Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arrico: Barbecue Bliss Cassava Chips

Brand: Arrico
Style: Barbecue Bliss Cassava Chips
Origin: USA (by way of Indonesia)
Type: Cassava chips
Flavor: Solid, mild barbecue flavor
Verdict: Approved

There's nothing I love more than being in the tropics, except eating the food of the tropics. Although I'd prefer to be munching on these cassava chips while lounging on a beach or a mountainside in Costa Rica, I'm thankful I can eat them at my desk and close my eyes, pretending the never-ending drone of my coworkers is some sort of very talkative ocean, and that the refrigerated blast of air from the vent over me is actually a soothing, steady sea breeze. Pura vida, verdad? Oh, sorry, I was so caught up in my fantasy, I started speaking Spanish!

For those of you whose palettes have yet to be expanded into the tropical treat that is cassava, it's basically the root of a plant that looks like a small tree. The texture is akin to a starchy potato, only somehow better. It's also known as yuca (not to be confused with yucca, totally different species) and it's what tapioca is made of.

These chips are thinly sliced and have a delicate crunch to them. It's difficult to describe, but more something that simply needs to be felt against one's tongue. The barbecue flavoring is a little sparse, but tasty. It's mild and sweet, my favorite kind. All in all, these get a thumbs up from the Snackmaster!

Purchased: Grocery Outlet, Portland, OR

Monday, April 27, 2009

Walkers: Cajun Squirrel

Brand: Walker's
Style: Cajun Squirrel
: England
Type: Potato chip (or crisp, if you're in jolly ol' England)
Flavor: Greasy, spicy meat. Did I mention greasy? And meaty?
Verdict: Failed, but at least it makes a good story

A friend of mine recently traveled overseas, and I gave her my usual request that I give everyone when they ask me what I want brought back: “The weirdest chips you can find. Make sure there’s no actual meat, but meat-flavored is cool.” I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons, but still miss the taste of meat. Generally, everyone forgets and I end up with a souvenir shot glass or magnet, but this time, my girl pulled through and brought me Walker’s Cajun Squirrel Crisps. Upon having the bag presented to me, I had to take a moment of silence to compose myself before the emotional logorrhea of gratitude started pouring out of my mouth. I almost cried.

The chips themselves are part of a promotional contest that Walker’s is putting on, with other flavors including Fish and Chips and Builder’s Breakfast, amongst others. I had to restrain myself from asking why she didn’t bring me all of them to sample. We gleefully opened the bag and were hit with a powerful wave of a definitively Cajun scent: spicy, peppery, and meaty. I popped one of the oddly-orange-colored crisps into my mouth and was assaulted with the flavor of what can only be described as greasy, spicy meat, with an emphasis on the greasy. My father told me a tale of his youth where his friend’s mother served him raccoon for dinner one night, and based on that description, I’d say these chips are right in line with the essence of animals usually reserved for roadkill. Everyone that I made try them got sick, self included, so I can’t say I’d recommend them for the weak of stomach, but for those with a stomach of steel and a palette to match, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can’t be missed.

Purchased: England

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bhuja: Cracker Mix

Brand: Bhuja
Style: Cracker Mix
: India
Type: Mix
Flavor: Spicy, exotic, strong cumin and chili balanced by sweetness of raisins
Verdict: Approved

As the Snackmaster, I've tasted many a snack from around the world, and although I love to go through an entire bag of one flavor of treat, I can't deny the lure of a mix. I'm ADD when it comes to many things, and my snacks are no exception. Eating a tasty mix like Bhuja is like Adderall for my mouth.

There are actually four flavors of Bhuja: Original, Cracker, Fruit, and Nut, of which I've tried the Original and the one which is the focus of this post, the Cracker. The mix contains several different shapes of rice crackers, some spicy, some with seaweed, green peas, peanuts, raisins, and two types of multigrain noodles. The noodles are made with yellow peas, rice, potato, tapioca, and sesame seeds, and spiced with chiles, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and paprika. The overarching flavor is definitely the cumin, which gives it an exotic flair.

The whole peas and raisin thing might sound a little weird to some of you novice snackies out there, but it works well. Everything is mildly spiced and the sweetness of the raisins complements that perfectly, keeping the spice at a managable level even for those with sensitive palettes.

The only discernible difference between the Cracker and Original flavors, as far as I can tell, is the addition of the rice crackers, as well as less fat. The Snackmaster definitely approves of this snack!

Purchased at Grocery Outlet, Portland, OR