Or, It's Like a Party In My Mouth... And Everybody's Throwing Up!
I have, in the past, waxed nostalgic regarding Asian and European sweets and their availability (or lack thereof) in the United States. I miss a lot of those often offbeat treats, and definitely think that the US would be a better place for having more tropical fruit. However, I am definitely convinced that there are a number of confections that will simply never find much of a market here in North America. There's a story to back that up, of course.
A dear friend of mine recently traveled to China, and she brought back an assortment of candy and gave them to me last week. I'm not sure how much she understood about the candy, which is no reflection on her, since all the information on the package was written in Chinese, and while she is fluent in a few languages, it just so happens that Chinese isn't one of them. Her train of thought was basically, "Asian candy... Deb is from Asia and likes candy... I'll give it to her." This is all well and good, for the majority of the candy (coconut milk or tea flavor? yum), but included were some oddities that even I found a trifle offputting.
Meat Candy: I could not get to the website listed on the packaging (the only English writing there, in fact) of this confection, but I was clued into the probability of the content of the candy bag by the picture of an overly perky cow on the front. Meat is a luxury in many parts of Asia, so making a meat-flavored candy makes sense from that perspective, but meat candy is an odd concept to most of the western world (although a lot of people eat jerky, not to mention recent fancy bacon stuffs, which are not far off). While I was somewhat familiar with it, I am very nearly a vegetarian and generally eat white meat if I eat meat at all (mainly at restaurants and other people's houses), so beef candy just did not appeal to me, straight up.
Durian Candy: Durian, nicknamed "the king of fruits", is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing for most people. It's a not-that-bad-but-I'm-really-not-fond-of-it thing for me, primarily because (unlike a lot of westerners) I can handle the smell well enough but I'm just not a fan of the taste or texture of the fruit. Durian is popular enough in Southeast Asia that it has its own sort of subculture, and it's not surprising that people make durian-flavored candy, too.
Anyway, in the spirit of generosity (and, I confess, hilarity), I opted to bring the candies in to work and share them. Cookie Boss, in particular, is quite fond of Japanese food and delicacies, so I thought he'd appreciate a chance to relish some other authentic tidbits of Asian cuisine. I gave him the durian candies (there were four in total), and he tried one after his lunch. Never one to mince words, he responded thus: "It was like somebody punched me in the taste buds with brass knuckles made of horribleness. It tasted like what I would imagine the inside of a toilet in South America would taste like." Likewise not one to let a good opportunity go to waste, he then set about tricking other people into trying them. One of the unlucky victims exclaimed, "It's like a mix of phlegm, vomit, and some other bodily fluids." The other declared, "Like a mix of pineapple and rotten onion," which, by the way, is as good a description of durian flavor as I've ever heard. [My opinion, for the record: "I am not a fan of durian, but come on, it still tastes better than beer!"]
Cookie Boss would not even sample the meat candy, but he got someone else to eat one of them, and that person spit it out and proclaimed it to be nasty, best described as tasting rather like bullion. I kind of thought more people could handle the meat candy, seeing as how most folks in the US eat meat all the time, but I guess the concept was still too extreme.
The moral of the story is, of course, that if Cookie Boss is handing out candy, don't eat it!!