The Monkey Is In.

So be prepared. Bring a banana.

I'm a writer of horror and dark fiction. I've been doing this since 1999 and believe me when I say, it's cheaper than therapy and safer for the world at large.

Filtering by Tag: South Korea

Universal Yums November/December 2017 Review

As per usual, I got a little behind on my reviews. Partly from hubby's busy season at work but also I stared Invisalign in August. As of October, my teeth hurt pretty much all the time. Snacks that are too crunchy or chewy are impossible for me to eat so I can't try everything and I want to give as thorough a review as possible. Well, I still have 5 more months to go with Invisalign so I figured I'll do the best I can during that time and get back to detailed descriptions in the summer. 

For those who don't know, Universal Yums is a monthly subscription service. For $14/$25 each month, you'll get 6+/12+ snacks from a different country. Check them out here: UNIVERSALYUMS

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

NOVEMBER - TURKEY

Here's a little Turkey trivia for you (answer at the end of this section): We have Turkey's diverse climate to thank for bringing about which popular spring flower? A.Easter lilies; B.Daffodils; C.Tuplis; D.Azaleas

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First let's look at the stuff I haven't tried:

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Today Croissant with Thyme, Basil, and Olive Oil: Interesting fact, without the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey) the croissant never would have existed. The empire planned to attack Vienna in 1683 during the middle of the night using underground tunnels. The bakers in the city could actually hear them coming, since they were already awake and at work. They warned the Austrian army who fought off the attack. No reward wanted, the bakers instead baked bread in the shapes of crescents (the symbol on the Turkish flag) to celebrate the victory. How cool is that? Though I have to say the description on this snack didn't intrigue me and it felt VERY weighty for such a small treat. If the hubs ever eats it, I'll let you know if it's any good.

Clip Sesame Stick: Basically these seem like your basic breadstick completely covered in sesame seeds (they're based on the sesame encrusted bread normally served for breakfast). Crunchy sticks of bread are just too difficult for me but I image these taste pretty good.

Torku Cocoa Helva: I'm pretty sure we've had this type of sweet from half a dozen other countries. It's dry and crumbly but melts in your mouth. This is a sesame paste based sweet. According to the info card we DID get something similar in the Israel box so I just never got around to trying this one.

Miniki Turtacik: This was my favorite treat this month. The cookie was nice and the tangerine jelly was tart and sweet. Don't think I got much flavor from the sprinkles but that's okay. Divine cookie.

Baharatli Ulker Krispi Kraker: I was worried this might be too crunch but it definitely had a texture more like a Ritz, maybe a titch firmer. The flavor was great, too. Nice and salty and the spices were wonderful (onion, parsley, garlic, thyme).

Ibon Yogurt Candy: We got the banana flavor and it was yummy! It could have been chewy but I ended up sucking on it to soften it up and then my teeth could grind it down a bit. Very tasty.

Toffix Mastic: Mastic is made from tree sap and it takes a year to extract! It's a very unique flavor but I really enjoyed it. Tasted a little like bergamot (which is an oil from the bergamot orange peel) but really it's hard to describe the flavor. Did the same thing with the Ibon - I just sucked on this until it got soft (holy hell, really, Peggy?). Another tasty treat.

Miniki Milk Cream Chocolate Bar: This reminded me of a 3 Musketeers so much but a lot sweeter. If that's even possible...Nice soft texture but way too sweet, even for me. Not my favorite.

Torku Sade Mevlana Seker: These candies are nearly identical in texture to a butter mint (if you've never had one of those, you NEED to try them). These are made from sade (bergamot oil). Bergamot is used a lot in perfumes so when I say these things taste like perfume, that's why I mean. But not the alcohol and other additives - just like a slightly sweet and bitter mixture of orange. It's really unique and they are my 2nd favorite treat from Turkey!

TRIVIA: C.Tulips. We credit the Dutch for tulips but they actually originated in Turkey. Tulip bulbs brought to Europe from Istanbul in the 1500s were so intensely popular that by 1634 they had caused "tulipmania" in Holland. Aside from tulips, Turkey is also home to approximately 9,000 other species of plants!

