Tyrrell’s Furrows- Sea Salt & Vinegar

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Oh my, Tyrrell’s.  How bold of you to announce that these chips are ridged for pleasure (seriously- look at the bottom of the package).  I can’t help but review these crisps accordingly.

These piquant potato chips pucker your lips, but the pain is gently abated by the sweet flavor of apples.  They’re sour, salty, and sweet, just like the sea captain love interest in an old-fashioned British novel.

These crisps have given me great pleasure, so much so that I inadvertently finished the bag while writing this review (don’t worry, dear readers, most of them had been eaten during cocktails with guests earlier).  However, despite the saucy slogan, I don’t think the ridges contributed to my happiness.  Rather, it was the perfect balance between salt and vinegar and pleasure and pain.  I mean, um, they’re just really good salt and vinegar chips.  The best I’ve ever had.

I think I need a candy cigarette..

Marmite Rice Cakes and Turkey Slices- A Delcious Snack

I love cold cuts.  I’ll eat any cold cut straight out of its flat plastic container.  Better yet, I’ll nosh on a bag of freshly sliced deli meats.  Add some mustard, and I’m quite content.  I’ve recently discovered something even better- turkey slices on marmite rice cakes.  It’s a perfect savory snack. The marmite rice cakes are full of B vitamins, low in calories, and somewhat filling (ok, slightly more filling than air, but something is better than nothing). The turkey enhances the savory flavor but takes the marmite edge off ever so slightly, as to not diminish the unique flavor, but to complement.*  In other words- nom nom nom.

Marmite’s B vitamin claims have convinced me that eating marmite is like taking a supplement.  I suppose this is slightly ignorant on my part.  However, for the time being, I’m going to stay in my metaphorical cave and continue to eat marmite rice cakes for health.

*Technically speaking, I think that marmite’s savory flavor is “umami,” which is distinct from a salty flavor, and can be slighty bitter and more earthy.  The saltiness of the turkey slices complements the umami of the marmite, because it cuts just a tiny bit of the umami bitterness while maintaining the satisfying savory taste.

McCoy’s- Flame Grilled Steak

McCoys

(I took this picture while walking out of a Tesco Express.  Classy)

First of all, I must apologize for being derelict in my junkfood duties.  I’ve been eating junk food, as I am wont to do, but I haven’t haven’t posted my reviews.  My first post-hiatus review is for another meat-flavored snack.  My first impression of McCoy’s Flame Grilled Steak chips was “beef flavored ramen noodles.”  I happen to like beef-flavored ramen noodles, so this wasn’t huge a con.  However, I’m not totally sold on chips coated in that flavor.  One thing about these chips that amused me is that it’s there’s a “supersize” alternative which features more ridges.  I do find the ridges on these chips strangely appealing, as if my mouth recognizes and appreciates their structural integrity.  I don’t know if I’d really derive more pleasure from beef-flavored chips with even bigger ridges.  At that point, I think I’d just eat actual meat.  On a related note, I was thinking of bringing jerky to work as a snack, but then I wondered if people would think I was some sort of paleo lumberjack (not that there’s anything WRONG with that!).  I assume they sell jerky here- it’s probably in the smoked fish area.  I definitely can’t bring smoked fish to work as a snack because I don’t want to be banish’d.  That would be a one-way ticket to office pariah.  Maybe there’s a smoked-fish flavored chip.  I would not be surprised.

In other news, my keyboard greasiness level is out of control.  I need to stop writing and eating at the same time.

Skips

Skips

As you can see from the package, Skips are a “Tingly Prawn Cocktail.”  So yeah, this is a junk food designed not only to taste like shrimp, but shrimp cocktail specifically.  When you open the package you think “what’s that smell? tomato..shrimp?” in that order.  That’s also what it’s like to eat them.  Actually, maybe the flavor sensation is more like “tomato? or is that vinegar? whoa, shrimp!”  They are really “tingly” when they first hit your tongue- like a tingly, tangy sensation.  It tastes like…cocktail sauce!  That’s some fine junk food engineering.  After the shrimp cocktail flavor fades, you’re left with a pleasant, light, starchy flavor, with a bit of tang, but not as much tingle.  When I finished the bag (because I promptly finished the bag) I hit some pockets of heavily flavor-dusted crumbs.  These little Skips remnants were especially tangy and delightful.

