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World's best products?

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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)
              Bottarga
              Capers
              Saffron
              Gaspe salt cod
              Spanish sardines, skinless, boneless
              raw hams, aged
              Campari tomatoes on vine
              Reggiano
              Herbes de Provence
              Tellicherry
              Ceylon tea
              Blue Mountain coffee
              Honey from special flowers, such as white dutch clover or buckwheat
              Macadamia nuts

              1. Sriracha !

                3 Replies
                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.

                    1. re: Cachetes

                      Tapatio.

                2. Pork bao (not sure on the spelling...)
                  Popcorn
                  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. re: adamshoe

                        http://www.amazon.com/Carnation-Malte...

                      3. 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

                        1. Amarena Fabbri Italian Cherries

                          1. Norwegian fish balls. Matjes herring. B&M Brown Bread.

                            1. Agree with Sam's umeboshi, but not so much with fukujinzuke. It's ok for what it is, but many, many types of tsukemono and ban-chan (many available in pre-made, sealed bags, if not cans) are much tastier.

                              I would add these:

                              Rakyo-zuke (pickled baby onions) - kare just isn't kare without the right condiments

                              Ventresca tuna from big-eye or tuna del norte

                              Bags of high-quality katsuo-bushi as well as niboshi for making dashi

                              Bricks of achiotte paste for making pibil

                              Roasted red peppers in water - pedestrian and ubiquitous, but very useful for when you don't want to roast and peel your own.

                              Sommerdale clotted cream - a scone just isn't a scone without it

                              Recaito in a jar (Goya) - add to cubed pork (w/onions, garlic, black beans) and cook for 2 hours for a good minimum fuss chille verde

                              Kabayaki eels

                              Landjaeger - it's meat, but it's a prepared item, like all chacuterie

                              and of course (drum roll)...

                              Rotel - for the ultimate lazy man's queso dip, omelets, guac, and whatever ails ya

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: applehome

                                Yes, Fukujinzuke is not for everyone. I grew up with it and still like it.

                              2. Piquillo peppers and jamon iberico from spain.

                                Chinese black bean sauce.

                                Burgundy, red or white, form a good producer in a good year.

                                Large kosher pickles that crunch.

                                Why aren't we including cheese? Why no runny stinky Epoisses?

                                1. The single best thing ever: a marron glacé (candied chestnut) from Bernachon or other luxury chocolatier/confisier.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I am so on board with that! I wonder how this year's batch will be?

                                    Marron Glace are worth every penny. They are such beautiful things.

                                    1. re: moh

                                      Kim chi?

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Yeah, definitely - been buying this "New York" brand at Reliable Market - plastic bag in a tub - it is very, very good (and expensive, unfortunately).

                                        Another product I like: DuFour puff pastry - cause I'm way too lazy to make my own.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          Well, I would include kimchi on my list of best products, but the OP specifically excluded fermented products, such as cheese and kimchi. But of course, it should be included!

                                          1. re: moh

                                            Ok, ok. Sunchang Gochujuang in the red plastic container.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              I don't think I know this brand, so I'll take your word on this one!

                                              I inherit jars of kochuchang from my mum, and I have no idea where she gets it, what brand, etc. Sometimes it is a brand, sometimes it is a jar smuggled in from who knows where. And sometimes, she has already doctored it up by sauteing it and adding some spices and sesame oil, and vinegar, or pine nuts, or ground beef or pork. I am learning the tricks of the trade as it were, but the variations are endless.

                                        2. re: moh

                                          moh, don't forget to update the marrons glacees thread as you try them. I have never been able to get good marrons glacees here - even the stuff I have had that was supposed to be fresh from France was not very good. I have tried to make them - failed miserably. It's a long, drawn-out 2-week process.

                                          1. re: souschef

                                            There are quite good ones imported from Turkey (non-alcoholic) - Kafkas brand from Bursa, the Turkish chestnut capital - available in NYC. Not as good as the French ones but also not filthily exxpensive.

