You know me, I could eat potato chips all day, and if there’s beer as well I could eat them all night as well. In fact, sometimes I feel I’m so addicted to them that I look for a salty snack that I like less, just so I eat less. Salted nuts don’t work because I can actually eat just as many nuts as I can chips, and they’re higher calorie, higher fat, and at least as high salt. Pretzels work to an extent: there’s a limit to how many I want to eat, but that’s only because I don’t really like them at all.
So when I was in downtown Los Angeles last week, I went to the Nijiya Market in Little Tokyo and bought a bag of amiyaki surume. Now that’s a sentence you don’t get to write every day.
For the uninitiated, such as myself, amiyaki translates as seasoned, and surume as squid, so what I bought was just a bag of seasoned squid. I love a good squid and I like dried fish, and you see the picture on the packaging of a little man with a squid hat, and what looks like a tankard of beer. Worth a try, no? Worth a try, yes.
I fact I looked at other squid snacks in the supermarket and many of them involved a lot of sugar, which I didn’t like the sound of. The top three ingredients in the pack I bought were squid, salt and monosodium glutamate, which would seem to guarantee something suitably savory. And although many of the ingredients sound pretty inscrutable “glycerin esters of fatty acids,” for instance, there was also citric acid. What could go wrong?
Well, in fact nothing went wrong at all. The seasoned squid was very good in its way. The seasoning was subtle, if perhaps too subtle. The overall effect was of eating a slightly salty, and (despite everything) a very slightly sweet, piece of fishy rubber: the tentacles were tastier than the body. True, the Loved One had a taste and began a mime of uncontrollable wretching but she is a sensitive and dramatic soul.
Seasoned squid goes down very well with a beer – and yes, there’s a real limit to how many I’d want to eat at one session. On the other hand it did kind of leave me craving some real potato chips, preferably salt and vinegar.