Friday, March 14, 2014

Lays Spanish Tomato Tango Potato Crisps

As children, we are often admonished for our limited palates and our squeamishness about trying new foods. The old "eat your vegetables" business is the most cliched example, but children in general are not fans of adult flavors. I've mentioned before that I believe this is because strong flavors are more intense for children, who have not yet deadened their taste buds with a variety of abuses, but also it is true that they have not developed their palates.

When I was a child, I had certain foods that I hated based on texture, taste, or smell. My parents often gave me grief for this, but the interesting thing is that I understand now that their palates were quite limited as well. They weren't trying to expand my gustatory repertoire, but rather trying to align it with theirs. My parents, as adults, are extremely fussy and limited not only in what they eat, but how they will accept the foods they eat. If meat isn't cooked to the point of being dried out, it's too raw and unsafe. God forbid their chicken show any signs of juice inside! Salmonella! Danger Will Robinson!

My mother and father also never met a vegetable that they couldn't under-season or overcook. If it has anything other than salt and pepper, doesn't come from a can, and isn't pretty much mush, they will turn their noses up at it. My sister, who resides with my parents and does most of their cooking, is constantly frustrated that she can't diversify her menu or eat food flavored in the manner she'd like lest she elicit bitter complaints from my parents about how inappropriate the food is for their tastes.

I don't know if my parents are extreme in this regard, but my father-in-law is similarly limited in what he eats, so it could be a generational thing or an old person thing. All I know is that I'm willing to try pretty much anything and am often on the look-out for new and interesting flavors. One of the reasons this blog exists is so that I can continue to experience unique combinations of flavors. Sometimes, I find new appreciation for the way in which other cultures combine tastes, textures, and aromas, and, at other times, it falls pretty flat.

This is the second in a line of internationally themed flavors of potato chips that Lay's has released for the market in India. My husband bought these "Flavour Team" chips for 99 cents (about 100 yen) at an Indian market in our city. I already reviewed the "Magic Masala" version and was looking forward to trying the Spanish Tomato Tango. Incidentally, there are supposed to be 6 of these and we haven't seen them all, but there is also an "American sour cream and onion" variety. We're unlikely to try that one because it sounds pedestrian, but I wouldn't mind finding the others.

At any rate, the robot arms should have started flailing at the ingredients list which lists "sugar" as the third ingredient after potatoes and palm oil. Any time a heap of sugar is added to tomato flavoring, it signals "ketchup" (or "catsup", if you like). Now, imagine your ketchup flavor with the added twist of ginger, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, and cloves. The cinnamon, ginger, and especially the cloves add a funky spiced dimension to these which simply does not work in the opinion of my taste buds. It's like someone put their chocolate in my sunflower butter instead of my peanut butter. It's not horrible, but it doesn't quite work on some level. Much as I try to be open-minded to new flavor combinations and foods, this was more of a stretch than I could manage - yes, shades of my parents limits come to mind.

Potato chips are not my favorite thing in the whole wide world. I'll admit that. They have to be really, really great for me to decide to indulge in them at all because I'm not big into fried food in general. I'm more of a cracker/sembei/pretzel type of person and the fact that these not only failed to impress but kind of let me down means that I won't be having more of them.

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