26 February, 2013

"Flavour Down to the Crisp" by Monica Lum

You say "chips", we say "crisps" but are there other differences that distinguish this popular snack found in both English-speaking countries? Monica Lum investigates...

BBQ, Salt and Vinegar, French Onion, Cheddar, Cool Ranch, and the Classic Potato are standard flavors for American potato chips.  Those versatile flavors are always delicious and enjoyable to munch on but why stop chip flavors there?  The United Kingdom has clearly thought about that and offers a wide variety of tasty and quite fun ‘flavour crisps’.  Brits would most likely find American ‘Harvest Cheddar’ flavored chips to be cute—their ‘Smoked Monterrey Chilli with Goats Cheese’ crisps may have the power to outdo and impress consumers a bit more.  A person who has only been exposed to American ‘Salt and Vinegar’ flavored chips would easily assume a typical hint of salt and vinegar taste when opening a bag of ‘Carmelised Onion & Balsamic Vinegar’ flavoured crisps.  Wrong.  The $3.32 (£2.19) you dish out is well worth the money because the title, ‘Carmelised Onion & Balsamic Vinegar’ is no lie.  You just paid for freshly caramelised, sizzling hot onions straight from the frying pan mixed with tangy balsamic vinegar to quickly envelop your taste buds within the first crunch. 

Perhaps the UK thought it’d be helpful to encourage people who have budgets (study abroad students) to skip expensive meals and alternatively purchase a hearty snack by selling hearty flavoured crisps like, ‘Roasted Chicken and Thyme’.  Mom just took out the marinated chicken that’s been roasting in the oven for two hours—oh wait no, that was just a bag of ‘Roasted Chicken and Thyme’ crisps being opened.  Smells just like the real thing and tastes just like it too. It is safe to say a bag of ‘Roasted Chicken and Thyme’ is dinner in a bag.  Well, not really a chicken person?  No problem.  Maybe some, ‘Flame Grilled Steak’, ‘Smoky Bacon’ or ‘Chilli Beef’ flavoured crisps will suit your preference more.  The crisp options are endless, ‘Spanish Chicken Paella’, ‘Italian Spaghetti Bolognese’, ‘Japanese Teriyaki’, ‘Oriental Red Curry’… and the more commonly flavoured crisps that are typically featured in aisles of British grocery stores: ‘Prawn Cocktail’, ‘Thai Sweet Chilli’, ‘Southern Style Barbeque’, ‘BBQ Beef’, ‘Mexican Fiery Sweet Chipotle’, ‘Chargrilled Chicken’, ‘Chicken Winger’, ‘Mature Cheddar and Onion’, ‘Vintage Cheddar & Onion Chutney’— we get it, Brits don’t like leaving any crisp flavour to the imagination.  It’s quite evident that the UK got bored with producing typical crisps and felt the need to be more creative with their flavours.  It would take a lifetime to try every single one but I do believe that it’s time for Britain to no longer be notorious for selling inedible, gross, and tasteless food.  Food snobs who stand behind this stereotype will quickly change their minds the second they indulge in one of the many flavoured crisps offered in the UK. 

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