Friday, January 14, 2011
Cheeza Bleu Cheese Crackers
It may seem that all I do is try to think up dumb or funny introductions then talk about the actual food when I make these blog posts, and, yes, that is what I do most of the time. However, through time, things are revealed about Japan and Japanese food culture which show a broader "truth" about the way things are. Believe it or not, something as mundane as these Cheeza crackers brought this though forward.
A great deal of Japanese cuisine is relatively subtle in flavor, and the Japanese find some foreign foods overbearing because their palates are generally tuned toward delicate flavors. I'll be the first to admit that my barbaric American mouth prefers to be beaten over the head with flavor. This overall tendency toward meeker flavors doesn't apply universally in Japanese food though and the area where you can most see this is in otsumami, or food designed to be consumed with beer. Such foods are often very strongly flavored. My guess is that this is either because people drink more when consuming strong flavors (which is great for bars) or they are sufficiently numbed with intoxicants that they need a bigger hit of flavor to get through the fog of their inebriation (or both).
These Cheeza crackers deliver the strong flavor in spades. They bring to mind the strong pungency and intensity of bleu cheese dressing with its moldy veiny cheese bits. They are also crispy and light little crackers. With 51% cheese, it's no surprise that they are so flavorful and with so much fat from the cheese, it's no surprise that they are crispy.
I picked up this 38-gram (1.3 oz.) bag at a local supermarket for about 150 yen or about $1.79 (on sale, they're usually more expensive). You can find Cheeza nearly anywhere in Tokyo. The entire bag is only 195 calories so you don't have to feel too guilty about polishing the whole thing off, though if you're adding some beer calories on top of that, you may find yourself developing a belly. Personally, I thought they went well with a tuna sandwich as a contrasting flavor, and it fails to produce the same beer gut effect.