Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Funny Food Combos

Sliced ripe mango topped with Best Food Mayonnaise

When I was growing up in Hawaii, my Popo (grandmother) would regularly stop by to share whatever good deals she landed at the supermarkets or Chinese produce stands. One day she brought over some avocados. Now, I love avocados and will eat them in almost any form, but what Popo proceeded to do next traumatized me for several years: She splashed soy sauce (or shoyu, as we call it) into her avocado half and began to eat the concoction with a spoon.

Not being the most subtle kid, I'm sure I made loud gagging sounds. Popo just smiled and said, "Try it. It's delicious!" Politely declining, I made a silent determination that the poor woman had lost her facilities and was trying to poison all of us.

Then a few years later, the TV miniseries Shogun became a hit and suddenly all things Japanese were cool. Japanese restaurants decided to capitalize on this new-found popularity and reel in timid American eaters by creating less-exotic types of sushi. One of the most popular of these creations is the California roll, which contains avocado and is usually served with -- You guessed it -- shoyu. The first time I ate one of these puppies, I realized that the creaminess of the avocado went beautifully with the earthy saltiness of the shoyu. Dang, Popo wasn't crazy after all.

I was reminded of this the other day while reading one of my favorite blogs, The Tasty Island, which is pure food porn and a real tease to those of us who no longer live in the islands and don't have access to the variety of foods and restaurants found there. In an entry titled Mayo Mango Madness, writer Pomai describes how his mother enjoys sweet ripe mangos topped with ... Best Foods mayonnaise. He also posted, in an earlier entry, his recipe for Mango Bruschetta.

It really got me thinking of all the food combinations out there that sound kind of weird but are actually pretty yummy. I mean, who first thought of wrapping brie in puff pastry, baking it and serving it with crackers? Who in the Chinese restaurant trade first decided it would be smart to coat Honey Walnut Prawns (one of my favorite dishes) in warm mayo? Who in Chicago decided that the city's archetype hot dog should contain tomato slices but not ketchup? I read that the most popular pizza topping in Japan is fish. Soo desu ka?

This is why I try to keep an open mind when it comes to eating. Even if something doesn't really sound very appealing I will "at least try a bite," as I tell my kids. And I usually end up liking it! So if Pomai from The Tasty Island ever shows up at my door (yes, come visit!) with a delicious platter of mangos topped with mayo, you bet I'll give it a go. But I don't think I'll be in a hurry to make this on my own. (Sorry, dude.)


Rhema Hokama said...

wow you've really found a lot of great blogs! thanks for sharing. i browsed some of the pictures at tasty island--SUSHI!! i haven't had good sushi in ages! that's one thing i do miss about hawaii.

Napua said...

Jenny - I love love love Avocado and make guac quite a bit, but I've never tried avocado with shoyu, but I will now!!!

My favorite strange food combo that folks always gross out at: kim chee, PB & J sammiches!!!

Right outta small keed time.