Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cape Cod Jalapeño and Aged Cheddar Potato Chips

Submitted by Christopher Burns

"If you live in the Northeastern part of the country, as I do, you know that for us spicy food is not really considered a source of regional pride. In the rare event when a brave New Englander voluntarily ingests any substance hotter than white bread, he usually does so in a restaurant containing "Mexican" or "Indian" in the title, or some other such classification that tells him: "Don't worry. This food is not from around here. You are sampling the native cuisine of a mysterious region far, far away." This comforts him, and, as he wipes the sweat from his brow, he smiles and takes comfort in the knowledge that, when he is done with his meal, he will return to his world of bland food and liberal ideology, safe for now from all outside influences.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered these chips. I was in Ohio, of all places, when the "Cape Cod" printed in large blue letters caught my eye, and made me yearn once more for the simple pleasures of clam chowder and state-sanctioned gay marriage. Brand loyalty left over from my childhood drew me to the Cape Cod chips, but a Midwest-induced thirst for adventure forced me to pass on the original variety. That was when I picked up the green bag, the familiar lighthouse on the front complemented by a wheel of cheese and what appears to be an absurdly large jalapeño pepper (the length of the pepper and the diameter of the cheese are inexplicably equal). Taking this as proof of the New Englander's complete ignorance in the ways of the spicy pepper, I decided to try the chips, unsure of what to expect.

My first reaction was one of complete shock. Not only were the chips very spicy, they were also extremely tasty! They actually tasted like jalapeños! It was clear right away that this was no attempt by the good people of Hyannis, Massachusetts, to create just another overly spicy but completely tasteless snack food. In order to get this perfect an end product, they must have gone to great lengths to accurately reproduce the taste and spice level of a jalapeño in chip form, and I applaud their efforts. The cheese is an afterthought, adding a hint of sweetness that is welcome but largely unnoticed. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I finished the bag as quickly as my Irish Catholic taste buds would allow. But how could such a snack come from the land of lobster and tax inflation? For now, I choose to ignore such questions and instead revel in the delicious incongruity."

-from McSweeney's Reviews of New Food

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