Friday, April 19, 2013

Call me Scheherazade: 1,000 Snackreligious Nights (and posts).

Snack Jail

I started this blog (my first) in 2008 with a photo-less post about an inspiring chocolate chip cookie. The cookies at Paradis have varied widely in quality since then (seriously, they're overcooked more often than not, and I don't buy them much anymore), as have my posts here. Nearly five years later, after adding a lot more words (poetry, lists, experiments, and more) and photos -- and after the gift of a site redesign by my talented husband, I've found myself thrilled and alarmed to be writing my 1,000th post.

Frankly, I thought I would get to this milestone faster, but pregnancy and motherhood conspired to interrupt my flow starting in mid-2010. One of my goals continues to be more and better posting, but life gets in the way. Rest assured I keep eating between the lines.

I've read a lot of criticism of blogs in the past few years, and much of it rings true to me. I'm not sure why I still want to write here, but I do. I'm not trying to set the world on fire with this site. I'm not in it for the free stuff (I find so many of the emails I get from PR reps ridiculous that I normally just delete them). I can't imagine most people "out there" care even one little bit what I'm snacking on. But that's sort of freeing, in that there also aren't many people tracking my missteps and dropped threads. And even when I've been gone for months, I'm always happy to get another post up. I enjoy sharing these moments with you -- with anyone who might be reading.

Ah! I'm wandering away from my anniversary celebration! Sorry. I do tend to dither.

To set this 1,000th post apart, I wanted to do something a little special (ill-advised, even). So I decided to clear out my Snack Jail and start fresh - with y'all as my witnesses. If you're new to this site, you may not realize that I have a glass-walled cube container of old, odd, special, scary, and otherwise uneaten snacks sitting in my kitchen. This is the Snack Jail. Occasionally it spills over into surrounding containers, as it has been doing for months. It's really out of control (see photo above, taken immediately before typing this post). It's getting harder and harder to hide it from my toddler (may he never eat so poorly).

So, this weekend, I am going to go through everything in Snack Jail, take pictures (of the good, the bad, and the embarrassing), chronicle it all here, and eat what I can. As a nod to the unnecessary "live-blogging" of non-events, I will be updating this post each time I tackle an inmate (or cell block). Follow along below as I embark on a dangerous mission. Refresh when you're feeling hungry. Try not to start any riots. I'll let you know when I'm done.

1,000 posts down, and I'm starting again. I joined a new CSA for 2013, I got my kid into daycare, and I have a phone that takes prettier photos when I use it right. Hopefully the few readers I have left will benefit from all these things. And don't worry that I've run out of material. No doubt Snack Jail will see new prisoners enter as early as next week, some of whom will show up here and some of whom will be relegated to Tumblr coverage, but for now it's a clean slate.

Call it a stomachache in the making. Call it spring cleaning. Call it amnesty for all!


Spree (Friday 6:44 PM)
New to Snack Jail, this is leftover Easter candy. The only thing I like better than Spree is Chewy Spree. I'm happy to start here.

2-3 2-3

Fry's Turkish Delight (Saturday, 12:19 PM)
Oh good.  It hasn't expired yet. That was sarcasm. I already know I don't like Turkish Delight. Let's get this out of the way.  The chocolate on the outside is fine. For a second, I think there might be coconut inside, and I'm excited. Then it's a mouthful of tough, floral-tasting jelly. No thanks. The corners are the best, as they are more chocolate and less filling. Otherwise, it's just not for me. And this is by Cadbury? What a letdown.


Sal Y Limon Fritos (Saturday, 12:27 PM)
I think this bag of Fritos is about a year old. That's the last time we were in Mexico. The bag is pretty dusty. The Fritos inside aren't bad. I can't tell if I'm imagining a slightly dusty flavor. They certainly aren't stale in terms of their texture; they are plenty crunchy. Maybe there's an aftertaste of old. I am pretty sure I can eat this whole bag, though. The lime is artificial, but not unpleasant. It's bright and sharp in a way I enjoy. I'm just realizing how salty these are. I'm going through about 25 oz. of water while eating this 65 gram bag.

