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Taste This: Let's Review

By Mike Breen · September 27th, 2011 · Lost in the Supermarket

When I’m not playing the culinary rube and writing this column about unusual food items found at most local grocery stores, I write about music. So the past several weeks I’ve been crazy busy working on coverage of the 2011 MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati. 

In honor of my hectic schedule and MidPoint’s 10th fest, I’ve decided to celebrate the 21-month anniversary of Lost in the Supermarket with a round-up of some of the horrible things I’ve consumed so that you don’t have to. Taste test results have ranged from “Oh my God, how can people eat this?” to “Not too bad,” which is akin to five stars here.

Spotted Dick. This seemingly horrendous item was the inspiration for Lost in the Supermarket. Brits are known for horrible food, but, ironically, the most disgusting-sounding U.K. dish of all is probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten for the column. No genitalia is involved — Spotted Dick is like a yummy, moist, spiced muffin. (This column set a CityBeat record — most penis puns in a single article.)

Clamato Juice. Huge in Mexico, on the West Coast and in Canada, Clamato suffers from having one of the worst product names ever, but the “clam” flavor is mercifully overwhelmed by the tomato and sodium. So it’s basically like a can of tomato juice left open in a seafood restaurant’s cooler.

Gefilte Fish.

A traditional Jewish dish that, from the outside of the jar, looks like “grey, testicle-like globules floating seasick in city-river-cloudy water.” The closest thing to canned cat food I’ve ever eaten.

Mock Turtle Soup. Having offended Brits, Hispanics and Jews with the three aforementioned items, I turned the tables on myself. A childhood favorite of mine, Turtle Soup contains no turtle. It’s more like runny Cincinnati-style chili. And it’s delicious! Promise!

Head Cheese/Hot Souse. These items haunt my nightmares, thanks to my stint as a deli clerk at a local grocery store. Less cheese and more “extraneous pig parts encased in gelatin,” head cheese (and its spicier cousin, hot souse) gives you all the hangover effects of cheap pork products, minus the flavor. And you might get a stray bone every now and then!

Meatless Meat. I tried Morning Star’s Bacon Strips and Chick’n Nuggets, as well as Amy’s Veggie Steak & Gravy and was “thrilled that meatless meat isn’t as good as the real deal. Scientists who can re-create meat are just an orangutan-heart transplant away from being able to build an unstoppable clone army to take over the world.”

Pickled Pig’s Feet. I managed to put off eating pig’s feet for a year, but finally gave in. This one’s as gross, if not grosser, than you’d imagine. The taste (bologna-like) is the least of its disgustingness — it’s all about the look (post-tumor-removal-surgery remnants) and texture (creamy meat fat). 

Pickled Eggs. One of the more aesthetically pleasing items I’ve sampled, these bar faves came in pink and were floating peacefully in a jar, like a breast-cancer awareness/Easter tie-in. The verdict on the taste? Pickled racketballs. 

SPAM. A classic “disgusting grocery store item,” I broke down and finally tasted SPAM just last month. Perhaps more than anything other than Spotted Dick, I was pleasantly surprised by how not-horrible it was fried up (the taste is a mix of fried ham and bacon — in other words, heavenly).

Though my ability to find something potentially repulsive at the supermarket to write about monthly has been questioned from the start, I’ve managed to come up with 21 so far. And I haven’t even gotten to liverwurst or pork brains yet! 

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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