Sunday, December 23, 2007


I love sampling snacks from other cultures. Not only is the yummy factor high, but snacks are usually indicative of their place of origin, which is attractive to a geek like me. For example, contrast British high tea with Chinese dim sum. So similar and yet just not.

Some of the oddest snacks I've ever had were in Mongolia. Fermented mare's milk and fermented bean curd snacks were everywhere. The fermented part comes from the lack of refrigeration in huge parts of the country, but when your snacks taste like rot I'm not sure that says good things about your nation.

Much as I try, I can't get everywhere, so I always beg friends to bring me back snacks from their travels. Despite the stairs incident, the man vomiting on the edge of death on the plane, and the earthquake, Sunny still managed to bring me back some good stuff from her disastrous trip to the Caribbean. Witness the two examples below.

guava cheeseSugar cakes and guava cheese. I admired them for well over a week, letting the excitement about tasting them build. As you can probably see for yourself, the sugar cake looked like a muffin, and the guava cheese was the farthest thing from cheese, looking and feeling more like a gargantuan gummy bear squashed flat by a steamroller.

Even more perplexing though was the taste. Sugar led the ingredient list on each one, so I had prepared myself for sweet, but dang! After eating half of the sugar cake, I was talking at ridiculous speeds, causing people at work to stare at me kinda funny.

So what's the deal with this emphasis on sugar anyway? Part of me thinks this is a technique for staying active in high temperatures. Perhaps I should test this theory by eating some of this stuff, then partaking in some more hot yoga. Do you think the sugar in my sweat would pass the crazy people's scent-free sniff test?

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