While Snickers, Dove bars and Skittles have found their way into
the Great Vending Machine of China, most other American candies are as
impossible to find here as size nine women’s shoes.
And candy is called tang?
The “a” has a fourth tone, going up like a question.
That’s because most of the candy is questionable.
Take for instance, the Chinese favorite, monkey milk taffy.
Yes, it lives up to its name, having the same revolting aftertaste as
a curdling gallon past its expiration date.
Then there are dried candy plums which resemble shriveled
body parts plucked from a prehistoric man.
No thank you.
Equally as tempting are Chinese street confections. You can
find candied apples and handmade sticky-sweet zodiac characters, guaranteed to
pull out dental work.
Keep in mind, I am someone who finagled free passes to the
international Candy convention in Chicago, where the McCormick Center was transformed into a real life Candyland game.
Now I am dependent on a lactating primate to get my sugar buzz?
I don’t think so.
So in my WIRED class (writing for the internet and
electronic devices), I had students write letters to CEOs of various confection
companies, pleading with them to sell their product in the country with over a
billion tongues or ten thousand billion deprived taste buds.
That’s because my students, all born After Google (AG), none who ever knew life
before Al Gore invented the internet, who can’t believe that cell phones
were once used only for talking, were
able to access emails on the website that top hackers couldn’t find, like that of the CEO
to Pepsi International and the top banana at Hershey’s.
And for some reason, I was amazed.
I had an email connection as well, a former advertising
colleague who worked on Wheaties. He has moved up the marketing food chain to a
more palatable product.
I’ll just call him. Deep Wonka.
Students wrote him letters which they checked more carefully than
The box was more valuable than the Lost Ark.
The booty included chewy Sweet Tarts, Nerds Rope and other outrageous
It was the talk of the school.
The funny thing was, once the teens ripped the package open,
they were more excited about recoding the moment than devouring its contents.
After all, it was wired class.
Thank you Deep Wonka!
There’s one thing all kids have in common, regardless of
nationality, test scores, or if they still pick their nose.
They’d all like to see their principal get wet.
Usually, it’s just a fantasy students have while sitting in
the principal;s office writing, “I will
not flush glue sticks down the toilet” fifty times.
But this time, at Kunming International Academy, it was a
Mr. Mac was the dunkee at the fun fair’s dunking booth.
There was a long line of shorties wanting to test their
curve ball, hoping to dunk Mr. Mac.
The line was reminiscent of what you’d see at Disney World.
Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t in standing in the line. However, I did subsidize some of
Ok, I don’t know how it happened, but it did.
Durian, the only thing that the bald guy on Bizarre Foods
would rather have his tongue remove than eat. The thing that looks like a spiked football
with edible abscesses inside.
Well, it has gotten under the skin of my taste buds.
It started with my ESL class students. I have Koreans,
Taiwanese and Hongkongese whose eyes light up when I mention the
“It so delicious!” they say.
I can tell they are not messing with me, like I do with them, telling them that a
Gherkin Dill tastes like a green jolly rancher.
So I purchased a durian for a student’s birthday. I had to store it on the balcony in the women’s bathroom and eat it outside. The school, like other places, has a policy prohibiting durian.
After we sliced the prickly skin open, the students were curious to what I thought.
The texture of my first durian experience was that of a
slimy mushroom. The shape of the edible innards was similar to a small avocado,
with a big lima bean looking like pit inside.
The taste? It had that papaya aftertaste going on along with
a bit of pumpkin and something robust like onion.
So you may ask, what tempted me to try it again?
I don’t know.
I think my taste buds wanted a second shot at deciphering what the heck
So in Bangkok, I gave durian a another try.
In Bangkok, durian stands
are as common as sex toy vendors.
This time,the durian was like a marshmallow fruit. A real sweet vanilla flavor right from a Willy Wonka movie. The texture was like Lucky Charms after they’ve soaked in milk for a bit.
Even so, I made sure there was no evidence of durian remained on my lips before
returning to the hotel room. Jeff hates the thought of the stuff.
And I knew then, I would need another taste.
Was this really a marshmallow?
Upon returning to Kunming, I needed my Durian fix, I snuck out to the Central city and searched for durian dealerss.
I found a few. I got a rumpled wad of RMB out of my pocket and approached a man who looked like he hadn’t bathed since the fourth of july. He was in an area I’ll refer to as Durian Alley.
My hands were trembling. I tastebuds were going thru cold turkey.
He weighed the fruit on a hand held scale, charging me about a buck for three slippery pieces and put them in a baggy.
I pulled a piece out, and loaded one into my mouth. But this time, the fruit was mushy like an edible abscess. Imagine expecting to bite into a firm melon and ended up with mushy banana. The texture was so
repulsive, I couldn’t eat it.
But instead of swearing it off, I found another vendor and gave my tastebuds another exotic whirl.
Jeff says there’s a reason why God put sharp spikes on it and gave the fruit a smell reminiscent of a forgotten jock strap. “They are warning signs not to eat it.”
But his warnings are falling to a deaf ear. I’m hopelessly hooked.
So, durian is the mood rings of eating experiences. Sometimes, it’s good, sometimes it’s ugly.
I recommend taking your chances and trying it.
Queen’s Silk, a women’s tailor off of Sukhumvit, whipped my
dress together faster than the mice stitched together Cinderella’s gown. I brought in
pictures of a dress I tried on at the Paragon Shopping Center then picked out a
fabric from their rainbow of colors.
Two days later, I had a new dress.
Here is Bangkok’s Coco Chanel…
With fabulous tailored fashions this quick, no wonder department
store mannequins are left homeless on the street. They are like old transvestite
prostitutes. No one is looking at what they’re soliciting anymore!