The bags inside the bag of soup: Red things, twigs, giant raisins, DO NOT EAT, twigs, twigs, twigs, tea bag.
The first thing I started was the soup stock, and panic soon set in. Inside the plastic bag Big Red found in what he swears to baby Jesus was the soup aisle, were eight smaller plastic bags, many of which were taunting me with their inedibility. One had a few comically oversized raisins in it, one had a clump of red sticky things, one was a tea bag, one said "DO NOT EAT" in several languages including my own, and four of them were filled with sticks. At first I thought they might be dehydrated chicken or mushrooms, but no, they were sticks. Baffled on how and when to combine the sticks in a multi-staged twig broth, I put them all in water at once, including the raisins and the red things. By the nature of the rules of this cooking event, it seemed unethical to do any excessive sniffing of any dishes, but even without smelling it, it occurred to me that there was a good chance my soup dish was potpouri.

Twigs and fish heads form an aromatic broth. Please note that the visible stink lines were not added in post-production.

"Mmm, that smells terrific! How does someone so young know so much about soup?" charms the squid pancake.
For some zesty non-bark flavor, I dropped in the heads of the fish and brought it all to a boil. Any illusions I had that this was potpouri were gone. It smelled like I was grilling Windex, with fish. Knowing this was probably just a temporary state that all wooden fish broths go through, I started frying the squid pancake in a pan and waited for my broth to perfect itself. The pancake smelled more like sock than seafood, but by this point my nostrils were inflamed from the toxic fishwood fumes and could not be trusted.

Now that their flavor had penetrated the broth, the twigs and fish heads would be stored in the colander until a qualified hazmat team could properly dispose of them.
Ten minutes later, I decided my soup smelled as much like food as it was going to, and drained the broth into a bowl. Its steam was stinging my eyes, so I decided to break Rule #3 and taste it in case I was about to serve a potentially lethal dish to my guests. And just like an insect is polite enough to warn predators of its poisonousness with vibrant color patterns, the wood soup of Japan was polite enough to warn me of its poisonousness with a pungent chemical taste and a numbing effect on the inside of my mouth. I decided that if I was going to cook anything else, I'd better keep a phone in the kitchen with the first six digits of poison control's number already dialed in.

Plan B: Fish ass soup.
I saved the broth to be used later as a weedkiller and started on a new soup, this time made out of the red oily sauce and the remaining fish parts, the asses. It smelled awful, but awful like bad food, not bad nerve gas, so I added the noodles.

I started preparing the rest of the meal as they boiled, and to my shock, my main dish -samurai movie buns- had a small label in English I'd missed in the store. They were "pork-filled" and suggested that I steam them for "maximum enjoy." Doing my best to follow Rule #2, ignorance, I pretended like I didn't read any of that. I covered them in a generous amount of red something sauce and put them in the oven for ten minutes. The tears dripping out of my eyes told me one thing: either my growth as a chef had moved me to cry, or this sauce was spicy enough to burn through human flesh.

When I took the buns out of the oven, a nearby scientist said, "My God... according to this readout, these pods contain DNA not of this Earth!" as one of them hatched something that leapt onto his neck.
On a decorative super hero plate, the four-course meal was served, accompanied by Kickass Hippo. Note the daring decision to only include one chopstick. That's because I don't own a second chopstick. All of the secrets of the Orient were about to be revealed. I started on the noodles and found that they had absorbed little to none of the flavor of fish ass. However, they made up for their lack of flavor by exhibiting a texture exactly like human snot. The pancake surprised us, tasting much less like sock than it smelled like it would. There didn't seem to be any squid flavor to it, meaning that the squid on the package indicated that it was prepared by squids.

This could be my inferior American palate talking, but the bun was maybe even worse than the foot-scented non-squid. The experience of eating the red oily sauce was like preparing a bag of salt on an open flame and serving it by shoving someone's face into the fire. And when I fought my way through the fiery salt torture, I discovered that in the center of the doughy crust is a spoonful of cat food. I tried to wash it down with the SOFT DRINK which as luck would have it, was filled with thick, sour, pineapple-flavored yogurt. That did anything but help. The blue plastic tube, however, was filled with delicious berry jello, and I credit it with saving the meal and my mouth's life.

Jello or not, I'm not ashamed to tell you that twenty minutes after we ate, food was evacuating out of every part of our bodies. In fact, mine skipped the entire digestive process and in its panic just started ejecting squid pancake escaping out of my god damn ears and nose. Maybe this doesn't prove that America is the best country ever, but I've never gone into an American grocery store and been tricked by its employees into a Poison-the-White-Devil-Death-Scheme. Our mission to rekindle our American pride with my bad Japanese cooking worked. We learned a valuable lesson in why we should appreciate our liberty, and more importantly, we learned that a package covered in excitable food monsters doesn't necessarily mean there's something inside that you can eat.

On to America Rules Again! Part 3: Blowing Shit Up
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