Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Potato Chips!

Yes I must admit the topic of this update is potato chips. Before any talk about this blog "jumping the shark," potato chips are found in every convenience store on every block of Shanghai. They get more shelf space than any other snack, with the possible exception of preserved fruits. And I think the flavor options reflect on Chinese tastes in ways that may not be entirely obvious. So here's four flavors out of the 10 or 15 different flavors offered by Lay's, the most common brand.

Lemon Flavor

Fruit flavored potato chips struck me as odd, but I was willing to give it a chance - maybe some lemon flavoring, some rosemary, and it could be a good chip. However really this tastes like those lemon cookies. Totally artificial taste and sweet, almost like candy. Leave it to Shanghai to make even the potato chips sweet!

Cucumber Flavor

If Lemon flavoring is weird, Cucumber flavoring tops that. But actually I've gotten used to Cucumber flavoring in Shanghai, it's a little common. Cucumbers are a type of melon, they're more spicy and less sweet than other melons but the juice is pretty good. It's a bit strong of a taste even, you need to mix it with other flavors. Here the Cucumber flavoring is a little weak, and again it's sweet. It's not as sweet as Lemon chips but it's still not to my tastes.

Texas Grilled BBQ Flavor

About half of Lay's flavors are from this "International" line, along with flavors like Mexican Chicken, French Chicken, Swiss Cheese, etc. "Texas BBQ" sounded like one of the less exotic flavors. However instead of a tangy tomato-based flavor, it tasted like it was flavored with a big hunk of BBQ meat - I think Beef Bullion is one of the ingredients. Shanghai doesn't really understand the idea of meatless eating and even seemingly vegetarian-friendly foods will use meat broth or other meat products. I'm not a vegetarian but if I was I might be limited to eating Lemon potato chips all day.

Beijing Duck Flavor

A "Chinese Favorites" potato chip - are the other potato chips not particularly liked by Chinese people? They never answer this but I have to presume I'm over-analyzing. This is my favorite of the flavors I've had. I don't like duck on the plate, but on the potato chip it makes for a nice combination of salty and savory.


Oaktown Crack said...

Damn it, quit making me hungry!

Anonymous said...

Fruit flavored potato chips were tried in Canada in the seventies (orange, cherry and grape flavor). They were not a success (I tried them - they were awful) and they were rapidly discontinued.

Jeff Rutsch said...

Interesting. Actually in the last year, a couple lines of cherry-tomato flavored potato chips have been launched. They're way tasty, I think they'd be popular in the US as well.