                                        3. re: buttertart

                                          Yes!!! marrons glacees from Confiserie Rohr in Geneva.

                                          Read Roger Vergé's "Entertaining in the French Style" - he like to, around Christmas I take it, pop a marron glacee in his mouth, then add to it some dark chocolate and cognac, then munch it all together. It makes you want to repeat it immediately. He says you should take yoursel fot bed after as you are good for nothing else after you have done it a few times. I tried it once.....mmmmmmmmm!!!

                                          1. re: souschef

                                            Sounds like something to be eaten IN bed! With the proper company.

                                        4. Frank's RedHot
                                          Pickapeppa sauce
                                          Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire
                                          Angostura bitters
                                          Cafe Fanny granola
                                          Frankie's 457 Spuntino olive oil
                                          RW Knudsen Simply Concord Grape Juice
                                          Koon Chun Chinese black vinegar
                                          Nabisco Famous chocolate wafers
                                          Bubby's pickles

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Regan B

                                            Is that Bubby's? or Bubbies? Is it a different brand?

                                          2. HP brown sauce
                                            Irish soda bread
                                            Herrings in cream sauce
                                            Datenut bread
                                            Taco bell

                                            1. The combination of Port and Roquefort. On their own I do not like either, but together - a match made in heaven. BTW Stilton does not do it for me.

                                              Royal figs with double chocolate bread.
                                              Jacquart Champagne.
                                              Lobster ravioli - MY lobster ravioli, that is !
                                              Foie gras, chaud-froid
                                              Brioche
                                              White chocolate/Champagne petits fours

                                              1. I know, some of these don; fit...but they are produced, so.....

                                                Hand dipped chocolates from

                                                Royal Stanislaus Nancy, France
                                                Wittamer, The Sablon, Brussels

                                                Fresh soy milk and curd, I think it is Healthy Soy, San Deigo CA

                                                Corn Tortillas, fresh, in a paper bag.

                                                Stroopwaffel, fresh and set over my steaming cuppa, Amsterdam

                                                Boazi, from the guy right off the 3rd Ring Road, just before the Lido Hotel, Beijing

                                                La Mien, ahh if my arms were only longer.

                                                1. Bar Harbor Lobster Dip

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                    Have you ever tried the Bar Harbor canned wild herrings? I honestly think that this is one of the best canned herrings I've had - and I'm including the German ones, which are wonderful. Market Basket used to carry these, but no longer... I have heard Shaw's still has them, haven't had a chance to look. Maybe I'll take a trip down east... oh forget it - I just looked up Whiting, Maine - it's like almost Canada...

                                                    http://www.barharborfoods.com/wild-ca...

                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                      Love 'em and agree. If you're lucky, you can find them at the Marden's stores at reduced prices.

                                                  2. Spanish white anchovies in olive oil..canned. Delicious. Glen Muir fire roasted canned whole tomatoes.

                                                    1. Braised sweetbreads, served in a puff pastry "shell", with a white wine cream sauce .

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                        Is this a canned product? If so, can you tell us where to mail order it?

                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                          No, it is not a mail-order product; you have to make the components yourself. I'll outline the sweetbread and sauce part. If you are interested I can post the recipe.

                                                          Following standard sweetbread treatment (soak to remove blood, blanch, flatten and saute) you braise the sweetbreads with diced carrots and onions that have been sweated in oil, in white wine and chicken stock. When the sweetbreads are tender you remove them from the liquid. Then strain the liquid, add whipping cream, and reduce to sauce consistency. Slice and reheat the sweetbreads in the sauce, and serve in puff pastry.

                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                            That does sound excellent. I asked because the thread was particularly about prepared products - I guess I was hoping there was such a thing as a delicious sweetbread you could pop out of a can.

                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                              Sorry, I kinda got carried away, as so often happens to me when it comes to food - got caught up in the enthusiasm. Now if we could get PDC to can sweetbreads (they do have duck in a can). I have never seen sweetbreads on the menu there, which is surprising.

