Aug 012008

Fish sauce. Liquid umami. A innocuous-seeming whiskey-toned brew that, when popped open, takes about thirty seconds to make an entire room smell like the Jersey Shore. Who wouldn’t want it in their kitchen?

I recently bought a bottle of Tra Chang fish sauce, a high-quality Thai brand, and it’s done far more for me than simply seasoning my stir-fries. It, in its inscrutable Southeast Asian way, has blown my mind.

That, friends, is a thinking man’s label, and I have spent quite awhile pondering what exactly it’s trying to convey.

At first I took it at face value: obviously, the ingredients of the sauce, apparently a fish of unknown denomination and a prawn, weigh exactly the same as an odd-perspective block of 100%. This means quality. This means the sauce is 100% composed of the things composing it. Other fish sauce brands may be content when their ingredients weigh in at only 99%, but not Tra Chang. Tra Chang will not accept a product that weighs even an ounce less than a physical representation of a mathematical abstraction.

But then I looked at the back label, which informs the consumer bashfully that the sauce’s ingredients are “anchovy-fish 70% salt 29% sugar 1%.” But the fish on the label isn’t an anchovy. And whither the prawn? Is Tra Chang entirely a lie? If you placed a block of all of Tra Chang’s untruth on a scale opposite a block of 100%, would it balance? Why is the background exploding? How many prawns would it take to equal the weight of a block of my confusion?

I feel like I can’t trust anything anymore. I swear, next someone will tell me egg creams contain neither eggs nor cream.

  4 Responses to “There’s something fishy about this.”

  1. soju. i am dating a korean girl. where do you live in texas? austin city limits? i would like an opinion.

  2. You’re high. That is my opinion.

  3. Man, if you stopped eating all the foods that lie to you, your options would be slim and boring indeed. At least this one lies to you in a way that sends you into an existential tizzy.

  4. funniest label interpretation; ever. i laughed quietly but heartily, so that anyone watching would have thought i was crazy. but nobody watches me.

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