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Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Day" of Coconut #4: Micoco

There are Weird sodas which make you want to quaff them with desperate longing. Somewhere out there, there's a cherry-pear-vanilla cream soda, moderately carbonated, with cane sugar and agave. It'll taste like summer. It will swirl opalescently in the glass bottle, glowing faintly with its own inner radiance. That is the Ultimate Weird Soda, and I will someday approach it at sunset, winding my horn, to do some unimaginable final Quaffing.

Then there are Weird sodas which you have to quaff despite the fact that they are almost certainly going to be vile. To quaff all that is quaffable is your calling, and that includes the barely-quaffable but very Weird. These are the ones which, once you have recovered, find you clinging to a spare bit of furniture, gnashing your teeth and bemoaning the fate which led you to open that bottle/can/crate/whatever.

And then there are the ones which simultaneously intrigue and frighten you. They might be okay. They might even be good, but that's not why you have them. You have them because there was something compellingly Weird about them, something which compels you. You can't look away. You find yourself coming back to them, imagining the quaffing to come.

I invite you to look at this, Micoco, the fourth and last of the coconut-based sodas on this ever-lengthening Day of Coconut, and see which you think it is.

Errrr....that had better not be backwash.

Keep in mind when looking at that picture that those floating bits of...stuff...don't move. Ever. I think that's what I noticed first about Micoco; the floating bits are perfectly motionless. They must be almost perfectly neutrally buoyant. I'm not sure what to make of that. I had this bottle of Micoco in the Lab fridge for weeks, and they didn't settle to the bottom. As far as I could tell, they didn't shift at all.

I did consider the possibility that the liquid part of the Micoco was more of a gel, and was holding them in place--but no, when you swirl the bottle, they move. They then gradually settle into a new configuration, and stay there, holding perfectly still. There's an almost Zen-like quality about them; points of perfect stillness, neither sinking nor rising, but simply existing in their place. They are neither immobile nor mobile; they move when their surroundings move, let return to a state of equilibrium immediately when their bottle becomes still.

I thought about heating the bottom and seeing if I could get it to act like a circulating glitter lamp, but feared doing so might alter the taste.

In any case, this is a Weird phenomenon, and so I'm gonna quaff it. I have this image of bits of (presumably) coconut pulp floating, perfectly motionless, in my digestive tract, being slowly moved along. Perhaps I will acquire some of that stillness.

Where and when: Appeared in a mysterious flash of blue light on the Lab table, March 2011*.
Color: Cloudy, ever-so-slightly yellow-gray, transparent enough to observe the floating bits of coconut pulp and their unsettling immobility.
Scent: Wow. Very weird. Not really sweet at all-faint, slightly bready or even meaty. More like pot roast, maybe? With potatoes.
JAT: "It doesn't really smell like anything, just a slightly limey-coconut."
K-i-C: *extravagant grimace* "I was thinking slightly of spitup. Not vomit, mind you."
Me: "So like baby spitup?"
K-i-C: "Yeah."
LAT: "I see what the K-i-C is saying. I liked it better smelling it through the bottle."
K-i-C: "That's because you couldn't smell it as much."

The smell is pretty foul, actually. I don't get spitup--I still think it's more like a roast potato--but I see what she means.

Taste: K-i-C: *immediately spits it back into the cup*
LAT: "Almost...kind of...creamy. Kind of creamy starch? Ewwww."
Ugh. The texture is fairly thick, slightly syrupy but not sticky. The taste is much sweeter than the smell. Tastes a little bit like pancake batter.
LAT: "I don't like it at all."
K-i-C: "I think my opinion is fairly clear."

*sip* Whoa...ugh. I actually almost spit that sip out. It's sweet, thick, and vaguely starchy. If it were chunky, it would be sort of like a sweet porridge. It's...

LAT: "Upsetting?"

Yeah. That's a good word for it. This is an upsetting beverage. It's really quite sweet, but with a nasty undercurrent of starchiness/slight saltiness, and a texture like a thin cornstarch soup. Between the weird taste and disturbing texture, it's enough to make me want to spit it out too. So, naturally, I'm going to have another sip. Because that's what I do.
*restrain urge to vomit*

Oh...good gracious God.

