Lay’s Sriracha Chips, C’est Cheese!

I’m unaware of when, but somewhere between being six and forty-ish America went from needing a few shelves to needing a whole aisle devoted to potato chips and snack food. I’m sure there was more variety than I remember when I was six so when I say “unaware” I mean the same way I was unaware I’d like to drink Irish Whiskey and have sex while driving a Ferrari someday.

My dad was a “State Line Potato Chip” man which pretty much made me a State Line Potato Chip kid, so that and Ruffles were all I knew. The difference for the two chips was simple. State Line chips were delicious by themselves or with sandwiches. Back in the PRD-Days (That’s Pre-Ranch Dip) Ruffles were strictly for clam, bacon horseradish or onion dips at parties. Ruffles could second as a salt lick, but were better suited for dip retrieval.

Sure there were other brands but not in our house. I do remember eating pork rinds which at the time came in pork flavor, and there was the occasional pretzel which thankfully didn’t happen too often. I’ve read that pretzels started as treats for children in church who remembered their prayers. In my opinion bribing a kid to do well with a pretzel, is like offering actors flaming bags of dog turds …instead of Grammys and bags of swag. Hmm?!

So I remember in my teen years going through phases of snacks looking for “the next big thing”. I remember Pringles and the battle over whether or not they could call themselves chips. I tried Munchos, Funyuns and cheese doodles before they were Cheetos . Going to Canada to visit family and find the wonder that is “Ketchup Flavored Chips.” Then when Doritos came out with “Taco” flavored chips (now a retro flavor a.k.a. How friggin old am I?) everything seemed to change.

It seemed as though every other week new flavors would come out. We Had cheddar, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar and cool ranch amongst others. The types and varieties of chips were dizzying to the point where you’d hardly notice when “Maryland Crab” showed up or when “Dorito’s Taco” left. Just a blur of terrible flavors that made watered down salsas a welcomed addition to the chip world.

I had been seeing over the last few days blurbs about Lay’s new flavors, and if I’m being honest I was hoping to find the chicken and waffle flavor first. It wasn’t in the stars and yesterday I stumbled upon Sriracha flavor. I could go on to the point of being creepy about how much I love Sriracha but I’ll spare you the details and sound effects. Suffice it to say Sriracha and I get along famously.

I bought the chips and waited a day to get used to the thought of them being my new “Chip” my BFF and wondering how to off “The Cat” in a loving but humane manner.” What can I do with them? I thought of crushing them up and adding them to the tops of casseroles or breading for fried chicken on the underside of tuna sandwiches.

The first few chips were fine but the heat just wasn’t there… but…something else was. I got halfway through the bag trying to discern that taste. I’d tasted it before but what the hell was it and why was it in my Sriracha flavored chips?! I turned the bag over and yes of course, sour cream. But wait, there’s more! I checked down further and they added Swiss and Cream cheese flavors. WHY?! So I checked my bottle of Sriracha to make sure I hadn’t missed the “sour cream and cheese component.” Nope.

In chasing spicy chips it has been my experience that potato chip makers have no concept of hot and worse yet… no balls. These Sriracha flavored chips come up short in a weird way just as every other “spicy” chip does. So it looks as though the cat will be staying and Sriracha chips will just be a dream…an idea. Maybe someday a chip company will grow a pair and put heat and crispy potato chips together and say “there, I dare you to eat that.” Until then, I’ll just curl up with a bag of BBQ Ribs chips…and stare at the cat.




Battle of Nemo

I’ll never forget the moment as long as I live. I’m with my buddy hunkered down around the corner of a building. Looking briefly at each other and then back to the scene of such unbelievable carnage, we both knew this might be it for both of us. It was now or never and the situation was getting more unstable by the minute. Our final opportunity was at hand, so after a deep breath a fist bump and a nod we rounded the corner quickly and made our way….into the grocery store.

