The kind you get at a sporting event): It’s too salty and gummy.

4. Red bull: just tastes like chemicals.

**********************************************************************************************

Last night, J and B told me about strawberry flavored Twizzlers that you can peel like string cheese! They swear it doesn’t taste like the regular kind and that it’s fun to eat! I’ll be trying them out soon to see if I can finally cross Twizzlers off my list.

What are some foods that you want to like but can’t get yourself to actually embrace?