Maybe I don't like coconut as much as I thought.
Interestingly, the label says it's imported from Thailand by the "Squalo Trading Company". I note that "Squalo" is just a letter short of "Squalor", which is the image in my mind.
Just beneath that is a cartoon of a person tossing a beverage container backwards over his head. I would assume that that is a suggestion to recycle, but the container is not labeled as such. Thus, I have decided that it is, instead, a suggestion subtly worked onto the label by someone involved in the bottling process, urging the consumer to dispose of this stuff before drinking it. The blissful smile on the cartoon person's face suggests that his decision has filled him with a sense of peace and contentment. I, too, once had such a look on my face. About ten minutes ago.

But I am the Quaffmaster, and contentment is not my ka.

At least now I know about the floating bits of pulp. Their Zen-like calm is not a result of perfect equanimity, or of unit with the universe. It's the stillness of a praying mantis, waiting for the perfect moment to strike as a newborn butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. They are floating bits of evil, waiting for the stars to be right. On that day, they shall spring into dreadful and portentous motion indeed.

Quaff rating: The flavor is interesting and unusual, in the sense that nobody should make any of it ever again. 1.5.
Cough rating: I've had worse, but not a whole lot of them. 3.5.

* Actually, The rest of the Lab staff got this one for me at Stater Brothers, Vista, CA

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Day" of Coconut #3: Goya Coconut Soda

We continue in our voyage through the seas of Coconut Weirdness today with a quaffing of Goya's Coconut Soda. This comes to us in an attractive green bottle, with an appealing picture of a coconut. It also bears the sobering and stark warning "ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS". This is interesting; most sodas boldly claim "No artificial flavors!", or humbly admit "Natural and artificial flavors" (while averting their eyes and mumbling like an embarrassed adolescent). This one say "Yeah, my flavors are artificial. All of them. Every single one a proud product of human-supervised synthetic chemistry. I'm post modern, baby, a techno-thriller that'll assimilate your taste buds."

A green bottle of synthetic goodness.
This soda is proud of its heritage in a vat somewhere in New Jersey.
Or maybe not; there is no ingredient label or nutritional info present. I have no idea what this contains. It might never have been close to a coconut. It might conceivably contain axle grease. Or powdered hummingbird. Or swarms of nanobots which will restructure my intestines into a 1:100 scale model of Notre Dame.
But does it taste like coconut?

Where and when: Given to me by ChopChop in March 2011.
Color: Completely transparent, no color.
Scent: Very faint. I suspect it's supposed to smell like coconut meat, but it doesn't quite. It's got a sharp, kind of acrid feel high in the nose. Sweet undertone.
K-i-C: *grimace* "Stinky."

Taste: The initial taste is sweet, but with an odd acid background. The taste of shredded sweetened coconut meat is clear. It's also somewhat reminiscent of cotton candy.
K-i-C: "Tastes fine. Doesn't have much of a flavor at all, actually. I just taste sugar and carbonation."
This surprises me.I wouldn't have guessed that this would please the Kibbitzer, given her dislike of coconut and soda. Perhaps she has become too jaded.
It's much more like a typical soda than the Amy and Brian juices, both because it is carbonated and because of the much stronger sweetness.
A larger sip produces a stronger acid/tart feel, which is not a good thing.
Wyvern: "Even less pumpkin-y." (than the other two juice-based ones)

Quaff rating: Fairly tasty, if a bit tart. 3.0
Cough rating: Nothing too terrible. 0.5.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Day" of Coconut #2: Amy and Brian All Natural Coconut Juice with Lime

One of the problems with dealing with advanced science like Weird Soda Reviewing is that you sometimes encounter odd phenomena. For example, when reviewing the previous coconut-based beverage, I intended that all four of the candidates would be reviewed in the same epic Day of Coconut.
Oddly enough, the seriousness of this undertaking led to an unusual phenomenon. Given that seriousness can be referred to as "gravity", we inadvertently increased the local gravitational field. Thus, to an outside observer, time in the Lab (where we were undergoing a task with such immense gravitas) seemed to slow relative to those observers (i.e. y'all). Hence, while it may seem as though more than one day has gone by in your reference frame since the review of the previous coconut juice, rest assured that this is simply an alteration in apparent time brought about by the immense gravity of the situation, and in actuality, we are still in the Day of Coconut.

