What’s the last thing you expect to find on a train platform? For me it is perhaps a canned bread vending machine. Japan never disappoints though and the other day I spied that very thing as I was just about to get on the train. That night I spend most of my time imagining what bread in a can could possibly taste like.
The next day I returned to the machine and found that the bread was available in three flavours. Strawberry, maple syrup and chocolate. My eyes were then drawn down the machine to a sign that showed a rather happy looking can.
“Freshly baked, fluffy steaming hot bread!”, the sign exclaimed. “Packed into a can just like that.”
Despite the rather odd serving suggestion given by the photo at the top of the vending machine, I figured I would take the plunge. However I found that the coin slot was covered by another sign telling me these delicacies were no longer available. Heart broken, I continued on my merry way to where ever I was going.
Trying hard to forget about my brush with such an odd foodstuff, I decided to head to Akihabara for some geeky shopping one weekend. While browsing through the wonderfully named Super Potato retro game shop, instead of finding some rare and interesting videogame, I found some bread in a can right next to the cash register. I did not expect to find it there but should have realised that things will always crop up in the most unusual of places (much like mushrooms).
Upon returning home I opened up the can to be greeted with a rather unusual message, “DO NOT EAT”, it said in block capitals. This was just the oxygen absorber though so I thrust it aside, took the bread out of the can and gave the bread a taste.
However fresh this bread may have once been, it certainly wasn’t anymore. The blurb had promised fluffy bread but it was fluffy in a fake candy floss kind of way rather than a freshly baked way. Bizarrely the whole thing tasted of old, slightly spoiled yogurt. While it was fluffy, it somehow also had a soggy texture to it, as though the yogurt had been spilt on it at some point. A theory that had legs considering the bread also had something that resembled strawberry seeds all over it.
Doing a bit of research on the bread in a can phenomenon I found that the original idea for this was as food to keep stored in case of natural disasters. Whoever came up with that idea must have read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld at some point. These books describe Dwarf Bread, the ultimate emergency food. The bread never goes stale but is so disgusting that a traveller can go for miles, just knowing there’s dwarf bread in their pack. A traveller will eat just about anything rather than dwarf bread. Including their own foot, or even pumpkins.
Despite the high novelty factor of this thing, I should have heeded the advice of the oxygen absorber I found upon opening. This bread was truly disgusting.