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.


Sherry said...

I think another reason these sorts of snacks have stronger flavors is because it is so often men who eat this stuff while drinking, and generally speaking men seem to prefer stronger flavors. I mean look at the sort of stuff men grab to eat on the way home from the office - oily ramen, gyoza, etc. All of that has strong flavor as well. I do think in general Japanese people like more subtle flavors than say Americans, but these snacks seem to be most often eaten by men. Women are generally too weight obsessed to eat a lot of this sort of thing as well.

Orchid64 said...

A lot of my female students are big into beer and salty snacks. In fact, I think some of them can drink men under the table. There seem to be two types - those who are into the booze and otsumami and those who are into the sweets. Ironically, I think the women who are keen on sweets are the more weight-conscious lot.

And I'd agree that these are more often eaten by men, though my only impression of that is from advertising rather than first-hand experience. ;-)

Thanks for your comment!

Sherry said...

Well I guess that's where having a Japanese husband comes in handy. I get to see what actually goes on with Japanese men and their family, friends, and coworkers of both sexes.
: )

Voz Portuguesa said...

Japanese stuff is hard to find in Portugal :(

Carla Matador,
Detox Diet

Anonymous said...

These look really good. Nabisco stopped production of their Swiss Cheese Crackers here years back, and now the only offerings for cheese-flavored crackers are variants of cheddar (which I consider to be universally dull). I'd love to try those sometime.