Monday, August 29, 2011

Adventures in Snacking: Wasabi Doritos

Our bag of wasabi Doritos
So my mom stumbled across this really cool flavor of Doritos that I've never seen or heard of today. They're wasabi flavored, which pretty much means that Doritos has been robbing my thoughts at night in order to create the tortilla chip of my dreams. I did not ask why or how though! I simply accepted and ripped open the bag to try some.

My love for wasabi is unnatural and knows no bounds. I've been known to burn the crap out of my mouth on bags of those little crunchy wasabi peas... and pretty much the best part of eating sushi is getting to have a ton of that green wasabi paste along with it. The idea of a wasabi chip is almost too amazing for me to even wrap my head around it.

I thought the fact that I'd never seen or heard of wasabi Doritos before just meant they were really new. They may be newish, but what I found out after posting the above photo of our chips on Twitter earlier was that these are also actually a little bit rare. My first clue was when people kept asking me if I ordered those from Japan. I was just like: "No, dude. They came from Costco. Why?"

Turns out that this has been a very popular Doritos flavor in Japan for years and it's only available on a limited basis in the US. Doritos doesn't even have them listed on their official website. Most people online who seem to have had these found ginormous bags of them at Costco where we found ours, so that would be a good place to look if you want to try some of your own. However, I am unsure as to whether or not your ability to find these might be locational at all. For what it's worth, we live in California where people are very, very into eating sushi, so it's possible Doritos just figured this was a good area to market these.

Some internet stranger's "Americanized" wasabi Doritos
If you're unable to actually find the bag that says "wasabi" on it like mine though, you might not necessarily be shit out of luck. I guess there are also places in the US where these are sold as Mr. Dragon's Fire Chips.

What that's about, I have no idea. All I can figure is that Doritos figured Americans from areas where Japanese food isn't very popular might not know what the hell wasabi is, so they named the chips something else and drew dragons all over the bag to make sure everyone knows how very "Asian" these are. They're apparently the exact same chip though, so if you can't find the one bag, look for the other.

As for how these taste to a big wasabi lover? They're honestly really, really good and actually do taste like real wasabi. They're not horribly spicy or anything at first, but after you eat a bunch of these, you will start feeling the tell-tale wasabi burn up in your sinuses. Keep eating and you'll also start coughing and sniffling as a preponderance of wasabi tends to make you do. In other words, these are the best tortilla chips I've had in a long time. (Thanks, Mom!)

Of course, I'm sure that means I'll never see them again, because that's always what happens when I find some new snack that's the tastiest thing ever. If you get a chance to try any for yourself, definitely give them a whirl. Who knows how long you have before they disappear from American soil never to return.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bacon: It's Not a Religion, People

So the other day, I think I realized something after reading what had to be the trillionth food-related post all about how bacon is pretty much better than sex. This whole bacon craze that's been going on for the past several years straight has finally jumped the shark.

Don't get me wrong! I actually do think bacon is pretty tasty... but really, people. This is starting to get ridiculous. I didn't flinch when I started seeing people on the internet trying to see just how much bacon they can stuff into a sandwich or wrap around other meats before just looking at the finished product is enough to give you a heart attack. I didn't even bat an eye when I first heard about things like chocolate-covered bacon or pastries that contained real bacon crumbles as topping. (In fact, I thought those were pretty damned creative and even potentially nom-worthy.)

When products like bacon mayonnaise, bacon salt, and squeezable bacon came out, I was starting to think things were getting a little ridic, but I also thought "why not". Food companies and product designers have to make a living somehow and adding the word "bacon" to anything seems to be an easy way to rake in the cash. However, when I started seeing stuff like the following making an appearance, I was seriously just like: "Just let it go already!"

This is something called a Bacon Bloody Mary. I'm not a fan of Bloody Marys myself, because I hate tomato juice with the fire of a thousand suns. However, I can certainly appreciate how well they probably go with a nice frittata or a plate of bacon and eggs. What I can't appreciate are the reasons as to why the bacon actually needs to be in the drink like that. I got used to the idea of seeing bacon in baked goods and candy a long time ago. However, I don't think I'll ever be able to see it in a something like a cocktail and feel like it has any business being there.

This is allegedly a colossal BLT, although I see no evidence of either the "L" or the "T" anywhere. I have to hope for the sake of humanity that this sandwich was created as a sort of joke or for shock value, because the idea of anyone actually eating that makes me sick to my stomach. I understood when people were doubling up on the bacon with breakfast "just because" and hitting Wendy's to gobble up treats like that Baconator thing they have on their menu now. This is just sick though. Anyone who would actually, seriously eat this deserves the heart attack and colon cancer they're going to wind up with. No one that stupid deserves to be alive.

