Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It Came From Chinatown: Duo Edition

Last week, I got my ass handed to me by a spiny, so-called fruit (really an alien egg from the Gross Nebula) known throughout Chinatown as the durian. It was easily one of the worst things to happen to anyone ever in recorded history and I'm seriously considering a lawsuit against Mother Nature due to the amount of mental anguish and emotional turmoil my eating it has caused. Also, it stole my identity and bounced a lot of checks in my name and I think it was involved in a hit-and-run! It was one bad fruit, I tell ya!!!

Um, yeah... anyway... this week, we aimed to step it up a notch. It was decided that I would take on a tag-team of tasty treats in a special edition of ICFC... the Duo Edition... and hey, far be it from me to keep you good people waiting. Kids, I give you...

Nutritional Preserved Vegetable Filaments:


Confucius Family Liquor:

That's right. Liquor! But more on that in a minute. Let's first start off with the fabulously "Mr. Sparkle"-packaged Preserved Vegetable whatevers. Okay, so here's one thing that I've learned during the course of this project: If they don't let you actually see the product before you've purchased it and are about to put it in your face, it's probably going to be evil and offensive to the eye, nose, and tongue. Particularly, and this is key, if it's only described with a vague term like "vegetable." What vegetable? The package certainly isn't telling. And the "preserved" part of it's description isn't doing anything for my confidence levels, either. Preserved, to we Americans, brings to mind jellies and canned tomatoes and other delicious, harvest-y goods that sit on your grandmother's shelf in a homey basement until the Winter months roll along. To the Eastern cultures, preserved often means "things buried in the ground for a 1000 years," or "caked in salt for a fortnight" or even "left to rot for so long that it comes all the way back around to edible again." Given this evidence (or lack thereof), I can only assume that this part of the duo is going to suck, hard, and with an epic intensity reserved for earthquakes.

But that's okay, because I've got liquor! Lovely, lovely, liquor. Sure, it's from a foreign country and, sure it comes in a jar that's a little more... oh... let's say "rustic" than I'm entirely comfortable with (something about booze served in ceramic makes me nervous; I don't know why). No matter. Booze transcends national boundaries with a global handshake and a warm, smiling "Hello, my brother from another mother," spoken in all the languages of the multi-culti rainbow. Plus, hey, apparently Confucius used to get down with this stuff and he was no dummy. If it's cool with a legendary philosopher, then who am I to argue.

I laid out the duo before me, a meal at the ready:

First impressions: Neither of the items smell very good. They're not durian-bad (nothing in the world will ever be durian-bad, save for other durians), but they don't exactly favor a beautiful girl's perfume or a freshly grilled steak. The Preserved Vegetables smell earthy, rich, and quite frankly a little spoiled and moldy. If you were to inhale deeply next to your average, commune-dwelling vegan... totally the smell of Nutritional Preserved Vegetable Filaments. The hooch, on the other hand, smelled like the kind of medicine you'd give to a dying man as a last ditch effort mixed with whatever the fuel is that you use to fill up Zippo lighters.

First, the veggies:

Um... even after looking at them and poking them with my spoon and praying for guidance from the Baby Jesus, honestly kids, I have no idea what the fuck it is that I'm about to eat. I get why they just said "vegetables" on the packaging; the manufacturers probably have no fucking clue either. The nearest I can guess, it's some sort of turnip. And it does not taste good:

Salty... powerfully so. All the salt in the ocean, packed into a slick, crunchy, mysterious veggie stick that smells like grave dirt and made my tongue tingle like a jalapeno, but not spicy. Seriously, I have no idea. I don't know what it is, what it's used for, why anyone in their right mind would eat it, or if I maybe, possibly, just ate something that was intended for placement around the border of a garden to scare away rats. Given that it has the word "nutritional" in it's name, I assume it's supposed to be good for you, but I don't think that's accurate... eating one spoonful of Nutritional Preserved Vegetable Filaments easily took off six-to-twelve months off my life.

But that's groovy, man. No big whoop. Because now it's the booze's time to shine! Cheers, you magnificent bastards:

As I've said in the past, I'm an old hand with liquor. We're on friendly terms, generally speaking, and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that I know my way around the business end of many a different bottle. When it comes to booze, I'm on top of shit like quarterback winning the big game. Which is how I knew, as I popped it back, that I was totally fucked:

It was like drinking gasoline:

Yes, that's drool.
As soon as the shot went down my gullet, my whole body revolted, twitched, and went into panic mode like a submarine with a breached hull. I gagged, tears welled up, and my salivary glands freaked out, flooding my mouth with what I can only assume was intended to be a protective layer of spit. Now, I'd noticed beforehand that this booze was about 40% alcohol; 80 proof, in other words, which is about the same as Jack Daniels. I'm fairly certain, however, that this is a big, fat, Chinese lie. There's no doubt in my mind that Confucius Family Liquor is moonshine, fresh from the ramshackle still of some toothless Appalachian. It left a burning in my chest that felt like a napalm supernova that has been forgotten in the back seat of a hot car during a heatwave. The car is also on fire.
Because I'm a responsible reporter hell-bent on getting the story at any cost (or I'm out of my fucking mind), I took another small sip, just be sure that it was in fact intestines-dissolving grain alcohol and also to take note of any lingering flavors that might have escaped the Satanic distillation process. I found that, when it's not slammed back like I'm at Senor Frogs during Spring Break, it's actually... well, still pretty terrible... but there is a little more depth than I had previously thought. The liquor is somewhat fruity, with a slight taste of grapes to it, which is extremely odd given that the ingredients on the bottle are listed as "sorghum, wheat, barley and peas (blech)." I guess the fermentation process brings out the fruitiness... or something... I don't know. Look, it was strong and clear and it made me sweat like the math portion of the SATs; beyond that, there's little else that I can tell you.
So what have we learned? Well, for starters, I think it's clear that I've got as Western a palate as you're going to find outside of a Luby's Cafeteria. I thought I was a bold, adventurous eater, but I'm slowly realizing that all I want is a double bacon cheeseburger and a Dr. Pepper, thanks (not that this is going to stop me from continuing my ICFC journey, but still). Mostly, however, I discovered that immediately after eating hatefully preserved vegetables and booze that's actually the blood from the creature in Alien, I, for the next three hours, will make a face like this:

It's like I've looked into the abyss, only to find that the abyss has looked back into me. Haunted, hunted, afraid of the shadows and the things they conceal, lost in the labyrinth that is my own mind. Frankly, I can't think of a better description for the aftereffects of It Came From Chinatown...
See y'all next week!!!


