Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Happy on Hypatia Avenue No. 6: Food Nobody Else Likes

I've talked a lot about food one way or another in The Happy series and I have now come to what is a deeply personal and potentially highly controversial entry: the food I like that no one else likes.

Growing up in a traditional Chinese household with non-English speaking parents and the patriarch coincidentally a chef by trade, I have had broad and deep exposure to the extremes of food. Chickens' feet, duck tongues, fish lips (the gills, actually), birds' spit (it's technically a nest but it's a nest made out of spit), dried things ranging from herbs to berries to seahorses (yes! dried seahorses! dried seahorses in a jar that my mother once made into soup!), all sorts of endangered fungi including wood ear, white cloud and the one that looks like black hair pulled from a plughole - nothing much can freak me out. I don't necessarily like all these things but cooked the right way and served in the right circumstances, I have enjoyed some of them enormously.

But these are foodstuffs too exotic and specific to make the list for this entry - and besides, a lot of these things are widely loved and sought after by the Chinese community, so it's more freakish and confessional to say that I, a Chinese person with experience of these things, do NOT like these foods. Instead, the list will be of items widely accessible to British readers and will say a great deal about my eating habits and what I'm likely to hide at the back of the fridge when decent people come to visit.

In no particular order:

Findus Crispy pancakes
Jellied eels (god, I *love* jellied eels)
Potato waffles
Chip shop curry sauce
Tinned chilli con carne (this fills me with shame but I was such a scabby student, I came to cherish this stuff during finals)
Instant mashed potato
Ginsters Cornish pasties
Burnt melted cheese
Cold peas mixed with mayonnaise or creme fraiche
Peanut butter (smooth) and marmalade on cream crackers
Plain cream crackers by the handful
Pickled herrings / rollmops (but oddly, I get very upset if I accidentally eat a fin)
Outlandish flavours of Apericube [link] (but I don't like Dairylea)
Tinned mackerel in mustard sauce
Samosas from the chiller cabinets in dodgy cornershops
Unbelievably smelly, weeping St Agur cheese - it has to ooze to appeal to me
Anchovies, anchovy relish
Tinned okra in tomato sauce
Instant noodles straight out of the packet, without touching any water

There are more but I've got to stop there before I lose all credibility as a foodie.

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