                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                Yes, but would sweetbreads actually go with poutine? ;-)

                                                            2. re: souschef

                                                              yes, that is why I wanted to exclude bread, cheese (or kimchi) unless they are in a tin or package. See world's worst product threads to rhe inspiration!

                                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                                Sweetbreads are not breads - they are meat - the thymus gland, most often of beef. They need to be prepared (soaked and poached) before final preparation which is why I've always thought that it would be useful if canned in some way. I've never seen it that way - but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Foie Gras pate comes in cans, after all.

                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                  I suspect the "bread" being referred to is the puff pastry casing for the sweetbreads mentioned above. But I could be wrong. It's what I assumed was being referred to. I don't think any kind of filling can be put in a can with puff pastry and expect the "puff" to still be puffy when the can is opened.

                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                    Sweetbreads are not most often of beef, but veal. The thymus gland controls growth, and its role is over when the calf becomes beef, so it shrivels away.
                                                                    There is a secondary sweetbread from the pancreas (totally different area of the cow) and this type of gland may be preferred by some chefs because of its reliability.

                                                          2. how could I forget smoked paprika? canned chipotle in adobo ?

                                                            1. Wolf Brand Chili, a taste of home for many Texans when we get a blue norther. It's no longer made with with beef suet or lard, but I don't mind too much. BTW, original flavor only, neither mild nor spicy, and certainly NO BEANS.

                                                              1. I'm pretty hot on Nutella at the moment.

                                                                1. Hi All!

                                                                  I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and we are very lucky here to have the most wonderful ice cream in the world, Graeters is a Cincinnati institution. Graeters ice cream is made in relatively small batches using the 'French Pot' method . The result is wonderfully creamy. The chip flavors are made by pouring molten chocolae into the spinning ice cream and it is not unusual to find a chip the size of a small chocolate bar in your ice cream!

                                                                  If you're ever in Cincinnati, be sure to try a scoop!

                                                                  -Mary
                                                                  www.BestinKitchen.com

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: MEH

                                                                    MEH, I've read about Graeters and the only way to get it to NY is to ship it, and the price is obscene, so I doubt I'll ever try it. I'm sure if I got to Cincinnati, I'd never leave, I would just set up home near a Graeter retailer.

                                                                    On the best, did anyone mention chocolate HobNobs? If yes, I second it. Amazing stuff.

                                                                  2. 1) banana licuados
                                                                    2) French fries, fried in olive oil
                                                                    3) fresh fish curry bbq'd in a banana leaf
                                                                    4) passion fruit caramels from Chuao Chocolatier
                                                                    5) rugelach from Margaret Palca
                                                                    6) cashew finger baklava (all butter of course)
                                                                    7) Cheez-its
                                                                    8) Hoch y Brig cheese
                                                                    9) Askinosie white chocolate
                                                                    10) enchiladas with mole negro

                                                                    The hand made tortilla idea as well as gorditas made on the street are definitely up there too! As is candy corn.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: gourmandadventurer

                                                                      Once again, most of these are dishes, not products. I hate to be a stickler, and it ain't my thread to police, but if I were being asked for the 10 best dishes ever, I could go on and on. Since I didn't, you can't. nyah - so there.

                                                                      Where do you get those baklava?

                                                                    2. i absolutely love canned le sueur small early sweet peas, mmmm.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: marietinn

                                                                        marietinn, my mom will only use those le sueur peas for her pea salad: drained peas, mayo, chopped boiled egg, minced onion, and cubes of cheddar cheese.

                                                                        ----------
                                                                        "best products": "cholula" and "tiger sauce"

                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                          Sounds good, minus the mayo. Btw, I love tiger sauce, but not such a big fan of cholula.
                                                                          Those peas are great warm with some butter and soy sauce mixed in, on a piece of potato bread, strange I know, but thats what happens in college...

                                                                      2. How could I forget ? A guest arrived yesterday with 2 BOXES of De Met's original turtles.
                                                                        My favorite,before the Milkey Way candy.