I've only been to Mexico twice, but I really enjoyed lime-flavored snack foods both times. The first trip, we found a spicy lime microwave popcorn that was divine. I feel like this is an underutilized flavor combination in the US.

4-5 4-5

Nestle Walnut Whip (Saturday, 12:50 PM)
I think Dan got this for me the last time he was in London. Let's just say I don't remember exactly when that was. The Walnut Whip looks like a small chocolate volcano with a walnut on top. It seems easiest to bite off the walnut tip first. Tastes good. Inside is some sort of white filling. Looks like marshmallow creme. Yep. It's marshmallow creme. I like this Walnut Whip. I like it very much. Now, can anyone explain why it is shaped like a volcano? No time to Google!

p.s. My tongue kind of hurts. I think it was the lime and salt Fritos.

What's this, then? Mystery Snack #1! (Saturday, 12:58 PM)
There's no English on the package.
Whaddya know? It's crackers! But, on tasting them, I've changed my mind. They're both salty and sweet. I think these are actually slightly salty butter cookies. They don't smell great, but they taste pretty good. I think they're just past their prime. Give me a new package and I'd eat them all happily. They're thin and crisp, and taste a bit like Girl Scout Shortbread. I'm sorry I let this one languish. Could've been so beautiful.

6 6
Mystery Snack #2! (Saturday, 1:16 PM)
Oh, dear. It's a cookie in a slightly translucent waxed paper bag. I have never seen this before in my life. It's as hard as peanut brittle, but crumbly. It tastes like granulated sugar. That is all. Goodbye.


Cadbury Buttons (Saturday, 1:33 PM)
Thank you, Cadbury. Bless your little penguin hearts. White chocolate buttons were just what I needed after that. They taste like white chocolate. Nothing more. They do not taste old. I am thrilled. That said, this seems more like something I'd cook with, and less like a snack.

Update: Dan thinks Mystery Snack #2 is a Texas praline we got for Christmas that I forgot to eat.


Sack of Easter Candy (Saturday, 2:16 PM)
This is the rest of the Easter candy Sebastian received at Sunday School this year (the Spree, above, was also from this assortment), contained in 3 plastic eggs. I figured it best to tackle all of this at once:
* Wonka Bottle Caps - I remember these fondly from my childhood. A little chalky, a little soda fizz flavor, a little tangy. I like the way they sort of melt into powder as they're chewed. Here, I had orange (mild), pink (more sour/my favorite), and purple (not unlike grape). I saved the second packet for Dan. These candies are fresh enough I don't want to hog them.
* Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs - already a big fan. The peanut butter to chocolate ratio is perfect for me -- a lot more of the former than the latter. I think I like these better than the cups. Too bad they're seasonal.
* Nestle Butterfinger Eggs - I am curious because two of these have gold foil, and one is more orange. Then I accidentally mixed them up after unwrapping them. But it doesn't matter, because they taste exactly the same. I am extremely underwhelmed. Too much chocolate. Not enough Butterfinger. They're barely crispy and uninspiring in flavor.
* Jelly beans - I don't know how many of these I can eat. I don't usually like jelly beans, though I find some Jelly Belly flavors interesting. I've heard there are some good "natural" jelly bean options. I don't know what brand these particular ones are, and they're not bad, but I'm just not a fan. Citrus flavors and cinnamon are my "favorite flavors," if you can call them that. I'm pretty unenthusiastic about them.


Stretch Island Fruit Co. Fruit Leather in Ripened Raspberry (Saturday, 6:50 PM)
I like fruit leather. This company makes pretty good fruit leather. This particular piece of fruit leather is extra-leathery, but that's the fault of Snack Jail, not the good people of Stretch Island.


