V-Day 2020: Cultural References and All the Fixins

Huzzah and Hello, weirdos! Today marks the fifth annual Weird Valentine Gift post here at WriterJax, and this year is a good one. It’s almost as though society in general has, somehow, become more accepting of the fringe.

I kid. Still, as we head toward VD 2020, I give you five contenders for holiday gift-giving. Go forth and browse to your heart’s content!

Don’t Torture Yourself, Gomez.

Send your favorite horror-file, or least-favorite-person in general, a bouquet of Dirty Rotten Flowers this year, like The Morticia arrangement below. Bonus: the testimonial page on this website is gold, Jerry. Gold.

You Had Me at Au Gratin

For the pun-tacular person in your life who’s all ears, I give you the Potato Parcel. This item was actually featured on Shark Tank and has been sending spuds around the world ever since, including those adorned with photos of the recipient.

Couple Goals

No one knows ’til death do we part like Jack and Sally. Let’s celebrate that love with gaudy-ass jewelry.

Put Some Pink in your Drink

This is too pretty not to share: pink chai tea from Lee.

The Rest is Gravy

No Valentines Day is complete without something unctuous, and when it comes to unctuous, I always vote gravy.

Weird October Food 2018: The DIY Edition

Here we go — my favorite post of the year! The annual round-up of all the weird things I can find happening in the culinary scene during the witching season.

This post always takes a different turn, and this year, it’s a decidedly do-it-your-damn-self kind of list.

Bone In

Take, for instance, the Skeleton Table trend. A few years ago, it was all about Meatheads, but this takes the undead party-platter idea a few femurs further by filling a skeleton’s rib cage with delicious fixin’s. In my research, I found appetizer corpses, dinner bladders, and gut-busting desserts, all laid out in situ.

Thanks for sticking with me through the puns there.

Noodle Nocturne

Squid ink ramen

The trend of black or blackened foods has come up here before, but never before have I stumbled on something so beautiful as Daniel Gritzer’s Halloween Ramen Bowl.

It’s right in the pocket of what I love to write about this time of year — not kitsch, but pure yumminess of the season. Plus, his post lead me to a few otherHalloween Ramenrecipes, including a pumpkin ramen, Hell Ramen, and Dracula Ramen.

Patient Churro

Another hot take on party food I’ve seen recently are Zombie Nachos — especially of the dessert variety. A little cinnamon, a little sugar, a drizzle of raspberry pie filling, and bwa-ha-ha-la.

Of course, if you’re more a fan of the savory undead, there are several more appetizer-centric versions of the zombie nacho platter.

Sleepy Swallows

There’s never a shortage of creepy cocktail ideas this time of year, and it can be hard to pick just one out of the endless recipes for embalming fluid, witches brew, and pumpkin punch.

I thought this sipper looked pretty smokin’, though (sorry, sorry), with a dash of gothic literary charm: the Sleepy Hollow Cocktail, featuring absinthe, Angostura bitters, and a sprig of rosemary set to smudge. This (frankly delightful) blog also has a Raven cocktail and another called Nosferatu’s Blood, for those looking to make a night of it. But I also found a few other Sleepy Hollow drink recipes, plus an Ichabod Crane, so I this may be a head-start on a great themed party.

2018 October Food Trends Spotted at:

In Katrina’s Kitchen

SeriousEats

Jewels of New York

Shaken Together Life

October Food 2017: The ‘Seriously though, what’s in this’ Edition

Every year around this time, I enter my altered state by the light of the moon…and start researching for my annual October Food post. As the winds howl outside, you’ll find me: traipsing around the internet trying to uncover weird-ass eating trends from all over the world.

2017’s quest did not disappoint. Four trends bobbed to the top of the bucket of tepid water and apples for me this year; they all tempt the Pinterest Fail Fates, but most new and wacky things do. Plus, they seem to suggest that the act of celebrating — and promoting — off-the-wall edibles in October is still decidedly undead.

So, queue up your Amazon orders for lime-green fondant and dry ice, and scroll on for the picks.

The Blackening

This year’s blackened food of choice appears to be ice cream. Further, the blackening agent du jour appears to be charcoal — black sesame paste and squid ink are also options. The greater story here is the trend of activated charcoal as a health food, and as such, a sudden glut of cuisine noir, if you will. If dairy isn’t your thing, it’s just as easy to pick up a loaf of black bread, a glass of black lemonade, or super-dark dim sum.

Spotted at: The Daily Press

One Bite and All Your Dreams Will Come True

The Poison Apple is popping up all over Pinterest, not to mention at Disney Parks coast-to-coast, and there are oh-so-many interpretations. It can be an actual apple, or a cookie, or a cake pop… the poisoning options are endless. Not literally.

