Way back in April of 2007 I pointed you to McSweeney's Reviews of New Food. These reviews veer from hyperliterary nostalgia-laced foodpoems (The Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges: "If P.E. was the Crimean War of my middle-school life, then cheese was my Florence Nightingale.") to terse microstories that can only hint at the writer's painful inner life (Doritos X-13D: "The best thing about Doritos X-13D is the way your vegetarian girlfriend tries one before she looks at the package and sees that these chips contain beef tallow."). In all cases, the reviews are best when they're about everything but the food itself.
In the years since I first mentioned McSweeney's Reviews of New Food, many newer, stranger foods have been produced and subsequently reviewed, thus necessitating a recapitulation of my admonition: you must read these important reviews of new food. If you don't read these reviews, how are you going to know which new foods will make you happy or sad? And how are you going to find out about the suffering and tragedies inherent in being a food reviewer? Prithy go forth and read some food reviews. Here are a few favorites:
Mache (Lamb's Lettuce)
Submitted by Marco Kaye
For far too long, arugula held a bitter stranglehold over our salad bars. Then frisÃ©e entered and quickly exited our lives as the latest trend in roughage. Now there's a newcomer, with a name that rhymes with squash. It's mache, also called lamb's lettuce. Mache attempted a debut five years ago, on NPR, but the green hasn't caught on until now. The reasons for this are twofold. First, many of us were blindsided by the watercress takeover of '05 to '06 (which was met with a resounding "I guess just dump them into the microgreens" attitude). Second, mache-cultivation techniques have improved a lot.
As each successive movement in art is a reaction against the previous mode, mache represents a collective shift away from the tart greens that populate those mesclun mixes. It tastes sweet and just slightly nutty. The tiny green leaves are attached seven or eight on a stem. It looks like several children's mittens tied together. And it's just as delicate and airy. It plates beautifully as well, the way a discarded child's mitten creates a forlorn oasis of humanity in a city street. ...
My Son James's Favorite Snacks
From the Local Tienda, as Described
by My Son James
Submitted by Lisa Domby
"This place doesn't have a name. It's in the old Johnny's Sporting Goods, but they don't sell crickets here anymore."
Takis Fuego (rolled corn chips, fire flavor): "These things taste way crunchier and way spicier and way awesomer than Doritos. The guacamole ones smell good, but they don't taste good."
Paleton Patolin paleta de malvavisco (chocolate-covered marshmallow with gummy eyes and mouth): "This thing looks like a weird clown, but it tastes pretty good." ...
Babidinos Paletadinos sabor tamarindo enchilada (tamarind lollipop): "This is my favorite thing to get. This thing is really chewy and spicy. You can't eat the whole thing, because it's too spicy, but you can save it in the refrigerator for a really long time. If you don't put it in the refrigerator, ants will get on it."
Dwight Yoakam's Chicken Fries
Submitted by Jonathan Holley
A product of the Bakersfield Biscuits Brand, Dwight Yoakam's Chicken Lickin's Chicken Fries come approximately 12 to a box, which costs just a dollar. These are similar to the chicken fries available at Burger King, but of inferior quality. The bright red, orange, and yellow packaging of Dwight Yoakam's chicken purports that they are "inspected for wholesomeness" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The packaging is evasive regarding the results of said inspection. Were these fries deemed wholesome? It seems impossible.
In my 1997 analysis of the chickenesque, I famously hypothesized that Nabisco's Chicken in a Biskit crackers would forever maintain position as lowest rung on the chicken continuum. Today, Dwight Yoakam offers irrefutable counterevidence and collapses my former worldview.
Do you have a favorite new food? Or one that has left you forlorn and regretful? Share your own reviews of new food in the comments!