Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Packaged Food from Japan, Taiwan, and England

Mochikichi Beika

No, I normally don't eat much packaged food. But I got a wonderful box of Mochikichi-brand senbei and okaki for Christmas this year, and it was light years beyond that cheap stuff that one usually sees. What's the difference? It's all in the ingredients, including not just the quality of the rice (think: airy and almost creamy!) but also the seasonings. One of my favorites was the oddly-named "salad" flavor, which was really about the delicious salt on it. That plum and sugar one above was also one of the more unique ones. Of course, one pays a price for such quality, but it's worth it.

I can't say the same about this bizarre cheese thing from Taiwan though. Made by a company called Vegenice, it tasted like smoked Hickory Farms cheese, but it had a tough stringy texture (is this perhaps meant to be a vegetarian substitute for dried squid?). I didn't really want to eat any more of this pack, although I will confess that it tasted a lot better when washed down with some beer.


And lastly here's Marmite from England. I've come around to liking Vegemite from Australia, so I figured that I'd probably like this. But it was much more sour and bitter than I was expecting. More importantly, it lacked the anchovy-like umami undertones that I recall Vegemite having. Actually, I liked it much better when I mixed it with boiling water to make a soup (tasted a lot like Brand's Essence of Chicken, in fact). One day I'll have to try that meat-based Bovril, as well as the Kiwi version of Marmite, which apparently tastes different from the English version.

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