I first saw this floating around the internet years ago, but I can't not include it. I think at the time, I thought the bacon mug was actually filled with nacho cheese or something along those lines, which horrified me. I now realize that the mug is apparently filled with beer instead. I'm slightly less disgusted by that idea, but still. Why do we need to drink beer out of mugs literally constructed of bacon? What do you do with it afterwards? Throw it away? As much as I hate the idea of wasting food like that, I really need to believe that you're not expected to actually eat it. Either way, it just seems so unnecessary. 

Here's where I begin to get thoroughly confused, because I feel like I missed a memo that went out to all of humanity a while ago or something. I mean... we are still popping mints into our mouths at random intervals throughout the day to freshen our breath, right? Wouldn't these just make an especially critical mouth odor situation even worse? Maybe these are a shock value product to whip out in front of our friends just so you can laugh at their WTF faces though. Maybe.

But then what would be the reason for this one?? In what way does this not completely defeat the purpose of toothpaste? When I was a kid, I remember using these really sickly sweet, candy-flavored toothpastes once that were apparently created to appeal to children. I don't know if it was just because I was the type of kid that didn't really like sweets that much or what, but just the memory of how un-fresh those things made my mouth feel is enough to make me gag. I can't even imagine what it would be like to voluntarily infuse my mouth with the greasy, salty taste of dead swine. It's even harder to imagine feeling like it's actually clean after that.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bitter Feast: A Grizzly Warning to Us Food Critics?

Joshua Leonard as food critic, J.T. Franks in Bitter Feast
Offline, I've always been a quiet person who doesn't talk very much or freely offer my input on many things, even when asked directly. Some people make the mistake of thinking that it's because I must not have any opinions to share and oh, how wrong they would be. If anything, I have the opposite problem -- too many opinions that are way too strong and (often) also very hard to hear if they happen to take the form of a critique on another person or their work. I eventually learned the hard way that I'm usually going to be better off going along to get along and keeping what I really think about people, issues, and so forth to myself.

Then... the internet happened. All of a sudden I was part of this world that allowed me to keep blogs and social networking accounts where I was completely free to say whatever the hell I wanted and get away with it more often than not. I could express every last one of my opinions if I felt like it. I could tell all sorts of stories and share artwork with what potentially amounts to the entire world. I could critique things like movies, books, or music without having to get anyone's permission to do so first. It's like I was truly free as a writer and as a person for the first time... well... ever! The good side of that is probably obvious. Suddenly I had a place I could completely be myself.  And the bad side? Uh... well... suddenly I had a place I could completely be myself.

J.T. at the point in the film where he's seen better days.
Part of that "self" is, as I've mentioned, a natural critic. Over the years and thanks to the wonders of the internet, I've discovered that there are actually practical uses to which this can trait can be put. I don't do it a lot or anything, but since I started writing professionally, I do occasionally get to collect a paycheck or pick up a few bylines for writing reviews on all sorts of products, media, and services. Quite gratifying! I not only get to express myself, but I'm basically being asked explicitly by whomever to give my unique and honest opinion of whatever I'm reviewing and really... that's something I could do all day long, little narcissist that I can be.


One of the places I regularly get to post reviews is MoreHorror, Seth's wildly popular, awesome-sauce horror movie site to which I regularly contribute reviews and such. He lets me be as snarky and blunt as I want to be when I write. Hell, he even appreciates it, which I really appreciate in return! Naturally, that is how I knew this must be the person for me. Anyone who can not only put up with my mouth and my ego, but also find a way to appreciate them both is a keeper. 

Recently, I had a chance to review a horror movie that was right up my alley. It was called Bitter Feast and it was all about -- you guessed it -- a snark-bag food critic by the name of J.T. Franks with a big mouth and a blog. However, one day he makes a grave mistake in giving a scathing review to the restaurant of a celebrity chef who turns out to also be a raving sociopath. He winds up kidnapped and tortured by way of a number of deceptively mundane cooking challenges as a result. The point? Teaching people like J.T. to check themselves before they wreck themselves when it comes to this wide, wonderful blogosphere where we can say whatever we want about whomever we want. 

Make me a perfect over-easy egg, bitch. NO RUNNY YELLOWS!
Bitter Feast was entertaining to me for all the reasons I just blabbered through above. I'm a critic. When I actually allow myself to really unleash the hounds while I'm writing a critique or giving feedback on something, I have the capacity to be every bit as harsh and dickish as J.T. Franks was in this damned movie when I'm in the wrong mood. Hopefully no one will ever decide to kick my ass for it as thoroughly and literally as J.T. got his kicked, but still. Food for thought, I suppose. There are downsides to living and working in a world where your opinion actually matters to any extent.

I know that anyone reading this is probably a foodie, but if any of you happen to be horror movie fans as well -- especially if you enjoy reviewing restaurants, chefs, or cooking shows as part of your own blogging repertoire -- you might want to give this film a try. It's kind of made for you; not gonna lie. Still not sure if you wanna? Read my Bitter Feast review on MoreHorror and watch the preview, why don't you.