Wednesday, November 23, 2005


One of my other obsessions, along with coffee, is Asian pop culture and fads. Though to clarify, I haven't watched any anime since "Tranzor Z" back in the 80's.

(I mean...

who didn't, right? Aphrodite A used those as missiles)

Rather, I think of myself as an amateur student of "existential sociology" a la Shinyu Yamazaki in William Gibson's San Francisco trilogy. Probing the collective unconscious of an entire culture. Asking, for instance "why does a package of, say, frozen fish cakes need to have a picture of a of a giant-eyed cartoon turtle on it? What does that tell us about Japanese consumers?"

Keeping all this in mind, I was thrilled when I first heard that Lollicup was coming to Denver, as I understood that "bubble tea" with floating mystery pellets was the next big thing "over there". I had to drag my skeptical wife kicking and screaming through the door. First time out, with all of the options available on the menu, she went with "Red Bean Slush". Needless to say, she wasn't exactly clamoring for another.

And it's not as though there isn't plenty else to choose from. Indeed, the adventurous, and people suffering from irreparable damage to their taste buds, could go to Lollicup every day for weeks before they went through every option... Green bean, sesame, avocado, and taro, a member of the potato family that I've never seen in any dish, much less in a Slurpee. Then there's the gummy "Bobas". I've never really seen anything that's adequately explained exactly what these are; I keep hearing that they're made from tapioca, but I've always understood tapioca as an emergent phenomenon which sometimes occurs in pudding, as opposed to a foodstuff in it's own right. I have heard that the name is taken from Korean slang for "nipple" so... there's that.

I talked my wife into going back a few months later to get my dose of big fat Japanese fashion magazine and irony, when a strange thing happened -- she discovered "Mo Cha" (green tea) slush. An occasional habit became a pregnancy craving, which in turn developed into a full blown addiction. Seriously, I was suprised the new baby didn't slither out on a wave of the gelatinous bobas, like when Han Solo sliced open that tauntaun in "Empire".

Now the fact of the matter is that ANY successful marriage is co-dependent by it's definition, regardless of what Dr. Phil tells you. Therefore, as an enabler, I occasionally forgo a visit to the coffeeshop in order for her to get her fix. Luckily, for me, Lollicup offers 2 slushy options for the caffeine addicted, the appropriately named "Coffee" and "Cappuccino". I like to mix it up between the 2. Because, well, frankly, I can't tell the difference. Any cold, Asian novelty coffee beverage has vaguely the same taste - robusta coffee, heavy cream and sugar. (Pick up a can of "Hey, Boss" at any Asian market for another example) Like Cappio. (Remember Cappio?) Which isn't to say it isn't good. It's kind of like how, after a night at the club, a cup of diner coffee at Pete's Kitchen easily trumps a venti anything from Starbucks.

How I see it, Lolicup has it right. Any slushy coffee beverage should be as unpretentious and unselfconscious as their drinks are. Yeah, I drink 'em sometimes, too, but it's a shake, people. I've decided if I ever own my own coffee shop, my frappe'd drink du jour will be a pretty close approximation to Lollicup's. I'll call it "FROZENATED COFFEE BEVERAGE!! (NOW, WITH BOBA!)", and I'll make whoever orders it say the full name. The "NOW, WITH BOBA!" Will appear on all the menus from the day my shop opens, until the end of the world, when anyone sitting in my joint can have whatever they want on me, to celebrate the "Left Behind" crowd finally leaving us alone.


"dale" said...

nice to see you writing again

totalvo said...

keep this shit up. this is great stuff.