Friday, May 18, 2007

You've GOT to be kidding me................

Last night, I was watching a Japanese movie, Shimotsuma Monogatari (Kamakaze Girls is the English title and I highly recommend you rent it now!), on AZNTV (The Network for Asian America- yes, it exists and yes, I watch it) and I saw one of those dumb infomercials that literally stopped me in my tracks. I mean, we've all seen that ridiculous plastic cylindrical container that you toss pasta and hot water in, then presto! You have perfectly cooked pasta every time! Um, yeah......more like stuck-together-slimy-on-the-outside-but-teeth-shatteringly-hard-on-the-inside glob. I mean, you know how hard it is to boil water and then have to put the pasta in a pot. I mean, who has the time to for that??? Most of the products featured in these ads are ridiculous, but the one I saw topped them all, at least in my world. Even J thought it was so funny- we sat on the sofa and couldn't stop laughing.

For you Japanese or fans of Japanese-food out there you know exactly what this contraption is:

It's a takoyaki pan- used to make the little savory, puffy balls filled with octopus, ginger and topped with sauce and mayo otherwise known as takoyaki. It's a fixture on the Osaka street food scene (yeah, there's a scene) and a not-uncommon-kitchen-item in the home of many Japanese.

Here's how we saw it advertised on TV last night:

Pancake puffs??? You've GOT to be kidding me! And on the Asian Network? Oi- the whole thing was so ludicrous. It says "Now you can make pancake puffs just like your grandma used to! Just use your favorite pancake or cake mix and pour it in to make easy-to-eat pancake puffs!" Er.....excuse me? The "pancake puffs" that MY grandma made would have likely been filled with chopped up OCTOPUS! The silliness continued with talk about how you could make a dozen different things with the Pancake Puff Pan. "Not only can you make the perfect sweets, but you can create pizza puffs, taco puffs, pepper puffs or cheese puffs - perfect for your next party!!!"

"But wait, there's more! If you call within the next FIVE minutes, we'll upgrade your order to the Chef's Choice set which includes a filling injector and a dozen flipping sticks!" Flipping sticks? They look exactly like the bamboo skewers that come in a pack of one hundred for $0.38.

I wonder what moron (or genius?) was in Japan, saw the takoyaki pan and thought "I'll call this Pancake Puffs and Flipping Sticks!"



Anonymous said...

if i recall rightly, there's a dutch pancake that uses a similar pan. they are round puffballs. but why someone would advertise on asian tv for a dutch takeoff???

Anonymous said...

I've seen the infomercial for this and immediately burst out laughing, also. Then I was horrified. Poor takoyaki pan.

Jason Truesdell said...

On eGullet this has come up recently. It's quite possible the Dutch Aebleskiver came from an Indonesian pancake that is a bit similar... That would be the "pancake puff" of a small number of people's heritage, perhaps. I've seen them in some Scandinavian-focused shops as well.

In Japan I've also seen "mini castella" made in an oblong form at a yatai in Ochanomizu... not too far off, either. Pancakes/waffles/takoyaki/taiyaki/ningyoyaki... they're all cousins.

Chubbypanda said...

You can't see me, but I'm crying tears of blood right now.

Anonymous said...

Laugh all you want (I did), but I'm beginning to see that the "pastry puff" may have a more universal appeal than you realize. I'm shifting my opinion closer to "what a stroke of marketing genius" the more I hear. In my Danish heritage, these are called Aebelskiver and we use the round pan. I understand that other Scandinavians have something similar as well. Now you show me the takoyaki pan and we see a whole different dimension of a similar idea. Most of the types of fillings described on the infomercial are more closely related to the Scandinavian traditions, although there are a few new ideas there, too. I'm not sure I'm ready for chopped seafood in my Aebelskiver, but there are one or two new ones that I might try.

Limited appeal? Try all Americans of Japanese and/or Scandinavian decent. I may have to get myself a takoyaki pan so I can make more at one time!

Anonymous said...

Does it work? My seven year old daughter and I saw the commercial. She wants it, and I was intrigued. I run a bed and breakfast and thought that puff pancakes might be fun. On ebay, someone was selling a japanese electric version that does 20 at a time-- but I missed the auction. Then there's the danish version. Anyone try these?

Working towards world pancake dominion!

Anonymous said...

Just because there is a similar pan in Osaka making octopus balls doesn't mean there is no such thing as Dutch pancake puff. What a self-centered ignorant moron!!

Anonymous said...

Who knows? Maybe the takoyaki pan was a copycat of the Aebelskiver pan? Japanese are famous for "borrowing" ideas anyway!