Any old time readers remember the Fuming Fuji? He was the lovable yet ornery food critic of early MDA who railed against chocolate milk, cocoa puffs, chicken fries, applesauce (he was seriously biased here), and frozen waffles. He’d get a little carried away, and we eventually had to put him down (ironically, by turning him into applesauce), but his heart was in the right place. Today, I’m paying homage to the Fuming Fuji by having a little fun with some of today’s more absurd food offerings. Then I’ll follow up with some that I’m enjoying these days.
1. Peeled Sumo Mandarins in Shrink Wrap
Whole Foods is a great store. They carry the best brand of mayo, for one. And two, they offer some of the most nutrient-dense food around. But now and then I find myself raising an eyebrow (or two) at something on the shelf.
Last year, they began offering pre-peeled sumo mandarin oranges in plastic shrink wrap. Because mandarin oranges weren’t already expressly bred to be easy-to-peel. Because orange peels weren’t crafted by evolution to protect the delicious interior. Because even if you were able to somehow peel your own orange, what the hell are you going to do with the peel?
2. Fried Gluten with Peanuts
The anti-Primal, fried gluten with peanuts has everything you’re not supposed to eat on strict paleo or Primal:
3. Gluten-Free Water
The best satire is indistinguishable from reality. I’m pretty sure that Clara Gluten-Free Water is a real brand whose earnest mission is to give you “peace of mind throughout the day,” but boy is it tough to tell from the “portraits” of the water to their commitment to a diverse customer base (intended for anyone “at a vipassana retreat or simply working as an account manager at an award-winning boutique ad agency”) to the odd phrases they coin (“lifestyle-oriented individual”).
4. The Juicero
Ah, how I love the hubris on display when Silicon Valley tries entering the food space. From Soylent diarrhea to shmeat to disappointing vegan “mayo,” it rarely goes right. The Juicero is another example.
A $700 juicer that used proprietary packets of fresh produce, like a Keurig coffee maker only for kale juice, the Juicero just never made sense to me. How could such a set-up—shipping refrigerated single-serving produce packs—work?
It hasn’t. The company just announced they’re pulling out and issuing refunds for the Juicero.
5. Unicorn Froot Loops
I just don’t understand the “unicornization” of foods. What makes Unicorn Froot Loops unicorn Froot loops? I assumed they would have severed cereal horse heads with horns interspersed with the loops, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. They’re just different colored loops. There’s a unicorn on the box. Is that it?
Do kids really like unicorns so much that they’ll clamor for Unicorn Froot Loops? Is there a huge demand for unicorn-themed foods? Sure, put enough sugar in it and they’ll eat it, but what specifically about the unicorn is drawing people in?
Maybe if these were made of real unicorn meal, I’d sing a different tune. That’d be a healthy high-protein breakfast. I imagine magical beast flesh has plenty of undiscovered micronutrients, too. Oh well.
6. Yoni Beer
It was inevitable, in hindsight. Of course they were going to make beer using vaginal bacteria. I’m actually surprised it took this long. After all, “The secret of the beer lies in her vagina.” You get this message in fortune cookies, for crying out loud.
Look, I’m not going to disparage reproductive organs. But, well, the vagina a person chooses to consort with is a personal decision. I don’t just want any vagina’s lactic bacteria in my beer.
Then there’s the inevitable question I’m sure we’re all wondering right now: when’s the male version coming out—and will it derive active cultures from smegma? How long do we seriously have to wait?
But enough negativity. What do I love?
1. Turkey Legs at Disneyland
My kids are grown. I have no real reason to brave the crowds and visit Disneyland. And the product I’m about to recommend isn’t good enough to get me to go anymore. But when I did go, when my kids were of age and I did go to Disneyland, the turkey legs were a lifesaver. I still think about them.
There’s no gussying it up: It’s just a big tender smoked turkey leg. For about $9, you get around a pound of meat and sinew and tendon and gelatinous unctuousness. I’ll happily wait in line for Star Tours if I’ve got a turkey leg to gnaw on.
2. The SousVide+
Mike and Mary Dan Eades are good friends of mine, so when they asked me to highlight their upcoming SousVide+ I was more than happy to do it. Then I got to try the thing, and came away even more enthusiastic.
3. Chili Peppers
The farmer’s market has been great for fresh chilis lately. I’m loving fresno and serrano chilis, or any chili with moderately high heat that retains its fruitiness. There’s even a stand that sells Thai chilis on the vine. Just look around at your local market, as there are many different types. Ask to try them! I keep a tupperware container full of chopped chilis, garlic, shallots, and ginger that I can quickly add to stir fries without messing up a cutting board or getting hot chili residue all over my hands.
I’m also really into dried ancho chilis, which I eat like fruit bark. Seriously. Try it. I got the idea after listening to a podcast episode of “Conversations with Tyler” with Mark Miller, where they do a dry chile tasting and discuss how to choose dried chilis. Even better is a handful of dried ancho chili strips mixed with beef jerky.
On the powder front, chipotle chili powder is essential. Mix it with cumin and garlic powder for an incredible addition to any meat dish.
4. Wide Mouth Canning Jars
I’ve been pickling a fair bit of produce. Stuff like sauerkraut and kimchi, while delicious and not that hard, still take a bit more effort than I’m willing to expend these days. Plus, you have to worry about keeping torn up cabbage that loves to float submerged under the brine. It’s a big headache.
Instead, I’ve been pickling whole garlic cloves (I just get the big bag of organic peeled cloves from Costco), various spices like ginger and turmeric, small onions and shallots, and all the chili peppers I just mentioned. It’s great. Add the produce to the wide mouth canning jar, fill with salty brine (teaspoon of salt per cup of water or thereabouts), and wait for bubbles to start appearing. The relative density of the ingredients means keeping them submerged is simple. Sometimes I’ll spruce it up with a few dashes of fish sauce, or maybe a layer of olive oil at the top.
5. Short Rib “Steaks”
My new favorite “steak” is the short rib. Not the Korean cut with the little bone islands dispersed throughout, though that’s great, too. I prefer the English cut with the whole rib bone. To get a “steak,” I use a sharp knife to separate the meat from the bone. I season the meat with salt and pepper, throw it in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 270°, then sear it over high heat for a minute on each side. Even better—you can reserve the bone for soup.
That’s it for today, everyone. Do you have any personal favorites (or absurd discoveries) to add? Share ’em on the board, and have a great week.