Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Not Your Average Marshmallow

Up until two years ago I consistently spelled "marshmallow" wrong. It's that A, man. No one ever sees it coming. I bring this up because, until last week, this was my most interesting bit of marshmallow news. Wanna make marshmallow small talk? Challenge me with "marshmallow" at the Seattle adult spelling bee? No
problem. I can contribute this little nugget. But now...now! Breaking marshmallow news. Can you tell I miss reporting? 

I was shopping in the international grocery store, a place I had completely forgotten about and only visited once many months before. The shelves are stocked with items I hadn't seen in ages: garbanzo beans, tortilla chips, sauerkraut. Who knew I could go weak in the knees over a jar of kosher dill pickles? 

I had just set a sack of oh-my-God-they-have-granola in my cart when a bag of marshmallows caught my eye. There, next to the regular whites and pastels, were coffee flavored marshmallows. Beside them? Marshmallows flavored with Darjeeling Tea. Ooh! I marveled at their uniqueness, held the packages in my hands for a while, took a few photos, but not being a fan of "raw" marshmallows I set them back on the shelf. Like most normal Americans, I prefer my marshmallows with a healthy crust of black carcinogen, topped with melting Hershey's chocolate and squeezed between two graham crackers. These are best eaten with a little dirt under the fingernails and a beanie covering one's head.

But today I went back. How did I forget I have a camping trip planned for next month? Camping trip = marshmallows! My camping companion is from New Zealand and not only has he never tried a s'more, he'd never even heard of one. This must and will be remedied. I threw a bag of each flavor in my basket and vowed to keep them sealed until I was sitting in front of a campfire.

Cut to me in the store's parking lot, ripping open the bag of Darjeeling like a male stripper rips open his cop uniform in a suburban living room full of cougars. "Just one," I told myself. Ok, two. Mmmm, these are really good. Three. Dammit! Four. At every red light I reached into my bike basket, guiltily unrolled the bag, and popped a marshmallow into my mouth. "Ok, this is the last one." Five. Six. Seven. Eight.

I had no idea they would be so good. Perfectly chewy, not overly sticky or sweet, they actually taste like they've been steeped in Darjeeling tea. Would it be so wrong if I finished off the bag while writing the last three paragraphs?

While I would truly love to end this story here, tied up nice and neat, this is a Japanese product so please allow me to share a couple of things printed on the label.

First, the ever present slogan. They love a good Engrish slogan in Japan. Under the word "marshmallows" it reads: Your favorite tea time partner that warms your heart with the soft and sweet delight. I would have let this go if it weren't for the photograph on the back of the bag, suggesting how to best enjoy these soft and sweet delights. On a lovely white platter, next to a cup of tea, the marshmallows are arranged on top of Ritz and Saltine crackers. Each one is topped with what appears to be a little dollop of a) caviar b) jelly c) cheese d) frosting or e) fruit. A little herb garnish hovers above each one and red holly berries add color to the platter's corners.

I like to imagine the stay-at-home Japanese Stepford wives, buzzing away in their tiny kitchens, preparing a lovely little afternoon tea for their galpals. Keiko breezes into the living room with a platter of marshmallow, caviar, cheese, mint, Saltine canapes.The ladies gasp and cover their mouths with delight. "Oh Keiko!" they cry, "These tea partners warm my heart!"