Plus, the slower passage of time should lower the pitch of sounds. So while you read this, make sure to imagine it being spoken in a very deep, impressive bass voice. James Earl Jones would do nicely.

Anyway, we're now going to review another Amy and Brian Coconut Juice. Their other one was, simply, coconut juice. You may recall that I found it somewhat disturbing*. As it turns out, the Kibbitzer-in-Chief (much to my surprise) found it refreshing and pleasant. I sometimes really don't understand her.**

Well, Amy and Brian have an alternative available, presumably for those who find the straight-up coconut juice insufficiently tangy. Today, it's Coconut Juice with Lime. Fortunately, it is still (according to the can) isotonic, so my cells shouldn't burst or shrink or anything.

Now with Lime!

Where and when: Purchased at some point at Frazier Farms market, in Vista, CA
Color: Much like the plain coconut juice, but cloudier and ever-so-slightly tinged with green, making it a pale yellow-green.
Scent: Interesting. The tartness of the lime is very evident, overlaying the ever-so-slightly sweet/salty smell of the coconut juice. Reminiscent of lemon-lime Gatorade, but stronger and lime-ier.
Taste: The initial taste is sweet, but less coconutty than the plain coconut juice. The lime/citrus is strong, but adds nicely to the sweet. The best news is that the musky, sweaty aftertaste of the plain juice is less present here. The initial sweetness does still fade into a somewhat musky, melony complex aftertaste, but it's less icky than the plain juice--significantly so. It does linger a bit.


Yes, this is definitely better, at least as far as my preferences are concerned. It's still not something I would greedily seek out and chug, but it's better.

I wonder how Amy and Brian came to decide that lime was the proper additive.

The Kibbitzer-in-Chief informs me that I shouldn't expect coconut juice to taste like coconut meat, and that this muskiness is normal and appropriate for coconut juice. How unfortunate for coconuts.

Quaff rating: Interesting complexity, and the flavor isn't bad. 3.0
Cough rating: Much less likely to make me gag. 1.5.

*"I find your flavor disturbing." Now imagine it in James Earl Jones' voice. Yeah.

**On the other hand, the superiority of her aesthetic judgment over mine is well-established and beyond question, so you may want to keep that in mind.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day of the Coconut #1: Amy & Brian All Natural Coconut Juice

I've got a bubbly bunch of coconuts.
There they are a-standin' in a row.
Canned ones, glass ones, some with odd floaty bits
I'll do a review, and when I am through,
I'll probably call it quits.*

It has been my observation that people feel strongly about coconut. I'm fond of it, myself--macaroons are good, and a nice Mounds bar** always lifts my spirits. The Kibbitzer-in-Chief, on the other hand, loathes coconut. She will break into headlong, panicked flight at the appearance of pina colada Jelly Bellies.
Being who I am, my first impulse upon preparing to write this group of reviews was to do some reading about coconuts. I learned that they are fruits rather than nuts***, and that not many people are killed by falling coconuts each year. Apparently, the "coco" part of the name probably refers to a type of boogeyman in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking cultures, which would abduct or devour disobedient children. The three "eyes" of the coconut look something like a skull, or somehow were reminiscent of this mythical tool of frustrated parents.

We can be glad that our name for this fruit derives from Romance languages, as I guess the Anglicized equivalent could well have been "Boogeyfruit".