Blogger The Dutchess of Kickball said...

OMG look how flushed you got after that drink!

9:51 AM  
Blogger Sally Tomato said...

Holy shit! Look at today's M.U.G.: http://www.manhattanusersguide.com/todays.php

I love the title: "What Died?"

10:08 AM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

I can’t help but think after an installment of ICFC that next sequential post will be “Clinton Gets His Stomach Pumped” or perhaps “Clinton Goes To The Emergency Room.” Do the peddlers in Chinatown who sell you this stuff ask you to sign a waiver?

Also, Jinx, as we both mentioned “Senor Frogs” in our posts today. Which, come to think of it, is a really random coincidence.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Dutchess... Oh yes. It totally caught me by surprise. I don't know what I was expecting, exactly, but certainly not jet fuel.

Sally... Ha! I'm so a pioneer.

Digital... No waivers, but only because all this stuff is technically edible. Technically, though I can only assume not strictly recommend. Also, yeah weird about the Senor Frogs... particularly since I originaly had it as a Cabo Wabo Cantina reference and changed it at the last minute. Freaky-deaky.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Cubicle-Mate Andrew said...

Clinton has personally asked me to blow up Chinatown if something were to happen to him as a result of this inedible food he puts down his mouth for ICFC, and as much as I love duck and boneless ribs, I cannot deny him his last wish. So fear not my fellow ZFS fans - his legacy will live on even in death!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

(sigh) My hero!!!

10:59 AM  
Blogger brookLyn gaL said...

I'm sensing a correlation between you being sick lately and the start of ICFC.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Thanks Clint, I just got fired for laughing hysterically for ten minutes. Now I might have to move to Chinatown to make ends meet.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Brooklyn... Nah, I'm sick all the time because I don't take care of myself. ICFC is a correlation of *that*.

David... Sorry, dude. But I think they need some guys to stand around and hose off the buckets filled with baby turtles.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Irish and Jew said...

Awesome! This was a great edish of ICFCT :)


2:05 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Thanks! But I have a feeling that you're just saying that because it was about booze.

(ya drunk)

2:16 PM  
Blogger Lioux said...


I was totally on the same page with Brookly Gal on this ICFC thing.

Sometimes [twice] I've asked myself Why, Why, Why would someone do this to themselves?!

And then I remembered...You do this for us. The Fans and Readers of ZFS!.blogspot.com

Thank you.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

It's my pleasure. Sort of.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous J. said...

OK, first let me tell you what you ate. The translation appears to have been a little garbled. The nutritious part (营养)was on but the "preserved vegetable" part could have been more precise. That vegetable was “榨菜” which translates as "hot pickled mustard tuber". The 丝 at the end does indeed translate as filament or thread, though. So now you know that you ate "nutritious hot pickled mustard tuber filaments". Also, on the booze situation. If I had known that you were considering drinking Chinese liquor I would have warned against it as strongly as possible. It is bad enough that Chinese film makers believe that there are only two genres in existence (crushingly depressing and kung-fu) or that their idea of dessert consists of sweetened bean paste concealed in a bland pastry but one would think that after 5000 years of continuous recorded history they could have come up with some sort of booze that could stand next to whiskey, brandy, or vodka. They haven't. I suspect that you drank baijiu (白酒)and discovered that it sucks ass.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Baiju is TOTALLY what I drank. I just looked it up and, yep, no question. It was pretty god-awful. As for the hot pickled mustard tuber... well... yeah, I guess that was about it, but I still can't wrap my mind around exactly what it was supposed to be.

As always, thanks for your help!!!

4:52 PM  
Blogger Big Daddy said...

So is the baiju worse than ouzo?



Black-out in a bottle.

5:42 PM  
Blogger NYCPonderings Chick said...

the drinking gasoline photo is def my favorite..

10:19 PM  
Blogger Braden said...

Schadenfreudian Gold!

12:24 AM  
Blogger jiminycricket said...

You win multiple awards for the best ever description of 'hot'.
"The car is also on fire."
Gold. Certified Gold.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Big Daddy... I'd say worse, but admittedly it's been a really long time since I've had ouzo.

NYCponds... For sure. I'm thinking of having it framed and hung up in the National Museum of C-dog's An Idiot.

Braden... Your big words impress me! What is this "gold?"

Jiminy... Thanks, dude. It's funny you should mention awards; I was just contacted by the Nobel Prize committie! Not for my writing, obviously. For my work in bio-chemistry. Psychic apes are a reality!!!

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I was a bold, adventurous eater, but I'm slowly realizing that all I want is a double bacon cheeseburger and a Dr. Pepper, thanks (not that this is going to stop me from continuing my ICFC journey, but still).

Thank God for that.

-Phoenix, who is laughing at work

10:57 AM  
Blogger Todd said...

I don't know how you get these pictures man, if I were watching this live I think I might pee myself. The difference between "happy pre-drink Clinton" and "sad post-drink Clinton" is so painful!

10:43 PM  

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