While I obviously enjoyed Skips, I couldn’t help but wonder “when would I crave Skips?”  Maybe I’d crave Skips if I really wanted shrimp cocktail, but found myself too far inland to view seafood without suspicion.  Although this exact scenario- craving shrimp cocktail in Nebraska- has not happened, it is within the realm of possibility.  My sister and I did eat one pound of peel and shrimp EACH in Boston once.  Recalling this memory made me think “is one pound of peel and eat shrimp a lot? Or did it just seem like a lot because I was 10?  I started to google “one pound of shrimp,” and the autofill came up with “one pound fish” and the first hit was this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_miGclPFGs

This prompted more questions, like “is this England’s version of Chocolate Rain?”  Apparently, this guy worked at a fish market and made up a song and somebody thought to produce a dance version and now it has almost 30 million views.  This song, which advertises cheap fish to ladies, went up to number 1 on the UK Asian chart and number 4 on the UK dance chart.  Apparently “One Pound Fish guy” was deported (or wasn’t? Internet newz seems conflicted here), but he was indicted in Pakistan for failing to pay a loan he was given several years earlier.  I can’t find anything about his current situation…but now I need to know!  The Internet has failed me.  I’m so sad I could binge eat some shrimp cocktail-flavored junk food.

p.s. I was so busy eating the Skips that I totally forgot to take a picture of them.  They look like little discs with slightly upturned edges.  Because you were dying to know.

Ridge Cut McCoys- Mexican Chilli

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Let’s get something straight, England.  Chili is either a bean-based dish or it is a type of pepper.  Chilli, on the other hand, is a member of the group TLC, whose music got me through 1992.  Are we clear now?  Good.  Now I can move past this grievous error and objectively assess the chips.

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My immediate impression on first bite was “this is pretty starchy.”  They are potato chips, after all, so this is not a revelation.  Sometimes the border between starchy and stale becomes a bit blurred (I’m going to avoid any specific global conflict analogies).  This particular bag of chips lives in the starchy zone, but is so close to the stale zone that it often has to retrieve its football from the stale zone’s back yard.*  Luckily, the taste of chili overpowers both the starch and the stale, like the EU.

So do these taste like chili?  Yes- they taste like a combination of chili peppers and bell peppers.  They’re tangy and peppery without being too spicy.  If you’re not into peppers, these are obviously not the chips you’re looking for.  Would I buy these again?  Maybe not for myself, but for entertaining, i.e. people watching sports at my house.  These would probably be really good with a yogurt/sour cream-based dip (and maybe a bit of cheddar as well).

The most [pro]evocative part of this packet of chips is the label on the back, presented here without comment:

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*The lighter shade of stale might be because this particular bag of chips is close to its eat-by date.

Marmite Rice Cakes

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Confession time- I’d never actually tried Marmite.  I’m pretty sure I would have remembered it.  It reminds me of something familiar though- a flavor from my childhood, perhaps?  Maybe it reminds me of the taste of soy sauce mixed with Worcestershire sauce, with which I became all too familiar during occidental cooking misadventures.  Either way, I enjoyed these snacky snacks.

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The flavor seems to be nicely distributed on the rice cakes.  Even though I’m not very familiar with Marmite, I do know my way around rice cake town, and I can tell you that the taste of rice is not overpowering, as it can be with some rice cakes.  The Marmite complements the rice.  Also, at no point was I thinking “this could use more fat.”  Some rice cakes give you flavor, but they leave you wanting something richer.  I enjoyed eating these, and I would eat them again.  They also have B vitamins, apparently.  Don’t get that B12 shot folks, just eat some Marmite (or mix some soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and hope for the best).

Homemade “Doritos Dust?”