Amella Cocoa Butter Caramels - Carrot Cake (Saturday, 6:56 PM)
"Fresh carrots, pure cocoa butter, no preservatives." Sounds good to me. You know what? These are good. They're rich and complex, with a real carrot cake flavor and a hint of caramel. I like the white chocolate on the outside, too. It's all a package I wouldn't have imagined going well together, but it really works.


McIlhenny Co. Tabasco Brand Spicy Chocolate (Saturday, 7:02 PM)
This could be really good or really gross. I love Tabasco, and I enjoy spicy chocolate. Let's see... It's nice, folks! The spice starts shortly after my first bite, and builds as I chew. Even so, it never gets to a painful level. The chocolate tastes slightly dark, but isn't bitter. A small piece satisfies.


Tcho chocolates in "Chocolatey" and "Citrus." (Sunday, 8:30 PM)
I think these came from a fancy hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, where we were lucky enough to stay when Dan had a speaking engagement and gallery show in town. Tcho is a San Francisco chocolate company, and this card shows their "color wheel" of 6 different flavors. On the back, however, only 4 flavors are listed (omitting "earthy" and "floral"). I don't know much about single origin chocolates, but it is suggested I will find these taste as follows:

*"Chocolate" (Ghana) Intense fudgy flavor with undertones of raisin and coffee, hints of malt and a lingering caramel finish.

In reality, I find this chocolate to have an extremely pleasant, deep chocolate scent. There is no "bloom" on the piece, despite its age. I do agree the flavor is intense, and I get the coffee and caramel finish. There is a surface sweetness, too, that may be the raisin. Perhaps malt at the end. This has aged really well.

*"Citrus" (Madagascar) A delicate cocoa note that evolves into a subtle citrusy zing and ends with a light, smooth cream finish.

I don't smell any citrus, only chocolate. It is lighter than the previous piece, and it doesn't reveal the citrus note until it has almost completely melted in my mouth (as I chew it). I'm not sure I believe that a "zing" can be subtle. I don't taste citrus or cream, particularly, but the finish is smooth in an unusual way.


McIlhenny Co. Tabasco Brand Jelly Belly Jelly Beans (Sunday, 8:48 PM)
Woo! Spicy. I can't process this. It's weirding me out, man.

16-17 16-17

Rebuçados S. Xavier Mentol E Eucalipto com Limão (Sunday, 8:56 PM)
I don't speak Portuguese, but it seems this means Saint Xavier drops - Menthol, eucalyptus, and lemon. I'm not entirely sure whether these are cough drops or candies. Anyway, time for a palate cleanser! The menthol definitely makes them taste like lemon cough drops. Sweet, not tart. I guess that's what this guy was into? They're not bad, if you're in the mood for menthol.


Tootsie Fruit Roll in Vanilla (Sunday, 9:12 PM)
I don't personally consider "vanilla" to be a flavor of fruit, but perhaps that's just me. This Tootsie roll tastes like birthday cake frosting. As I chew it, I sort of also get "spice cake." I think they should call this a Tootsie Cake Roll. No, that's my idea. Hands off the Cake Roll, Tootsie!

Mystery Snack #3! (Sunday, 9:15 PM)
This is a chocolate with its foil designed to make it resemble a Christmas ball. It's a little crispy on the inside. Standard stuff. Not bad.

Dubble Bubble Original  Flavor Bubble Gum (Sunday, 9:17 PM)
Super-hard. Yeowch. This has gotta be old. Gonna take a fair amount of saliva to bring it into a ball of gum. Ooh. Now it tastes weird. You know that weird, cheap gum flavor. Okay. Now it tastes a little better. But there's still an undercurrent of Band-Aid. Just a touch. I thought I was going to have to spit it out for a moment, but it turned out to be okay. Bubbles blown. No problem. Nothing "double," about this, though. Maybe that's why they spelled it "dubble?" It's 9:20 now and the flavor is almost all gone. 9:21. That's it. Dubble done.

