Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I don't normally order puddings in Chinese restaurants. Or Indian ones for that matter. In fact, I tend to concur with Jeffrey Steingarten, who argued that Asian desserts taste as if they belong more properly in a lady's bathroom cabinet.

But, you see, I got myself this gig doing restaurant reviews and when you do that, you need to cover the menu. Deep-fried fruit salad sounded the least bad option, and the meal had, up to that point, been really rather good. As expected, the DFFS appeared to be some kind of fritter, and I cut into it with polite interest, if not quite enthusiasm.

"I'm not going mad, am I?"

Small Boo, to her credit, avoided the obvious retort.

"What's wrong?" she asked, feigning interest with great aplomb.

"I've got a horrible feeling that this is a crabstick."

"In your pudding?"

"In my pudding. It's meant to be a deep-fried fruit salad."

"Is there fruit?"

"Yes, there's fruit. Tinned fruit. I'm not sure what this sauce is. Cheese?"

"It's mayonnaise."

"Yes, I thought it might be, but I didn't like to say. I'm eating a crabstick and tinned fruit and mayonnaise fritter. For pudding."

The maitre d' was summoned. Hugely apologetic (and especially mortified when he discovered that I was meant to be writing the meal up), he explained the error. The fritter rather resembled a similar one from the dim sum menu. So a crabstick-tinned-fruit-mayonnaise fritter wasn't exactly a mistake - it was just in the wrong place.

"So what should have been in there?" asked Small Boo. "As a dessert?"

"The same," explained the man. "But no crabstick."

"And no mayonnaise, presumably."

"Oh yes, mayonnaise," he said. "That's how they like it in Hong Kong."

Sorry, there's no glorious punchline to this one. Except to record, for posterity, the fact that I ate a crabstick, tinned fruit and mayonnaise fritter for pudding and survived to tell the tale.

(It was horrible, by the way.)


Billy said...

After a Chinese or Indian my ideal puddding is a white Russian.

Jun Okumura said...

White Russians? Are you a cannibal, Billy?

Incidentally, they used to serve ice cream tempura at a place near my high school.

Anonymous said...

My ex's other half is Malaysian and a brilliant cook. But my other half has intimated that puddings are not where Malaysian cuisine excels. And not just because durian smells of poo, but odd combinations. Sweetcorn was a bad enhancement, for example. Chili not ideal either.

Betty said...

Geoff ordered a chicken curry in a pub in Devon (yeah, I know) and that turned up with crabsticks in it. He asked the landlord what they were doing in there.

"I ... I thought it would be a nice surprise" the bloke said. He looked really hurt.

When Screaming Lord Sutch died, he went on to become the leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party (the landlord, not Geoff).

Rimshot said...

You brave man.

I bow to your intestinal fortitude and willingness to 'take one for the team' as it were.

Annie said...

Holy mother of god. I'd always heard it was barbaric out there, but that takes the biscuit.

Congratulations on your reviewing gig. Or not, as the case may be.

patroclus said...

Great She Elephant, Tabby Rabbit and I once had a revolting pudding in a Japanese restaurant. It was sort of clear, slimy spaghetti with no discernible taste. Blurgh.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the ideal dessert for dieters if you ask me.

What did you say about it in your review?

Anonymous said...

No such thing as a free dinner!
But it's not a bad way to earn a living.

Tim F said...

Strangely, I know many Chinese people who, after a Russian meal, elect to refresh themselves with a Billy.

Durian smells more of farts than poo, I've always felt, Bib. But have you never tasted chilli and chocolate?

"A nice surprise", Betty? I've used that one, and I'm still under a restraining order as a result.

Barbaric, Annie? No. Just odd.

Was it konyaku, Patroclus? You're right, strange that something so bland can be so eeeccccchhhh.

I left it out of the review, Marsha, but knocked a point off the service.

I've volunteered to do What Massage Parlour? next, Mary.

Anonymous said...

I haven't, I haven't. But have seen it and always meant to have a go (and then remembered that chocolate is a sin so haven't bothered). So are you officially endorsing it?

Anonymous said...

I could have sworn I left a comment. (scratches head)

But stranger things have been happening, so...

You're a brave man for even attempting to taste that, far braver than me, as I would not have given a second thought to passing on the fruit with crustacean and mayo.

Tim F said...

Bib: Yes. But chocolate isn't a sin. Except for American chocolate, which is like fondling farm animals while listening to Genesis.

Jun/Rimshot: sorry, your comments temporarily slipped down the back of the metaphorical filing cabinet. Tempura ice cream sounds like Baked Alaska gone global. Baked Okinawa? And Rimshot, I'm sure you do braver things than I could ever manage every day. See my comment on American chocolate, for example.

FirstNations said...

*note to self-tim gets to keep the restaurant review gig too*

llewtrah said...

I love Indian desserts. In Brick Lane there are Indian sweetie shops. Most places here only offer kulfi, but sweet fritters and dumplings are yummers. In the Chinese restaurants I love the apple fritters. In Malaysia, pudding was a sugary drink with clear noodles in - rather nice really.

amyonymous said...

two things. one- while in a town outside York (can't remember the name of the town, sorry, but it was where Capt Cook sailed from?), my husband had a sandwich called a marie-rose prawn sandwich that was literally the worst thing he ever ate in his life: pink mayonnaise-like stuff with prawns swimming in it somewhere. yikes it looked awful.

second - chili and chocolate. here in LA we call it mole (as in mol-lay) and the sauce is put over enchiladas. this is one of my all-time favorite meals ever. Mole chicken enchiladas. I highly recommend them - if made by someone who knows how!

Tim F said...

I wish it were in your gift, FN. Although it's odd how soon something like this can become an imposition. Grrr... three free meals before Monday...

I just find them too sweet, Llewtrah. There's so much excellent fruit in the region that I don't know why they bother. And I don't like coconut much, which doesn't help.

Aaarghh, Amy, marie-rose sauce! Like thousand island dressing that's been pissed in! The ooze that holds a prawn cocktail together (and prepares you for the overdone rump steak and black forest gateau that follows, inevitably washed down with Blue Nun). British cooking. Yes. Well. And it's Whitby, I think. Where Dracula arrived, as well.

rockmother said...

I had a Thai pudding not so long ago - it was like someone had taken it upon themselves to melt an olive green 70's formica table and mix it with hot boiled leaves and vanilla - and then serve it as a creamy metallic cube. It tasted unctious. Oh god, I think I have turned into Will Self - so sorry but it was a pudding most foul.

Tim F said...

They usually are, RoMo. But I had a banana fritter in a Thai restaurant the other day that was light and fruity and delicious. Almost made up for the tourist slop that preceded it.