I started thinking about Doritos dust, and whether one could create it at home.  After a quick search, I found this recipe.  My first reaction was “duh, this is also known as seasoning, not flavor powder” (See prior post).  My second reaction was unbridled excitement.  My third reaction was “uuuggghhh, nutritional yeast.”  This recipe uses nutritional yeast instead of cheese.  Obviously, it’s a vegan site, so they’re not using dairy.  I like experimenting with non-dairy comfort food recipes, like mac and cheese with rice or almond milk.  I’m not knocking non-dairy alternatives generally.  However, I am knocking nutritional yeast as a replacement for cheese.  It just doesn’t do it for me.  I can definitely understand using it for this recipe, because it’s probably easier to get the Doritos dust consistency right with nutritional yeast, because it’s flaky.

I did some more research, looking for alternatives, and most of the recipes for Doritos dust on the web included nutritional yeast.  I realized that it was time for me to figure out how to make real “flavor powder,” because I was all “f’ing dessicated cheese, how does that work?” (See Miracles at 1:53).

Apparently the best way to turn cheese into delicious cheesy powder is to use a dehydratorDo people have dehydrators handy?  I certainly do not.  Enter Amazon.

There are a bunch of cheese powders available on Amazon.  They range from “all natural” to “cheese flavor.”  I looked beyond Amazon, and I found this from The Spice House.  It’s all natural, but it ain’t cheap.  This would be good if you want your junk food real classy-like.  There’s also this white cheddar variety from King Arthur Flour.  It’s also pretty classy.

During my research, I also found this very interesting New Yorker article about the history of cheese powder, it’s “opioid-like effects,” and its use by the U.S. military.  It’s a good, albeit slightly depressing, read.

Wheat Crunchies- Crispy Bacon

Wheat Crunchies

I bought these because I thought they were stuffed with some sort of bacony goodness. In truth, I thought they’d be like Combos (a.k.a. the “Official Cheese-Filled Snack of NASCAR”). Alas, these are not stuffed with bacony goodness. In fact, they are not stuffed at all. This was a downer. But, I remained curious about the bacon flavor. I find it kind of amusing that their wheatiness (“flavour wheaty tubes”) is touted on the package. Sure, I suppose they’re made of wheat, but the strong bacon scent and taste tends to negate any wheat flavor.

 wheat crunchies 3

The bacon is strong with this one. When I opened the package, I thought of Bacon Bits, and also about Beggin’ Strips, which are bacon-themed American dog snacks that smell like something humans could eat. These smell and taste like a bacon bonanza. They’re also appropriately crunchy. The entire combination is kind of amusing- it reminds of something in patent law called an “awkward combination.”  An awkward combination is basically composed of three different products which have been changed slightly to make something new.  These snacks have the consistency of a corn or potato product, but they’re very emphatically made with wheat. They’re inexplicably tubular, as if designed by crunch engineers, and unlike most carbohydrate-based snack foods, they taste like meat. There’s a lot going on.

If you like bacon, or jerky generally, you’ll probably like these snacks. The initial bite is pretty salty, and despite my usual predilection for savory snacks, I actually prefer the rich, fatty aftertaste. These sensations- salt, then sumptuous fat- are not unlike those experienced while eating actual bacon. These Wheat Crunchies are probably as near to bacon as wheat will ever be, except on a farm.

Propercorn- Sour Cream & Chive

Propercorn

I know, I know, “under 100 calories” per bag does not a junk food make. I bought this fancy pants popcorn instead of delicious movie theater popcorn. Because I needed a snack if I was going to watch Unbroken. A movie depicting starvation, amongst other terrible things. *Hangs head in shame* I liked the movie AND the fancy popcorn.

This popcorn is “gently hand-popped.” That’s good, because I only eat humanely treated popped corn. In addition to sour cream and chives, it also includes “a dollop of creme fraiche.”  I noticed that the popcorn tasted a bit unique- slightly sweet, actually. Upon further investigation (in the less florid version of the ingredient list), I realized that “dried glucose syrup” was probably responsible for the sweetness. I liked the touch ‘o glucose. I’m not sure if it would work on a serious sour cream and chive junk food, such as Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles (which are sooo good with french onion dip, btw), but it works on this light popcorn. I would go so far as to recommend that someone trying to make this at home should mix in a little corn syrup with the sour cream, onion, and chives. Also, I would recommend eating that homemade popcorn by yourself, with a spoon, because I’m not sure how mere mortals can desiccate sour cream and sprinkle it on popcorn.