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Nov 1, 2008 07:29 AM

World's best products?

In the spirit of the "world's worst products" topic, what one would you pick as world's best?

I know "product" is a very broad category - certainly not fresh vegetables or fruit, meats or fish, and I'd tend to omit some traditional fermented, raised etc products such as fresh bread, or cheese. But a good cheese in a tin for emergency supplies might be a candidate, as could exceptionally good tinned vegetables. Though perhaps slightly more quirky or unusual preparations might be more in the spirit of this thread - prepared vegetables and/or fish or meats in tins or frozen, interesting boxed groceries, exotic finds...

Above all, have fun!

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  1. 1. Japanese Fukujinzuke pickled vegetables: come in cans with painted lables, of which the old tradititonal design was best.

    2. A stack of fresh tortillas from any tortilleria everywhere in Mexico.

    3. Dried mushrooms from all over Asia.

    4. Dried Wakame seaweed

    5. Ume boshi

    6. Sustainably produced dried African game meat

    7. Fish sauce

    8. Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli (JUST KIDDING!!!!)

    11 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Oh come on, Sam. We all know you're a Chef Boyardee junkie.

      Best? I'm thinking, I'm thinking!

      1. re: Caroline1

        Think a bit quirky, in the spirit of the world's worst!

        1. re: lagatta

          Bit quirky? World's worst? I'd have to top that list with tripe. Smells and tastes like cow spit. And when I hear people talk about how mild it is, I assume they must have a very debilitating head cold!

          Next, and nearly as vile, brains. I can handle most slimy food with no problem, but brains don't make the list. besides, who needs Creutzfeldt Jakob disease?

          Fernet Branca! I don't much care for that drink. On the other hand, it probably does have good uses. Like, I'm sure if you put some in the mouth of someone who was mere microseconds from death, they would live another decade at least. NO ONE wants to die with that on their taste buds!

          Then there is a long corkscrew shaped pepper I once had in southern Turkey. It is not just hot. It is a serious nerve toxin! I think Turkish babies are inoculated with the anti-toxin at birth, because it's very popular among the natives. And as an addendum here, I'm not fond of any chiles that are too hot. Guess I'm not much into masochism.

          I don't think I'd care much for raw (or cooked!) sheep's eyes. My uncle had to eat a bowl of them as the guest of honor of a sheik in Saudi Arabia, back in the 1940s. He said he faked gusto and won great favor for Aramco, his employer. I don't think I could have done that.

          I'm no great fan of raw onions, especially the very biting kind. Sweet onions I can handle. Cut a biting onion with a carbon steel knife and I don't even want to be in the same room!

          Gaijin sushi! It's the worst side of human imagination gone mad. Coming soon to a sushi bar near you: Crispy lemon Jell-O and monk fish Pop Rocks hand roll! Look for it!

          I guess that's about it for yucky stuff. At least that's all I can think of at the moment. For great foods, here goes:

          Wine! I adore great rich reds. Sauternes can make my taste buds dance! I like brut champagnes, which is curious. How can I love great sauternes and not like sweet champagnes? Whites, roses, I even like retsinas, but especially red retsina, which seems to be highly endangered. Oh, and German Eiswein. Lots of good German wines.

          Next I'd have to say vinegar. How can you have great wine and not have at least some great vinegars, no matter how fast you drink the wine? What would life be without vinegar? You can flavor things with it, dress things with it, preserve things with it, and sterilize things with it. And used right, it tastes good!

          Milk! Blessings and gratitude for the first human who domesticated a milk producing critter (probably a goat). Without his/her creativity we would have nothing to put on our cereal, no cheese for our cheeseburgers, no yogurt, no ice cream, no buttermilk, none of the wonders we take so for granted.

          Wheat! Could life be worth living without wheat (apologies to all of you celiacs!)? Bread, cakes, pies, cream puffs, crullers, oodles of noodles, pancakes, waffles, and chicken fried steak. You can't make chicken-fried anything without flour!

          Rice. It's the "wheat" of most of the world! From paella to sweet sticky rice, the world is a better place for having rice.

          And corn. Just try making a corn dog, let alone a tortilla or tomal, without corn!

          Edibles from the ocean! Plant or animal, can't think of a one of them I haven't enjoyed greatly.

          Which brings me to the Regrets list...

          Have to top it with the diminishing sea food problems. I especially regret the dwindling supply of abalone and beluga sturgeon. I am extremely blessed for having feasted on both abalone and beluga caviar by the kilo, and greatly regret that many of you will not.

          I hate what agribusiness in the U.S. has done to the flavor of most foods. My current housekeeper is fascinated by tales from me and her grandmother about what food used to taste like. She doesn't like tomatoes. I tell her it's because she has never had a tomato! Way too much of today's mass produced foods have all the flavor of wax replicas!

          And final regret: What we do to water!

          All of the good things and bad things are the result of man's intelligence. It's the bad things that are endangering us. I keep telling people that intelligence is not a survival trait in any species. After all, it's the gazelle that pauses to think about which way to run that is the lion's lunch! We are two legged gazelles. AND we are the lion!

          1. re: Caroline1

            on your gazelle analogy, i watch natural selection operate when a squirrel runs across in front of my car. the smart ones don't stop in the middle of the road! otherwise, "squirrel sushi" -- ok, ok, squirrel "sashimi" to you purists! ;-)

            i've never eaten squirrel (at least that i know of).

            shrimp from the gulf of mexico are on my list of top world products.

            italian "rose" rolls. with unsalted butter.