DECEMBER - EVERYWHERE!

To wrap up 2017, the final box for UY contains a variety of snacks from a variety of countries - BUT NO REPEATS. Fucking A, man! Still have some trivia for you! (answer at the end of this post)

TRIVIA: Latvia claims to be the home of the very first_______? A.Christmas tree; B.Christmas stocking; C.Christmas carol; D.Christmas lights

(as of typing this I haven't tried any of these treats yet - I hope that will change over the next day or so)

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Garlic Straznicke Bramburky: These garlic chips are from the Czech Republic. Apparently garlic is thought to provide strength and protection and it's put under the chairs of your holiday guests. They're nice and thing chips so they're easy for me to eat. And they taste like garlic butter. Sooooo nice....

Brevas con Arequipe: Colombia includes figs as an essential part of their Christmas dinners. And this fig is stuffed with arequipe, caramelized condensed milk (kinda like dulce de leche). It's a little too sweet, even for me, so I can't say it's a favorite. At least it wasn't sticky!

Golden Flake Dill Pickle Chips: Leave it to America to turn a not-so-popular German Christmas ornament into a best seller. Woolworth's sold German ornaments since the 1880s but the fruit and veggie shapes (particularly the pickle) were not in high demand. So a salesman made up a story about German folks putting a pickle in their trees and the first person to find it would have good fortune in the coming year. How can we be so inventive and so gullable at the same time? And these do taste like straight up dill pickles. Awesome! But I can only eat a few at a time because the briny flavor does get overpowering.

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Hillier's Mini Christmas Puddings: In Australia, Christmas pudding is a hold-over tradition from their UK roots. This candy has the traditional fruits, nuts, and spices used in the pudding (sans the bread) and wraps it all in chocolate. Hillier founded the first Aussie chocolate company and was known for his creative chocolate fillings, as well as injecting his candies with booze to sneak it past the local governments!

Jabri Baklava: Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated on the last day of Ramadan and is known as the 'sweet' holiday. This is where you will find baklava during the celebration. Subhi Jabri & Sons is a famous restaurant in Amman, Jordan, where you will find this brand of baklava. If you've never had this confection before, WHAT THE EVER LOVING HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Yugwa Candy: South Korea has been making this candy since the year 918. Dayuuum. The making of this treat is regulated by the SK government and it MUST be made by a Korean Food Grand Master. Mr. Kim Kyu-Heun is the master who made the batch for this box. He's been studying the practice of yugwa making for over 20 years. And while I respect the tradition here, the snack itself doesn't really taste like much. Kinda like rice cake air with a little chewy sugar coating.

Mince Pie Candy: This English candy is based on the original mincemeat pie popular during the 12th century, sans the meat. You will find traditional spices of the time (cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg) plus chocolate. I didn't really get the chocolate flavor off it but the spices were wonderful.

TRIVIA ANSWER: A.Christmas tree. Germany is usually given credit for the Christmas tree but the first recorded use was in 1510 in Riga, the vapial of Latvia! Maybe we should be singing, "Ak, Ziemassvetku eglites" instead of "O, Tannenbaum"?

That wraps up 2018! Hope you all stick around for my less in-depth reviews for a while and I promise I'll be back at full strength by summer (barring any horrendous complications!).

Universal Yums July 2017 Review

I guess 2:30am is as good a time as any to write up this review!

For those who don't know, Universal Yums is a monthly subscription service. For $14 or $25, you'll get 6+ or 12+ snacks from a different country in each box. Check them out here: UY

I purchase this box with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones.

This month's goodies come from South Korea! Here's a little trivia for you before we get to the snacks (answer at the end of the post). Koreans who win Olympic medals do not have to: A.Pay taxes; B.Join the military; C.Follow the speed limit; D.Pay child support

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I'll start off with the snack with no picture, because the hubs and I split it and both ate our halves in about 18 seconds.

