List Item: Try 500 of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Seriously, how am I at my 200th food item already? A slightly obsessive nature combined with a mother and an engagement partner who are more than happy to sample the foods with me usually does the trick. Whilst part of me thought I could engineer an interesting piece of food to become number 200 it just happened by chance to be something I have been interested with for a while. Who knew eh?
With the slightly odd spelling and vibrant red hue the Calabrian spreadable sausage ‘nduja has become the 200th food item that I have tried and been able to document. I have been really looking out for this (only for it to be available on Ocado in a 2 for £5 deal with the Tuscan wild boar salami) because the idea of a spicy spreadable sausage infused with the a lot of smoky taste of peppers really appealed to me.
It did not disappoint since whilst it was warm it was not too spicey, the big feature here was the duration of the afterburn. There was a slightly sour note to this heat as well which reminded me of the taste of gouchujang paste… just without the glossiness and with bits of pork.
This then brings me to the Tuscan wild boar (salami). I honestly think that there are few things I am unlikely to eat if you presented it to me in the form of a salami. This isn’t my first taste of wild boar, that honour belongs to a meal up some Alpine mountain… whose location I can not remember. There was a sweetness and a depth of flavour to this boar salami in comparison to salami I am more used to. If I make a visit to Tuscany I may have to investigate this meat further.
To be honest I would have bought this Spanish paprika for the nice box, the fact that Pimenton de la Vera is a list item is a true bonus. I used it here as a flavour on some sweet potato tots and it really gave them a smoky flavour with a gentle heat. Smoked paprika is one of those spices that I use fairly often, but since this is special I will be saving this so I do not use this up too quickly.
The banana ketchup has been a bit of a crusade of my engagement partner ever since I started this list. The fact that we were able to find it for 99p in my favourite Chinese food store makes me wonder why we had never looked for it there in the first place. In many ways banana ketchup is like tomato ketchup but without the tomato flavour. However, the spices used are slightly more to the taste of the region (with this bottle coming from the Philippines) and the consistency being rather gelatinous. The fact that gram for gram imported banana ketchup costs the same (if not less) than Heinz ketchup still shocks me.
As many people know, just off of Picadilly Circus there is a Japan Centre. This has, therefore become one of my favourite places to browse for food because it means I can just stare at all the sushi I wish I could by. Today was the first time that I actually bought something from there.
Starting off with the unagi. Most people now know the word unagi from Friends when Ross uses it as a word to describe situational awareness when it’s just a Japanese word for freshwater eel. Eel sushi is my favourite type of sushi so I am glad that I am finally able to buy it pre-made. The skin was crispy, the flesh was slightly meaty and slightly fishy with a sweet, rich and creamy taste. The sauce that was used to marinade it… just helped me to remember why I always order unagi if it is on the menu at a Japanese place.
The ika, a Japanese word for squid, was prepared in a way known as ika somen. Basically, it was raw squid that had been cut into something resembling noodles. When eaten by itself the ika was tender yet chewy and had a slightly salty taste. It really came into its own when paired with wasabi… just not too much because that made my nose run (again).
The surprise of the three was the wasabi tobiko. Made of the eggs of the flying fish flavoured (and coloured) with wasabi it makes for a rather nice snack to have by itself or to be simply used as a garnish. The tobiko has no real flavour until you gleefully pop the eggs between your teeth; only then do you get the salty taste followed by the slight heat of the wasabi.
The only reason we even have these desserts is because we needed to make up £5 to use a card when buying the 99p bottle of banana ketchup… so we chose one each.
The black rice mochi with the dessicated coconut covering were my pick. I have always been a fan of these glutinous rice cakes for their sweetness and their chewiness. The fact that there is a Japanese myth of a rabbit in the moon pounding the dough (their version of the man in the moon) made me love this all the more. In terms of texture it really is unlike anything you find in the West.
My engagement partner chose the pandan rice rolls (unaware that he was picking out another list item) for the sheer reason that they caught his eye. Back when we were at Banana Tree I could have crossed off pandan leaves since they were used to flavour the rice. The taste is odd since it has the aromatic, citrus and nutty taste I would normally associate with basmati rice. Still nice cakes though.