Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bonus: Drink Tasting Contest!

A spontaneous trip to a Macanese convenience store means an opportunity for me to spend an hour putzing around 250 square feet of consumable goods. I was immediately gripped by the refrigerator case, which contained an incredible range of preposterous drink choices, as seen here. Not too surprising for a country that produces Chewy Lard Bites, but gripping nonetheless.

Of course this means a tasting contest. Well, not much of a contest, since Amy would sooner rip out her own nipple ring than drink potentially revolting sodas. But for the adventurous among us (read: stupid), this is an irresistible opportunity to learn more about Asian, um, culture. If you're the kind of person who says to a friend, "This tastes terrible -- try it!", then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Allow me to order the selections from best to worst. Each for only 50 cents!

Ice Cool's Mangosteen Juice Drink. By far the best of the bunch, this is absolutely delicious. I thought mangosteen was just a funny, kid's word for mango, but it's actually a completely different fruit that is purple on the outside and pearl white on the inside. It tastes citrusy, but sweeter and maybe a note of apricot and peach. It's amazing. Later that same day, Fox News (I know, TV was limited!) showed a special report about how people in the U.S. are clamoring for mangosteens for their flavor and antioxidents. I would gladly buy a case.

Ice Cool's Aloe Vera Lychee Juice with Pulp. OK, we're getting progressively more adventurous. This comes in second because it's didn't taste like much of anything. It tasted vaguely like aloe, and the lychee flavor was very subtle. But quite drinkable. If you grew up with it, you could see how people might find it refreshing.

Sugar Cane Drink
. I can't remember who made this one, but it was just incredibly boring, like if you drank your chemistry experiment where you had to test how much sugar could dissolve into a glass of water without precipitating. And then watered it down with a lot more water. Not good, but bearable.

Yeo's Grass Jelly Soda. Yeo's is apparently a Asian-specialty drink company from Singapore. Personally, I think Yeo must be Cantonese for "Great Satan." I had no idea what grass jelly was, which is why it immediately made its way to my basket. I now know that grass jelly is made by boiling the aged and fermented stalks and leaves of a mint tree. The result is a refreshing drink with the "light taste of iodine and lavender." It tastes like sucking on your old, soapy, sterilized thumb.

Cool Yeo's Crunchy Water Chestnut Soda. You probably weren't aware that soda could be crunchy, an idea that is almost uniquely unappealing. Well, not to worry: it's the original water chestnuts that are crunchy, not the soda. (Damn modifiers!) Water chestnuts are relatively inoffensive to me, but the drink was surprisingly disgusting. Maybe it was the huge chunks of water chestnut floating with the ice. This is so bad that Yeo's has eliminated it from their won website. They have disinherited their own creation.

Yeo's White Gourd Drink. What is a white gourd? Lord if I know, but this was the drink that upon purchase, the old Cantonese mom at the checkout began laughing her butt off. (Me: "What, are you saying I won't like it?") Now I know why: White gourd is the most evil, hateful flavor ever harvested by mankind. It tastes like vegetable broth mixed with molasses and caramelized sugar. It should be served cold as ice, like revenge. But if you are ever in dire need of an amateur ipecac, this is certainly the one.