we ate a lot of chips in europe – really, as many and as often we could, spending as much time as we did infighting and friendless, stalking the streets of Paris, Rome, Marseille with our plastic sacks of tiny watery french beers and unslakeable thirsts for something worth writing home about.
unfortunately and paradoxically (as i -am- writing home about them, after a fashion) Bret’s Chorizo chips do not really qualify.
it is useful in this project to have already a shared lexicon, as do those of us who came of age in the canadian wilds during the heady madness of the Early ’90s Chip Flavour Bonanza (pizza! hamburger! hot dog! roast turkey & stuffing! bacon & . . . chive or something!). we already have these flavour complexes to work with – handy as points of reference, but that perhaps also hinder our ability to break down and properly evaluate what it is we are tasting.
the canon already does this – salt & vinegar, bbq, ketchup, to a lesser extent sour cream n’ onion and dill pickle – think of how complex are even those elementary particles! by way of example, take the list of ingredients for Ruffles “Authentic BBQ”: Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Brown Sugar, Onion Powder, Monosodium Glutamate, Spices, Salt, Tomato Powder, Molasses Solids, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Modified Corn Starch, Artificial Color [Including Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1], Sunflower Oil, Garlic Powder, Corn Starch, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Natural Mesquite Smoke Flavor, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate.
to say nothing of so hilarious a succession of chemical compounds*, the actual organoleptic profile – the phenomenal and psychological experiences of so many interacting flavours, clustering into identifiable units of taste, progressively aggregating in the mind until one has a (somewhat) clear sense of what is meant by “bbq” (or salt & vinegar, which one can bet is only exceptionally just salt and vinegar) is both impressive and typical of the sort of shortcuts the brain creates in order to make the perceptual world liveable, endurable.
which leads then to conversational double-helixes such as the following:
“it’d be a pretty good pizza chip, though.”
“yeah, except if it was a pizza chip, you’d still be like, this doesn’t taste like pizza.”
. . . .
“well, maybe a pepperoni pizza.”
“yeah, i suppose this spicy cured meat flavoured potato chip does maybe taste like pizza with spicy cured meat on it.“
* the November 23rd issue of the New Yorker, which i am long past due talking about, it being the FOOD ISSUE, and having a feature article on POUTINE (“Quebec’s Funniest Food“) no less, contains a thoroughly fascinating article by Raffi Khatchadourian on Givaudan, global leader in taste/scent manufacture, which you should check out if you’re in the least interested in interesting things. my attitude toward the piece is in noway influenced by reading it on a park bench in Marseille, stuffing myself with fresh baguette and camembert. it was a sunny day and we didn’t get laughed at much (although once, gallingly, by two 13-year-olds on a motorbike), but i think “The Taste Makers” holds its own.