In any case, presumably because they are terrified of the slight resemblance between the intact fruit and a mythical monster of Portuguese folklore, some people don't like coconut. (Personally, I think it would be kind of empowering to take something which resembled the head of a feared childhood image, crack it open, and feast on the innards****. But maybe that's just me.) Anyway, there are a number of Weird beverages which are based, partially or entirely, on coconut. Many are not carbonated, and thus not technically soda. There is precedent for this variation within the Lab's mission, however, so we will forge ahead.

Today, we are reviewing four coconut-based beverages. The first two are a pair of juice-based beverages from the "Amy & Brian" label. I'm not sure what to make of Amy & Brian; the graphic depicts two silhouettes of people engaged in some sort of funkified movement, presumably induced by their enjoyment of coconut juice.

The funkification of Amy and Brian lends a certain sincerity to this beverage.

Lets begin by quaffing the first of the pair, Amy & Brian All NAtural Coconut Juice. According to the ingredients label, this is, in fact, just coconut juice. It also claims to be an "isotonic" beverage, which in physiology terms means that it has a similar overall amount of dissolved "stuff" as your body's blood plasma and extracellular fluid (aka Human Juice). Good to know.

Where and when: Purchased sometime in 2011 at Frazier Farms market, Vista, CA
Color: Unexected. I guess I was expecting this to pur out looking like coconut milk; instead, it's mostly transparent, slightly cloudy, and a tiny bit yellow. Actually, it looks a bit like blood plasma. Considering its claim to be isotonic, this is a bit upsetting.
Scent: Sweet, unexpectedly musky and acidic. The musk is actually quite strong in the scent. Again, not what I expected, and not much like coconut meat.
LAT: "Ewww! It smells disgusting."
Wyvern: "Awww! *cough* I think I'm going to choke."
LAT: "Smells kind of like pumpkin."

Taste: Hmmm...gluh. The initial taste is sweet and musky, reminiscent of cantaloupe. There's a moderate amount of saltiness behind it. Kind of tastes like sweat, actually.
The aftertaste, coming in around 7-8 seconds, is not an improvement. Salty and earthy. I keep sipping from the cup, trying to get more of the fairly pleasant initial taste, but it keeps going away.
I'll give it this: it has interest and complexity. This is not a simple taste by any means; I am getting a full experience with this bit of Weirdness.
About a minute later, the aftertaste is fading (which is good). To my surprise, I am left feeling kind of good about it. I don't really have an explanation for that; I'd say 65% of the quaffing experience was unpleasant. Yet now, afterwards, I am going to voluntarily sip it again.


Ugh. That was a mistake; it's worse now. The initial melon-y is accompanied by a sharp salty/sour taste which is quite icky.

This one feels dangerous. I fear that as I let this sip settle, I'll want more. If the next one has continued to worsen, it might go badly for me.


I actually feel a teeny tiny stomach clench whenever I first sip this. Yet still, there's something satisfying after it. It just takes a minute or so to get there.

How odd. I'm really not sure what to make of this one. I don't think I've ever had something which actually made me ever-so-slightly nauseated, yet left me thinking about having more--not even Moxie.

LAT: *tentative sip* "That's not that bad.
Wyvern: "Eeeeeuuuuhhhh."
LAT: "Kind of like a liquid, watery pumpkin. Not bad."

Quaff rating: 3. It has an interesting and complex taste, I have to admit it.
Cough rating: 3. Anything which actually makes me grimace has to get a 3 at least.

* The other version ended in the line "I'll probably have the..."
Er. Well, you may not need me to fill in the blank.

** But not the accursed Almond Joy, for it has almonds, and those are unworthy. Apparently, on the "Feel like a nut" vs. "Don't feel like a nut" scale, I am firmly in the "Don't" side. This will probably come as a surprise to anyone who has observed my behavior or read anything Ive ever written.

*** Somehow, the advertising "Sometimes you feel like a fruit. Sometimes you don't." never caught on.

**** My childhood fear was of the kitchen clock; I had a recurring nightmare in which the hands stretched out and grabbed me, and I was eaten. It would probably be less tasty than a coconut, so this avenue of resolving childhood terrors is unavailable to me. Alas.
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