Wotsits, Mexican Chilli McCoy’s, Salt & Vinegar Walkers, Quavers, Pickled Onion Monster Munch, Roast Beef and Mustard Brannigans.
I’d go as far as to say that never before has any self respecting article begun with such an opening sentence, but I didn’t write them solely to take pride in owning that self-awarded accolade nor to boost my word count.
No, I actually want to talk about crisps / potato chips / corn snacks.
I’m an Englishman and we love our crisps; indeed, as a nation it is estimated that we plough through 6 BILLION packets per year.
Just consider that for a moment.
As anyone from the UK would attest, the common lunchtime staple is to eat a sandwich whilst demolishing a ‘share bag’ packet of crisps.
Culinary habits obviously vary around the world and so since living in Asia, the tried and tested flavours from back home are scarce, unless you want to pay the equivalent of a day’s earnings in Tesco Lotus for a taste of that familiarity (Kettle Chips: I’m looking at you).
Now it’s fair to say that Thai cuisine and the rich variety of food on offer in Bangkok is pretty well documented. If I had ฿1 for every blog or article I see on Facebook eulogising the next new eatery or the best place for street food in Bangkok, then I wouldn’t be living on a diet of crisps, nor writing this article. <
But I don’t, so I am.
So, for reasons ranging from boredom to my crisp fetishisation and natural curiosity, I came up with an idea. To dive headlong into all that the Thai potato chip industry has to offer and write about it.
Armed with an empty stomach, a couple of hundred baht and a bottle of Leo cooling in the fridge at home, I decided to march into the local 7-Eleven and capture five packets of crisps to replicate as far as possible a full 5-course dinner, and establish whether the rich and mouthwatering flavours of Thailand have managed to marry successfully with the good old crisp.
Appetiser: Lays Nori Seaweed
Lays are the Walkers of the Asian world and, as is the case back in Blighty, they can be relied upon to produce a nice standard crisp. The flavours can be somewhat bizarre, even in England (Cajun Squirrel?) and Seaweed is certainly not something eaten with much relish back home.
I found this flavour a little uninspiring, salty and slightly fishy but a little dull.
Much like seaweed I suppose.
Fish Course: Lays Hot Chili Squid
Now I like my seafood and I like my chili (and, as is apparent, I like my crisps) so this combination should be a winner, right?
On the whole a solid effort. There was a nice hit of heat to this crisp but you’d be hard pressed to guess that the overriding flavour was squid.
A little more balance required and this could be a winner.
Main Course: Lays Mieng Kham
Drawing on the traditional Thai flavours of the North, Lays are onto a winner with this crisp; easily the pick of the bunch.
Chilli, ginger, lime, garlic, dried shrimp with a hint of coconut…what’s not to like!?
>A crunchy taste explosion.
Dessert: Tasto Fit Chocolate
Now from the sublime to the ridiculous. A chocolate crisp?
3 packets in and feeling a little full these were about the last thing I needed right now.
They smelled good, but possessed a texture more akin to a breakfast cereal than a crisp and for some reason had no real crunch. The bitterness of the chocolate came as a slight bonus, but certainly not enough to bring redemption.
Started to feel sick around half way through these and gave up on the rest of the packet.
Drink: Tasto Fit Strawberry Milkshake
Now, munching through four packets of crisps is quite clearly thirsty work, so what better to wash them down with than a strawberry milkshake? Er, make that strawberry milkshake… crisps. Strawberry milkshake crisps.
I mean… what?!
It was a with a great deal of trepidation that I reached for the packet, and with good reason.
These were all kinds of wrong, not least for the fact that they have a worrying pink hue. Sickly sweet, neither a snack nor dessert, I just cannot fathom why anyone would want to eat these. They even managed to surpass the chocolate crisps in the ‘should never been made’ stakes.
Even taking the Thai sweet tooth into consideration, I defy anyone to say that these are in any way enjoyable.
With a heavy stomach and feeling a little ill, I fetched the bottle of Leo from the fridge, slumped onto my sofa and vowed not to touch a crisp for the rest of the year.
To conclude, I’d say my experiment was a very mixed bag, if you will, with a range of tastes that I assume would cater to all.
A little like the country we’re in, I suppose.
Featured image is by photos.de.tibo and used under a Creative Commons licence