Kris originally from Maine was a haggard veteran of many of these campaigns. He was raised in a small town by parents who knew how to hit a grocery store before a big storm. Kris has a take no prisoner attitude and a keen eye for weakness. I saw this first hand in the famous Halloween Eve Storm of 2012. He sent an elderly woman down the bread aisle as the tempest raged because he had heard “rumors of fresh bottled water and batteries down there.” That sick son of a bitch, I think I even saw him smile a little bit.

I myself was no slouch at this as I had my first taste of grocery store battle during the “Blizzard of 78.” That was back when storms didn’t have names, they had numbers. We hit the store running on February 5th 1978… I became a man that day. Nobody suspected a boy of 10 yrs could Indian leg wrestle so well. What can I say, the man was elderly and the prize was a box of Slim Jims. I needed those Slim Jims because it snowed for nearly three days and we got almost 40 inches of snow! (To the Europeans that’s nearly 100cm of snow…I’m not sure what 3 days is in metric terms)

We were shocked by what we saw when we breached the entrance. “There are still carts!” Realizing our fortune; we grabbed the last two carts and made our way into the store. In past conflicts such as this, carts were nowhere to be seen and we were left to our own devices. Thankfully the good and kind “Remember Your Reusable Bags” brigade had spared us these luxuries. On our way in we saw some casualties who were making their way out, with looks etched into their faces that told of the many horrors they had witnessed.

“I’m going for butter!” Kris shouted. I think it was nerves, deep down he knew there would be no butter but I had his back and we made our way into the scrum. I saw people coming back out with big tubs of yogurt spread and vegetable spread and knew if we didn’t turn back now, all would be lost. “Forget the butter!” I shouted as I pulled him out of the crowd by his jacket. “But I…” he protested. “It’s a trap” I insisted.

Sure I’d seen it a hundred times… Husband or wife goes ahead while they sacrifice their better half to muddle around the butter and egg section as a delaying action, in hopes that they might make it to the milk. Sadly this was an amateur tactic and everybody knew the milk had been cleaned out some hours ago by the soccer moms after dropping their little angels off at school. There was only sadness left in the milk section, sadness and vanilla soy milk.

Kris and I regrouped, and knew what we had to do to recover from this hiccup in our operation. Cured meats would be the answer. Hot dogs, kielbasa, smoked sausages, bacon, dried sausages were all that was truly needed. Think about it, most of these products have so many preservatives in them that they’ll outlast cockroaches, and it doesn’t hurt that they taste good. Let’s face it, if you’re living in New England and don’t have a goodly amount of rice, pasta and staple canned goods in your pantry you deserve to be going down the bread and water aisle.

When checking out grab lots of candy bars because they’re good for quick energy. Remember, you’ll need that energy for your trips to the fridge and cupboards for beer, snacks and yelling at the plow guy for knocking over your mailbox. Then you’ve got hours worth of Storm coverage, an 80’s movie marathon, and the tedium of putting up with your loved ones in the same room playing Yahtzee for two days. Don’t underrate snacks, it’s amazing what a Zero Bar will do for moral when your wife has shown you home decorating ideas for 5 hours straight. (Casualty of The Blizzard of 93, but the Zero Bar was excellent)

So Kris and I got out fine people… we’re survivors, that’s what we do. Some aren’t so lucky and will get hung up on bread that sucks to begin with, milk that will spoil and water you have a faucet and bathtub full of. (Bathtub water to flush the toilet…THINK PEOPLE!) As for the batteries…well it depends. Are they for your kid’s toys, or your wife’s? Good luck with winter storm Nemo people, you’re gonna need it. 

Fast Food

I like fast food as much as a person should like fast food, which is to say I maybe have it once a month. When I do eat fast food I rarely stray from eating particular items at particular restaurants. Going to McDonald’s means I’ll be drinking enough diet coke to water board someone followed by what amounts to a quarter of what Idaho produces a year in russet Burbank potatoes. To gild the lily I get two filet o fish sandwiches because DAMN… I love those things.

Really a filet o fish is nothing more than a delivery system for steamy dill flavored mayonnaise. A chef friend of mine used to get extra tartar sauce on the side and on the sandwich, but advised against this practice pointing to the unflattering side affect of something he could only politely describe as seepage. There is nothing singularly good about a filet, but together somehow it works in the opposite way naked baby oil twister doesn’t work.