Here’s one great how-to from Eat the Trend:

Spotted at: Food & Wine

Break Me Off a Piece of that Momiji Manju Bar

There’s an entire economy growing around the Kit Kat bar, beginning in Japan and spreading westward fast. Virtually anyone worldwide can order customized flavors, personalized wrappers, and elaborate gift-wrapping from a Kit Kat off-shoot dubbed the Chocolatory — and that’s in addition to 300 readily available flavors including purple potato, wasabi, sake, and momiji manju — a nod to a steamed bun filled with red bean jelly.

Stateside, pumpkin-pie-flavored Kit Kats have arrived, joining the previously released Halloween Kit Kats – which are just regular Kit Kats in orange and white, but still fun.

Spotted at: The Jakarta Post

Meet Me at The Leaky Cauldron

Harry Potter-themed sundries aren’t a new thing, but they seem to be reaching a fever pitch lately. For one, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London is hosting a Dark Arts Dinner this year; it’s slated to span two nights and include such entrees as shin and bone marrow croquettes and forest mushroom mille feuille.

The Potter-esque drink menu is also endless and ever-expanding: for example, the Felix Felicis cocktail above is a solid step up from a butterbeer — arguably — and I was also impressed by this Patronus Punch made with fresh mint and a black light.

For dessert, Chocolate Frog molds totally exist, and so do printables to make the special purple candy boxes from Honeydukes.

Bonus… I was also reminded of a few past Oscar-party entries from my own annual fete, which were clearly before their Potterlicious time:

Hairy Pudding and the Half-blood Prints

Hairy Pudding and the Half-blood Prints

Oscar Party  2010

Harry Potter and the Half-nut Cookies

Fantastic Meats and Where to Find Them

Spotted at: Buzzfeed

The Japanese Have It: Weird Food 2016

I didn’t set out to have all of my ‘weird food’ options for 2016 be from Japan.

I’ve done that kind of list before, you see, so I hoped for another direction this year.

I tried and tried. I checked out Scandinavia. I looked for Indonesian oddities. I even scoured the darker nooks and crannies of ‘Murrica for all of the strange, edible things we can put in our mouths this time of year.

But Japan has more than a corner on this market… They own the whole damn store. That said, here is the decidedly Island-Nation-Derived Blogtoberfest Weird Food List for 2016. Doumo arigatou.

1. I say potato, you say pumpkin spice

 

Here, Japan dips its collective toe into the western theme of pumpkin spice everything. Japanese McDonalds restaurants have added Pumpkin Spice French Fries to their Halloween menus, and they’re not even an entirely new creation, having been inspired by the ‘McChoco Potato’ side dish that already exists.  While McChoco Potato is a basket of fries drizzled with white and milk chocolate sauce, the pumpkin spice fries (aka Halloween Choco Potato) are doused with milk chocolate and an as-of-yet-unidentified orange ‘pumpkin sauce.’ Thanks to the Angry Mancave podcast for the tip on this one.

2. Hipster Vampire Repellent

 

In Japan, but not in the mood to go out? Settle in with a big ole bag of black garlic pepper Doritos. These are jet-black tortilla chips with a garlic dusting… actually doesn’t sound too bad, although I’m not clear on what is actually making the chip black. Props to ‘ritos for the vampire illustration on the packaging, though.

3. That’s Yamtastic

 

Eggs n’ Things sounds like a New England breakfast chain, but it’s actually a ‘Hawaiian Casual’ dining giant in Japan that specializes in pancakes. They’ve put a twist on their signature item this month by turning them purple. How, you ask? With sweet potato paste, of course. The ‘cakes are then nestled in a raspberry ‘sea of blood’ and served with a ‘Halloween Special Drink’ (can we get marketing on this name, please) – blue lemonade with a syringe filled with strawberry sauce.

4. Over My Dead Cheeseburger

 

Not to be outdone, another Japanese chain — Lotteria — has introduced its own purple-sauced creation with the Purple Magic Bacon Double Excellent Cheeseburger.” I’d say the real star of this meal is the wagging bacon-tongue protruding from the bun if it wasn’t for a similar burger making headlines a few years ago. So the spoils have to go to the packaging: a hopefully not-forboding coffin for a box, plus a smiling vampire wrapper. You can also order a shake with a photo-prop-ready straw on the side.

5. I scream, because your ice cream is glowing

 

Fun Fact: Did you know Baskin Robbins is known simply as ’31 Flavors’ or ’31’ in Japan? I’m surprised North America hasn’t gone that route yet. But I’m not surprised that we have yet to fully embrace its newest flavor offering: glow-in-the-dark sundaes. Apparently, yes it really glows in the dark (though, why are we eating ice cream in the dark?) and tastes a little like a melon soda, which is also a thing.  31 also unveiled the “Extremely Hot Spicy Chocolate I Scream Sundae” this month, which is spiced with a habanero chocolate sauce hot enough to be served on the side in a separate packet.

Halloween Food IV: The Savory and the Sweet

Halloween Food III: The Fearsome Five

Halloween Food II: Gee, Your Food Looks Haunted

Halloween Food I: OctoFood

Note- the feature photo of the bloated chocolate faces used for this post was actually borrowed from a Weird Valentines post.