I think it is a familiar situation for most of us when we talk enthusiastically about our favourite local specialties with friends from other countries, but their reactions, instead of mirrorring our eagerness, are those of horror or disgust. Or at least raised eyebrows. I had this experience when trying to describe Túró Rudi, an iconic Hungarian treat (cottage cheese roll covered in chocolate), so I didn’t dare to move on to explain „fatty dough”to them (a famous Hungarian type of pastry-base made with pure pork fat). I also understand that the chocolate dessert called „Cat’s tongue” is not very appetizing for foreigners either…but maybe I should have tried to discuss all these with a Japanese person. NOTHING is too strange for them. Let’s see how weird the Japanese can get, by listing a couple of their creepiest snacks and drinks!
- Chiizu Yuzu Tea
Yes, the Japanese have come up with drinkable cheese. It is a great undertaking, since the Japanese are not very keen on eating cheese whatsoever. However, apparently there is a niche market. The actual drink is sold in a cup and it is real, flavoured tea, with some foam-like cheesy substance on top-the uniqueness of the experience derives from sipping tea through this cheese-cap. Try it if you dare…
- Unagi Nobori
Fizzy drinks, just as in Hungary and all over Europe, are a big hit with most people in Japan. They like coke the best (and especially the Coca Cola brand), but again they are pushing the limits: they have invented a soda brand which tastes like EELS. Yes, you are right: the fish! The name itself means „Rising eel” which has a very positive connotation in Japanese culture: people who suddenly get extremely rich or their status rises quickly are called unagi nobori in the proverb, as the eel always moves up, when slipping through the fingers. Never mind the money, I still won’t drink eel coke.
- Horse flavoured ice cream
HORSE. It’s downright creepy, isn’t it? Why would anyone make an ice cream that tastes like raw horsemeat?! But the list of whacko ice cream treats is almost endless: you can taste boiled eggs, pickles, eggplant, and the bad-smelling natto (fermented soy beans) in your ice cream…However, we also have to add that these are more like novelties in Japan, too, and the average Japanese person likes vanilla ice cream and Hagen Dazs the best. Horse ice cream is a joke. And a bad one at that.
+1. Otoku Karou
This one is not real food, but a brand of chewing gum. Probably the most peculiar one in the world. This product promises that the consumer’s perspiration, having chewed it, will smell like roses…again: why would anyone invent such a thing. Nevertheless, after some consideration I realized that this is probably the only one of the weird snacks that has a practical purpose: itreally does matter how you smell when travelling on the overcrowdded subway trains and buses of Japan…the name itself is bizarre, though: „The men who smells nice”.
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