Today at the supermarket I noticed that the geniuses in Lay’s potato chips marketing department were at it again. Of course they’ve noticed Chilean tastes. Chile’s not so tiny, after all, with 16 million inhabitants, most of them (us) with a hearty addiction to carbohidratos. Most platos típicos are comprised heavily of starch like porotos con riendas (literally beans ‘n reins, really beans with spaghetti-type-noodles), or pastel de choclo, which is a meat and onion casserole with a giant layer of pureed corn baked on top. There’s also pastel de papas, as far as I can tell is about the same thing, but with sliced potatoes on top.
Or if your lunch budget allows, you might prefer a more meat-and-potatoes meal, which will be meat, chicken, fish and either rice or potatoes. And when I say potatoes, I mean get a crane or a pulley system to get your plate back to your table or yourself back to your office. You’re going to need it. Generous quantities. PLOP.
So of course Lay’s has their eyes on this slim country with its ever-expanding waistline (Chile is among the world’s most obese countries, though the actual extent to which people are obese is quite different from other countries with notably overweight populations, such as my home country of current political circus). And to feed that carby need? That snackety-snack? No birthday party is complete without potato chips.
We have Lay’s potato chips with “a touch of oregano,” a wee bit of cheese, with cream and chives, and of course, Chilean pebre flavor. What? No Chilean pebre flavor where you are? Pebre is a delicious, condiment not dissimilar to gazpacho without the cucumbers. It’s like gallo pinto without the spice, all chopped tomatoes and onions and maybe parsely. And sometimes spicy, actually. It’s eaten (of course) on bread, though if it were fashionable, I would absolutely eat it with a spoon. Think of it as a make-your-own bruschetta. I cannot say enough good things about pebre.
I bought the pebre-flavored potato chips once and found them pretty lackluster. For one thing, since I’ve moved to Chile, the only processed food I eat with regularity is breakfast cereal. I’ve lost my ability to believe that something cheezeflavored is anything but that. And tomato-onion-parsely flavor? Equally impossible to swallow.
So today, when under the dieciocho (national holiday, coming up on, you guessed it, the 18th) display there were Chilean grilled meat flavored potato chips, I was at a loss for what to do. On the one hand, I wasn’t in the mood for chips, and I have no upcoming birthday parties where I could foist them off. There’s also the issue of the “flavor.” It seemed unlikely that they would actually taste like meat, but the thought gave this two-plus-decades-of-no-food-that-walks girl a bit of pause. What if they actually did taste like meat? Then what would I do? Spit them out? Wash my tongue with Cif? (Chilean cleaning product). A mere mortal might have taken a picture, but I’ve been shooed out of this supermarket for taking pictures before, and I really wanted my giant three-pack of Vital water (two dollars! 4.8 liters of bubbly water) and piece of mystery squash (you guessed it, zapallo). So you’ll have to join me in wondering what these meat-flavored potato chips are really like. And would Argentina’s meat-flavored potato chips taste better? There’s a bit of a rivalry on the meat front, though I’m told Argentina always wins.
Kind of like how Brazil trounced Chile last night in the qualifying match for something or another. 3-0. That hurts.
So… what flavor potato chips do my far-flung readers have in their countries? Is Lay’s all over the place in places like Brazil and Sweden and Angola, Portugal and Canada, Qatar and I’ve almost forgotten where else, hopping on the national tastebud sensation and cooking things up as the locals like them? Inquiring minds want to know.