Lotte Chocolate Rice Cake: This is not like the crunchy rice cakes we have here. This was like mochi. Think two layers of mochi as the outside 'cookies', a chocolate filling between them, and the whole thing covered in chocolate. Might sound odd but holy balls this was probably THE best snack in the whole box.

Tteok-bokki Snack: I've seen the street food this snack is based on in a lot of the K-dramas I watch. I've always wanted to try it. And though I know it's not crunchy like this stuff, if the flavor is anything similar, I'd be happy to eat myself into a coma!

Lotte Moncher Creme Pie: I thought this would be like a moon pie, which is what the Korean Choco Pie is, but the filling is not like that marshmallowy crap (sorry Moon Pie fans). This is a smooth delicious creme center between layers of soft cake and covered in chocolate. So delicious!

Scorched Rice Candy: Somehow Korea has figured out how to make burnt rice taste good. And it's in this little candy. I also taste a little burnt popcorn going on, which probably comes from the corn flavor mixing with the scorched rice. Doesn't matter to me because it tastes pretty dang good.

Malang Strawberry Candy: This has a similar texture to a Hi-Chew but it's much softer, more fluffy like a marshmallow. It's also kinda bland and boring and not all that special.

Choco Heim: It's another wafer style cookie (really there's no flavor - it's like a communion wafer) that's filled with a hazelnut chocolate creme. Tastes good though!

Kook Hee Biscuit: These are what Nutter Butters SHOULD taste like! Not sugary sweet, the cookies and creme filling are perfect together. There are bits of peanuts in the filling, too!

Bulgogi Ppushu Ppushu Snack: Forgot to take a pic of this one, too, because I haven't tried it yet (it's the big yellow bag on the right in the very first pic). This is one of those dry ramen noodle snacks. But this one you smash up, while it's still in the bag, then open it and sprinkle the flavor packet over it. Um...okay.

Anytime Milk Candy: These things kinda sucked. You can see the different layers in the pic. The outside ones are mint and the middle is milk. Very odd and displeasing taste combination.

BONUS: The UY folks included a bonus item this month of Korean chopsticks. You might notice that they are metal and not wood, like every other Asian country. There's a long history behind it. Short story - royals in the Baekje period (18BC-660AD) used metal because it would change colors if anyone poisoned their food. Eventually it became a status symbol then available and used by all. Cool, huh?

Pretty good box I think. Just a few duds for me but that's not unusual. The clue for next month might be Colombia. We'll have to wait and see!

TRIVIA: B. If a male athlete wins an Olympic medal, he doesn't have to complete his required military service (Korean women are not required to serve). This puts added pressure on athletes because, for many of them, if they don't win a medal, it means they must give up their professional athletic careers to complete the 21-month mandatory service.

3B October 2016 Review

Even though I got this a few weeks ago, I haven't had time to try any of the products. So this post will basically just tell you what I got. For those who don't know, 3B is a monthly subscription service. For $15 (they recently raised their price on the month to month option - goes down to $12 if you sign up for the whole year at once) you get 4-5 sample, sometimes full-sized, Asian beauty, hair, and skin care products. They now have a store front, too. Check them out here: 3B

I purchase this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones.

Todak Todak Pack - Pore Care: I got a different kind in another 3B bag but like I said in my Morgue Drawer post, I didn't really get full use of it. I hope to with this one, especially since my pores are the size of Nebraska. Full size and costs $4. (CF)

Neogence Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Lotion: I'm all about face lotions, man. I love trying new ones, especially the hydrating ones. Just because I have oily skin does NOT mean it's hydrated. And now with winter coming, this will be (I hope) very useful. 180mls is $20 so this 30mls sample should run around $6.50. (?)

Lador Damage Protector Acid Shampoo: Right now I don't have dry and damaged hair. But since I plan to get it mostly all cut off, I'll probably be styling it more often. This shampoo contains argan oil that helps to protect hair against heat damage. Hmmm...This is full size and runs $10. (?)