Wendy’s means I’ll be eating a spicy chicken sandwich, but for whatever reason I’m good with one. Of course I get the “Biggie” fries, mostly because they don’t have a “Feel Ashamed of Yourself” size which is probably four or five fries more than biggie size. I happen to think Wendy’s fries are slightly better than McDonald’s fries, but that’s akin to thinking being given 195 million dollars is slightly better than being given 194 million dollars…either way it’s pretty damned good.

When I’m pressed for time and want a burger I go to Five Guys. I don’t mind saying their burgers are good and their fries aren’t horrible either. I don’t get burgers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s or any other fast food place because of these people. It’s not that their product is the end all be all of burgers, but more of a statement of how completely awful everyone else’s burgers are. Now that Five Guys, Smashburger, MooYah and In-N-Out have made other burger places unnecessary. Going to the big three and looking for a good burger is like going to a seedy massage parlor and looking for a good massage.

Hey Pav what about Burger King?! Oh I’m so glad you asked. Let’s see, Burger King…If you need to take a pit stop on a road trip and you’re also looking for a watered down fast food soft-drink at the same time, BK is for you. If memory serves the last thing I ate there was a sad breakfast sandwich on a croissant-ish thing. I mean calling one of those a croissant is like calling a loaf of Wonder bread a Baguette. The last whopper I had was around my mid-twenties and the fries were sometime before that because quite frankly their fries suck, and not in a good way.

Arby’s, well I could care less that Arby’s has Deli sandwiches, I go for the original roast beef or whatever the hell that stuff is they put in the original roast beef add a packet of horsey sauce and a packet of Arby’s sauce and “Hello 1971.” If I want a deli sandwich I’ll go to a deli. The last time I tried something new at Arby’s they had just come out with the Beef n Cheddar… in short, it was just wrong. Same ingredients cannibalized from other sandwiches to make something for the sake of, making something.

Taco Bell is a perfect example of this; if you don’t like their beef, bean or chicken taco… you just gave up on 95% of their menu. I personally don’t go because I like soft corn tortillas. I haven’t had “crunchy” taco shells since high school and the soft wrap things taste like wall paper paste but not as good, so as a result I’d rather not eat anything there.  I couldn’t make my buddy understand this when he wanted to go to Taco bell recently.

Me: I don’t like their tacos.

My Buddy:“Well how about their burritos?”

Me: Dude, it’s the same four or five ingredients with hard or soft wrapper options, I really like it.

My Buddy: “So, not even the chalupas?”

Me: *Shaking head* Sigh….Image

Subway, well I have approximately one subway sandwich a year. I always order a cold BMT with all the vegetables because near as I can tell it’s the lesser of the evils. Subway is bad on so many levels it’s hard to tear their sandwiches down on any one thing. The two things they have going for them is that they happen to be in nearly every damned gas station in America, and they have vegetables in their sandwiches so you can think you’re doing the right thing. Then you pull out and examine the deli meats and realize you’re horribly mistaken. Oh and who is the dumbass ordering precooked overdone beef that gets nuked again and thinks, “Damn that’s a good sandwich.” Just stop it. You’re wasting everyone in line’s time…and besides I gotta get some washer fluid and corn nuts after this.

Forager Jenna Rozelle, Podcast

My interview with professional Forager Jenna Rozelle @JennaRozelle recorded at Moxy restaurant @MoxyNH located in Portsmouth, NH courtesy of Chef Matt Louis @mlmoxy .

Jenna forages for many incredible chefs across the country and right here on the coast of New England. With foraging, local and sustainable food making its presence known in the industry I thought it would be fun to sit down and talk with someone who’s doing something humans have done since the dawn of man, but are thankfully rediscovering. I’m personally happy Jenna and people like her are doing what they’re doing for the industry….if only to keep me from getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Chefs interested in getting product lists Jenna can be reached via Twitter @JennaRozelle