It is true and often said that a book cannot be judged by its cover. The same is true of an egg and its shell. It seems that these truisms, no matter how often repeated, are often overlooked. Especially in a day and age when packaging is so common place. A bag of chips for example is packaged so that the consumer need only recognize a logo and color. A major brand like Doritos has this down to a science. Blue bags suggest the cool flavor of ranch, whereas a red bag indicates the spicy flavor of its contents. Even in a place where one does not speak the language this can be tried and proven true.
Here is a snack I purchased today at a Japanese convenience store. From the packaging I was able to quickly deduce that the contents would be a crunchy, corn based snack. I was able to infer by the shape of the product displayed that the snack would be something like Cheetos, with a Japanese slant of course. With only a limited knowledge of Japanese customs and traditions I was able to deduce that the package was a limited edition designed specifically for release around the new year. I knew this because on Sunday I visited a shrine that sold good luck charms that looked very similar to the design of the bag (note the fake string ribbon and faux embroidery kanji).
Upon opening the package I found that my assumptions were correct. The snacks were in fact very much like Cheetos but the flavor of cheese, though delicious, was a bit off from the flavor of cheese snacks I am accustomed too.
The ease of packaging can, however, lead us astray if we do not apply critical thinking and astute observation. Early today I was reminded of this when I attempted to buy a hot can of coffee from a vending machine. I looked over the machine and decided I wanted coffee with milk, conveniently labeled in English characters as Cafe Au Lait, and colored to look like milky coffee. I inserted my yen and pressed the appropriate button. I know I pressed the correct button as I have purchased several of these since my arrival. From the dispenser I removed a beige can and felt its warmth against my skin. With out examining the can I opened it and took a sip. The sweet flavor I tasted at first seemed to agree with my memory of this product. However with in moments I noticed that the flavor was far too savory, almost like sweet corn. In fact it was sweet corn. The machine, despite my proper operation, had dispensed a can of hot corn pottage.With a chuckle and no witnesses to feel embarrassed by I drank the corn soup and rather enjoyed it. It was a personal error with little consequence.
Earlier this week I narrowly avoided a potentially more embarrassing situation for almost exactly the same reasons. I was having dinner with Maggie in Nagoya. I had ordered a dinner set that included a bowl of hot noodles, a cup of dumpling soup, a small salad, and, what I assumed was a boiled egg. When the food came it looked exactly as it had on the menu, with the exception of the dish that the egg was served in. The egg was served on a small metal dish that sat above a small soup bowl. I thought it was for the sake of aesthetic and being hungry and still overwhelmed by being in a foreign country, I appreciated the aesthetic. I did not apply critical thinking, nor astute observation. Had I would have recognized the small metal dish for what it was. Instead I judged the book by its cover, or as was the case, the egg by its shell. After tasting the rest of my dinner I set to eating the egg. The first step, naturally, was to crack the shell, and then peel. I gave the egg a good whack on the table top and as luck would have it the shell cracked only a little. A small piece of shell flecked off but the outer shell membrane remained in tact. Still thinking the egg was boiled I picked at the revealed membrane. To my surprise removing the membrane gave way to a hollow space.
The egg was certainly raw. Dumb luck had it that I narrowly avoided smashing a raw egg on the restaurant table. As I began to understand what I was doing I realized that the small metal dish was nothing more than a simple yolk strainer. A device I had used daily when I was baker.
The moral of the story I suppose is obvious, but because we live in a world that has, apparently, been so conveniently packaged I feel it should be stated in clear simple terms. Don't mistake the map for the territory, don't eat the menu, and never judge an egg by its shell.