Sometimes it’s worth travelling outside your comfort zone, because you never know where your travels will take you. This week’s Star2 Monthly Challenge #Squealmeal was one of those great adventures – a sensory journey that plunged into the depths of one of life’s great unfathomables: stinky food.
In an effort to make it a communal experience, we roped in as many Star2 super troupers as we could find, plying their palates with a range of stinky cheeses and pongy Asian delicacies to suss out if stench really does trump taste.
The long list of stinkers included French cheeses like Reblochon, Roquefort, Epoisses, Brie, Camembert, Munster, Fourme d’ Ambert, Saint Marcellin and Comte. There was also the Italian Taleggio cheese and the English Blue Stilton.
On the Asian front, there were local delicacies like tempoyak, cincalok and stinky tofu as well as the Japanese natto.
Star2 staffers who took on the challenge had a variety of largely hilarious responses, most related to the nefarious Munster cheese.
“The Munster cheese smelt like urine – I was actually okay with the taste but the smell was just overpowering,” said Features deputy editor Melody L. Goh.
Journalist Angelin Yeoh also had an acute response to the Munster. “I assumed that due to its creamy texture, it would taste all right. Instead, it had this overwhelming bitter flavour. Then the taste overstayed its welcome on my tongue and I was tempted to ask it to start paying rent,” she said.
Chief reporter Sharmila Nair echoed the sentiments of her colleagues and said, “Right after I took the first bite of Munster, I had a nagging feeling that one of my colleagues was trying to poison me and make it look like an accident!”
Others had more measured responses. Like Terence Toh, who said, “I liked some of the cheeses: the Brie and Comte were really nice, and the flavour and texture of Epoisses was great on the tongue, unlike its super-hard-to-pronounce name. Roquefort, on the other hand, tasted like fermented cigarettes.”
Deputy editor of the Commercial Unit, Patsy Kam has plenty of experience eating cheese so she couldn’t even tell that the cheeses on the platter had funky smells. The only thing she probably wouldn’t attempt again? The tempoyak. “I wasn’t crazy about it – the smell was really off-putting, even though it actually tasted fine,” she said.
I also tasted everything on the platter and aside from the Munster – which I agree was quite monstrous – the other edibles actually tasted quite nice.
It’s really mind over matter in this instance, because once you get past the various smells that permeate every square inch of space around you, you’ll soon discover a whole litany of multi-textured food that you would never even have thought to attempt before.
So, if you’d like to take both your olfactory nerves and your palate on a wild ride, please do. I guarantee the journey will provide sensory rewards you could never have imagined in your wildest dreams.
Think you’re an adventurous eater? Prove it! Send a video or picture of you eating something you fear to the Star2.com Facebook page. Tag Star2.com and include the hash tags #Squealmeal and #Star2 Monthly Challenge. The three best entries will each win a pair of passes to the Offaly Good Feast, a multi-course offal dinner, presented by The French Culinary School in Asia director Jean Michel Fraisse on Dec 9.