Green Apple Frootie, by Tootsie Roll (Sunday, 9:22 PM)
Artificially flavored, says the packaging, but I don't really mind artificial green apple. This has it layered over another taste, though. It's the tootsie roll base, but less chocolate. Meh.

Mystery Snack #4! (Sunday, 9:23 PM)
I'm not sure if this was from Molly and David two Christmases ago, or more recent. I thought it would be hard as a rock, but it's edible. It might be a homemade caramel, but it tastes more like chocolate and toffee. It's also kind of like gingerbread fudge, which isn't a terrible idea. If this is two years old, I'll be amazed.

-- Interlude, during which I take a much-needed asparagus break. --


Cellar Door Sea Salt Almond Bark (Sunday, 9:45 PM)
We bought these chocolates in Kentucky in 2010, meaning to give them to family or friends as Christmas presents. Clearly, that didn't happen. This almond bark looks a lot worse for the time that's passed, but I'm hoping it doesn't taste too stale. . . Nutty. Salty. Decent. Delicious, even. It's enough to make a girl want to go back to Louisville.

Cellar Door "Olives" - White Chocolate Covered Almonds (Sunday, 9:55 PM)
The white chocolate coating on these reminds me of something I can't quite place. It's thick and just slightly crispy on the outside. There's an odd flavor in between the white chocolate and the almond, too. I wish I knew if that's due to the food coloring or the accidental aging process these have undergone.


Mystery Snack #5! from CHANCE
(Sunday, 10:10 PM)
This little packet made from graph paper has a stamp on it from the USSR. It's marked as being from a store called CHANCE (211 Elizabeth Street, NYC). It looks on the internet like that was a pop-up shop two years ago. Any chance it's still open? Inside, an inedible-looking piece of saltwater taffy, branded "Taffy Town," awaits me. I have to keep reminding myself that I did this to myself.  It's pretty hard and crumbly, then sticky, then peppermint and chewy. Tastes like corn syrup, I guess.  I don't think I'll finish this one.

Mystery Snack #6 (Sunday, 10:12 PM)
A cute little corn-shaped chocolate! Smells like hot cocoa. Tastes old. It's clumpy in my mouth. Sensing a theme? The deeper we go into Snack Jail, the more institutional problems we discover. Wah.

"Big Ring" Gummy Lifesaver (10:19)
Smells like nothing. Tastes like licorice? Covered in sugar, like a Sour Patch Kid. Not sour. Not very gummy anymore. I wonder what flavor this used to be.

East Dignity (10:20)
There are actually two of these. I think the rest of the writing on the package is in Chinese. The pattern on the wrapping looks like nuts or coffee beans. Unwrapped, it's a bite-sized chocolate. Chewed, it tastes a lot like the corn-shaped chocolate mentioned above. Maybe slightly better, but not good. No nuts in evidence.

-- Pause to drink Mango Kefir. -- 

Hershey's Kiss with "Truffle" written on the flag (Sunday, 10:24)
Please taste good, please taste good. . . Nope. Also crumbly. Does taste like richer chocolate, but in a bad way. Still flat and artificial at the center. Cheap chocolate does NOT age well.

Maoam in Lemon/Lime (Sunday, 10:27)
Inside this package are 4 individually wrapped ingots of Maom. They smell mildly of eraser. On the tongue, lemon. Quite hard and chewy. Resistant. I am, however, relieved to find they are not terrible. Still, I think I'll just eat the one. They're a little reminiscent of cleaning supplies.

Olsen Olsen (Sunday, 10:29)
Okay, now I'm sad. Dan gave me this, probably for Christmas 2011. It's from Reykjavik. I was really excited to eat it, but I waited for the "right occasion," and then forgot. I bet it was good back then. Here we go. Inside: a bar of chocolate that resembles a shorter, single Twix bar (but with a smooth top). Biting into it, I'm confused. It does not taste bad, or particularly old. But it has what seems like a thin layer of jellied licorice running through the middle of it. I'm not a big licorice fan, but this is intriguing. I'm driven to Google. It does contain licorice -- and chocolate and caramel! Weird. But, at long last, not weird-bad. I know things are dire when I'm relieved to be eating licorice.


