Monday, June 18, 2007
Why Only Western Civilization Understands Desserts
I don't have many rules for food, but two of them, mostly true, are: 1) The national dishes of any culture are usually repulsive if you're not from that culture, and 2) Only the West gets desserts. Number one is mostly true, with small exceptions here and there. Number 2 is absolutely true. I love Asian food, but what passes for sweets is mostly incomprehensible. Thick dry bean pastes, sweets with meat centers, huh? The Japanese are sneakier, they make desserts that look European until you bite into them, and reveal their non Western designs. One Japanese sweet looks like a ball of sweetened snot. Delightful. And Indian desserts, forget about it. My joke on Indian sweets is you take a Twinkie, put it in bowl of milk, let it sit on a windowsill for 3 days, then cover it in honey. I love these cuisines, but they just don't get dessert. Everyonce in awhile, you get a westerner who pretends to like this stuff, but I think they're lying, just claiming to eat it to appear hip. Nobody from this part of the world can honestly tell me they'd rather have a ball of black bean paste than a cannoli or a creme brulee. To understand fully Eastern perversity in this field, check out the Asian Candy & Snack shops that have opened up in Chinatown. They sell things I can comprehend, like wasabi green peas, but they make candy out of squid and fish, and it's what the fuck? for a Westerner. Candied squid? The flavors often combine odd juxtapostions in unsavory taste combinations. Sweet with an undertone of rot, for example. Go ahead. Go to one of these places and taste some of the weirder things. I can't recall the name, but there's one on lower Mott Street. We Westerners might've gotten a lot wrong, but dessert is not one of them.