My friend, Danny, and I have a long-standing practice of finding strange, and even gross, foods and sending them to each other. It started when he found a can of something in a grocery store called ¨Potted Meat Food Product.¨ The best part about this particular find was the following actual ingredient: “partially defatted cooked pork fatty tissue.” Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
The next sortie in this exchange of deplorables was “One Whole Chicken in a Can.” I found it alone on a bare shelf in a small grocery story in Forest Grove, Oregon while I was in college. I purchased it, put it in a shoebox, taped up the box, addressed it, and took it to the post office to send to Danny. The next time we were together in person, we marveled at this culinary miracle. The can was about twice the size of a standard soup can. How is it possible they were able to fit an entire chicken into that can? The label on the can had originally been purple, but it had faded over time. It was not clear what the expiration date was on this one whole chicken. The preparation instructions, however, were the coup de grace: ¨Step One: Remove chicken from can. Step Two: Garnish and serve.¨
In the years since, we have exchanged other ill-prepared meats, often pickled, and fish, usually flavored with something that shouldn’t be on the same plate as fish, like fruit jam. More recently, Danny sent me chili lime plums and a cooked cob of corn hermetically sealed in a plastic sleeve.
Danny, who has been my friend longer than anyone – we met in 5th grade – is having a birthday soon, a big one. For that occasion, I spied in the sauces aisle the little gem pictured in this post. It cost only $1.43 but is worth much more in our ritual of gross grub. If I had to guess, the sweet detail of this particular item is the brand Dawn Fresh because nothing evokes the freshness of dawn like canned brown mushroom sauce. Bon appetit.