Mystery Snack #7! (Sunday, 10:58 PM)
This pineapple something was produced by Beijing's East Dignity Food Co., LTD. Looks like a giant, hard, barrel-shaped gumdrop. I do NOT like the texture. It's both gummy and resistant. There is no flavor.

Mystery Snack #8 (Sunday, 11:00 PM)
Again, no English on the package. OMG. Unwrapped, it looks like partially-chewed Big League Chew or a ham-shaped brain. I am not eating this. Smells like sugar, BTW.

Partial-Mystery Gum (Sunday, 11:04 PM).
Most of the wrapper is missing. It reads, "Ext IC," so I'm thinking Wrigley's Extra Ice. This flavor starts out as burn-y, but quickly fades to refreshing. No biggie. What a relief. I'm fading, everyone.

Permen Sari Asam Tamarin (Sunday, 11:10 PM)
This tamarind candy hails from Indonesia. I have had tamarind candy before. My mouth is a blur and I do not remember what it tasted like. When I attempt to open this package, everything is sticky and smells like earwax. That's enough, right?

Roll of (American) Smarties (Sunday, 11:12 PM)
I am so relieved. They are perfect.

-- Interlude in which I put the kid back to sleep and inadvertently fall asleep myself --

Three Cinnamon Tic Tacs (Monday, 7:19 AM)
Underneath the cinnamon is a strong flavor that is more like an Altoid. Perhaps these have reached their radioactive half-life.


Snack Jail is still nearly full, and I feel a smidgen ill. I'm going to take a break, and then I'll start a new post when I get back to the business of emptying it out.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Well-Traveled Tongue.

Oog, these photos are blurry. I blame Blogpress. I am in formatting hell.

One of my coworkers vacationed in London last week. Like a total doll, he brought us back a bag of Cadbury sweets from Duty Free in Heathrow Airport.

Have you had this experience? When a coworker shares assorted treats with the office, I have to reign in my gotta-catch-em-all mentality. I'm a collector of tastes, and I like to try EVERYTHING. I can't count the number of parties where that has been my goal at the buffet (forget small talk). I also like to flip through every channel on the television before choosing a show (which is why we don't have cable) and at least glance at every single shoe at DSW before I exit. But these candies were for the group, and there are a number of us, so I held back and just tried a few varieties. I didn't take a Twirl or an Eclair or a . . .

Maybe I should go back to see if there are still some that need to be eaten.

But enough about me.


Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel: The chocolate didn't taste like anything particularly special, and the caramel was absolutely liquid and drippy, but there was a depth of flavor to the caramel that one doesn't always find in modern, mass-marketed chocolates.

Cadbury Fudge: The fudge filling neither looked nor tasted much like fudge. The filling was light brown and almost granular. When chewed, the consistency was that of a moist candy corn. It seemed too sweet to me (not that fudge isn't sweet), too, and nowhere near rich or chocolate-y enough. I thought this was kind of a dud.

Cadbury Creme Egg Twisted: Many have said it before me, but the fact that we (in the USA) cannot get Cadbury Creme Eggs year round should embarrass every citizen of this country. Show me the government agency hiding our eggs until Easter. I'll fight 'em! That stated, this small bite didn't really work for me. It was too flimsy for the goopy filling inside, gone too quickly, and though it coated the inside of my mouth it didn't really satisfy.

Calling this a "Travel Mix" is kind of funny. I can't imagine how ill even I would feel after sitting on an airplane for several hours eating my way through the entire package. It's no trail mix, that's for sure. But these three bites were a pretty good way to start my work day.

N.B. Hey! this was my 999th blog post on Snackreligious. Stay tuned for a super-epic 1,000th post in which I do something ill-advised and possibly gross!


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