            1. re: Caroline1

              "And as an addendum here, I'm not fond of any chiles that are too hot."

              I hate (with a passion) spicy hot food. I don't understand how anyone can like stuff that burns the mouth, then burns the gut, and then keeps burning everything else in its trail. You cannot taste anything; it's all just heat. There was one cook at a hotel in Berkeley, California, who dusted my Eggs Benedict with cayenne. I could have had him drawn and quartered.

              1. re: souschef

                I disagree that you can't taste anything with spicy hot food. I have eaten a couple of meals that were close to painfully hot, but that I couldn't stop eating, because they tasted so good.

                Besides, you get a little "high" off that stuff.

                1. re: im_nomad

                  Okay, maybe I should concede that when food is so uncomfortably hot, flavour is really irrelevant to me, so I do not notice it; I hate the burning sensation. What I like best is French food, where they do not use hot spices, so I can discern flavours comfortably.

                  I was once at the home of an Indian friend who offered me some food that was way too hot for me, so I asked for yogourt to cool it down. After I added the yogourt the food was still too hot, which was unusual, so I asked his wife what she did to the yogourt. She told me that since yogourt is tasteless she added chili to it ! People unclear on the concept !!

                  1. re: im_nomad

                    i like hot but not too too, and not often. vindaloo is just over the top -- imo, no food flavors come through. madras level is even too much, now. ironically, mr. alka (tamil, sri lanka) bears up less well than i do. but in any event, taj mahal lager helps, of course. give me a great thai som tum -- it is well worth it.

                  2. re: souschef

                    hot really does depend on the cook. there was a clandestine Thai place in Oakland around '90 that had no phone, ad, or anything. one just had to know.

                    on the advice of the owner/waiter I asked for mild to medium (and I like hot) it was blinding, but the flavors were all still discernible through it.

                    but yeah, most places of any cuisine can't pull that off. hot, yes, but hot for hot sake alone.

                    I hear it's long gone, but what a memory, like a desert mirage. "I swear it was here, right here!"

                    1. re: hill food

                      Whether one can distinguish all the other flavors beneath all that 'nasty' heat is also a matter of tolerance level. I used to hate hot food so much, I couldn't even eat the mildest Buffalo wings.

                      Fast forward three years cohabitating with a Thai girlfriend and traveling to Thailand -- and now I can't have any Asian food without wanting it to make my scalp sweat. I want it to be hot. I cannot have it without the spice. And yes, the more you are used to the heat, the more you can taste the other flavors. It all comes together, and if the heat weren't there, you'd miss it.

                      I add hotness to a lot of foods. I think it is addictive.

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Umeboshi? Eek. I tried it once and still have nightmares... It was always one of those "gross out the foreigner" foods they offered me when I was in Japan.

              I retaliated with the Twizzler. In terms of quirky/odd foods, Twizzlers are kind of strange. At any rate, that's the only food I can think of at this moment other than Chef Boyardee.

            3. Most of my list seems to be aimed at intensity, uniformity, and stability:

              San Marzano canned tomatoes
              Anchovies (flat, canned)
              Gaspe salt cod
              Spanish sardines, skinless, boneless
              raw hams, aged
              Campari tomatoes on vine
              Herbes de Provence
              Ceylon tea
              Blue Mountain coffee
              Honey from special flowers, such as white dutch clover or buckwheat
              Macadamia nuts

                1. re: im_nomad

                  Agreed! I will follow that up with Cholula, my other favorite hot sauce.

                  1. re: Stillwater Girl

                    In this spirit, I'll add Lizano salsa. Not hot, but a delight nonetheless.

                2. Pork bao (not sure on the spelling...)
                  Lucky Charms (When stoned...)
                  Nacho cheese Doritos (Ditto)
                  Frozen early harvest petite peas
                  Better than Bouillon
                  Carnation Malted Milk Powder (Can't find it anymore...Help?)
                  Frank's Hot Sauce
                  Canned tuna in Olive Oil
                  San Marzano Tomatoes
                  Trader Joe's Unburied Treasure (Corn puffs from Heaven....)
                  OK, it's 6:30 PDT and we just set the damned clocks back yesterday!! I'm hungry!!!
                  Please vote on Tuesday!!!! As if your life depended on it..... Adam

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: adamshoe

                    I was under the impression the perfect food when stoned was Peanut M&Ms.
                    (and I voted Saturday - as if my life depended on it)

                    1. re: silvergirl

                      nonsene, its Oreos, the ultimate munchable. and i voted today... hooray its over!
                      (but are they good or bad?)

                    2. re: adamshoe

                      I'm 100% with you on the Nacho Cheese Doritos...only when in the same state of mind!

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        Doritos are only good in adolescence under flashlight in a slightly mildewy tent. (slightly later in life stoned).

                      2. Finished ,tempered CHOCOLAT,as we know it.Who would of thought ? The trip from tree to table is tremendeous.
                        Fermented or smoked fish ,soy sauce,
                        cultivation > refrigeration and all in between for what we know today as beer and wine.
                        DISTILLED BEVERAGES aged or not BREAD All leavening agents
                        fired ,glazed ,kilned ceramics molten sand > blown glass