When 10:00pm Sheet Mask: You all know how much I love me some sheets masks. Seems like this might have that gel or jelly texture that I've used before and is awesome. The people at 3B tested this and claimed their skin felt great the next morning. Challenge Accepted! This is full size and costs $7. (?)

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Deep Cream: Again, I'm all about the moisturizer. This thick lotion seems like it will be perfect as a night cream as we head into winter - not heavy or greasy. I seem to have a lot of luck with EH products so fingers crossed. Full sized 75ml costs $20 so this 10ml sample runs around $2.50 or so. (CF but ships to China)

Over all looks like this bag is worth about $30. Not too bad considering I will probably get good use from everything!

Universal Yums October/November 2015

Let's take a two country tour this month, shall we? As I stated in my Morgue Drawer post, October got away from me so we're going to need to combine some monthly reviews here!

Universal Yums, for those who may not know, is a monthly subscription service that sends you snack foods from around the world! Each month is a different county. You can either sign up for the Yum Box ($13) or the Yum Yum Box ($25). Check them out for yourselves!  http://www.universalyums.com/  (I purchase this service with my own money and all reviews are my honest opinions and not bought and paid for. I'm not as shill.)

October 2015 - The Netherlands

So much good stuff...We haven't eaten all of the goodies yet. And when I say 'we' I mean 'me'. I've tried everything but the stroopwaffel wafers that you're supposed to put on top of a cup of steaming hot joe and let the heat warm up the creamy center. The Meller caramel candies taste a lot like Milk Duds but with a fudgy center. The windmill cookies were dry and rather tasteless; the coffee hopjes are excellent; the Advocat chews tasted like sweet cream (nice); two mints - King and Princess were pretty basic mints though I liked the princess ones a little better; the paprika chips were the first to go. They tasted like basic potato chips to me but not as greasy as what you normally find here. 

I'm trying the raspberry wineballs now and it seems like they have the same center as a Zot . The flavor is sour and sweet with that fizzy middle seeping out. Kinda cool. The one thing I haven't tried yet is the Licorice Balls because I believe there's salt in the center. Yep, you read that right. Salt. I'm scared...

(as I'm editing this review I'm sucking on a licorice ball. The outside is actually savory, not sweet at all. And the salt center....AAAGGGH! UGH! *cough* *sputter* Throw it in the trash...)

This seemed like an average box. I happy with most of the stuff in here!

And on to November 2015 - South Korea

WOO! Anyone who knows me knows how addicted I am to Korean Dramas and Korean culture. And now I'm getting more into K-Pop...but that's neither here nor there! Here's the box.

I've tried all but one item from this box. The Choco wafers are ok. Like those sugar wafers with the cream center you can get here. Maybe these are a little drier but the flavor is nice. The Milk Strawberry candy is great. Tastes like a strawberry milkshake! The Plum Candy is also excellent. Very good flavor. Almond Pepero is basically Pocky with chocolate and almond coating. Yummy! The soft walnut candy is fantastic! Tastes like a sweetened walnut but chewy instead of crunchy. So  good! I was really excited for the Choco Pie because I've seen it pop up in a few Korean dramas. It's basically like a moon pie but smaller (which is fine) and much drier (not fine). I was a little disappointed. I haven't had the Tiramisu Cupcake yet but it looks wonderful.

The only other thing I tried were the Peanut Squid Balls. Yes...they love their squid over in Asia and apparently peanuts and squid are a popular combination. The description calls it a 'palatable squid aftertaste' and that's about as accurate as you can be. The balls are crispy and the peanut in the center is basically a peanut. There's a soft filling surrounding the peanut but I don't know if that's where the squid taste come in or if it's in the balls (oy, this post is getting dirty). It is a very subtle after taste but I just don't get the combo here. I think it's off putting, even though it's mild. I think without the peanut it would be fine or leave out the squid and the peanut flavor is fine. Just...not together.

This was an okay box. Some of the snacks were great and others were just so so. I still love this idea of snack food from across the globe so I'm gonna stick with it for a while!