Friday, 21 June 2013

Tyrrell's Sweet Chili and Red Pepper Potato Chips

It's a free-for-all where Tyrrell's English crisps are involved. Here, an entire Shakespearean tragedy is re-enacted in this amateur theatre production of Hamlet the Cannibal Hippo of Hereford.
In Grade 8 my gym teacher once looked at me and inexplicably yelled, "Laba, if you ever have kids they're gonna look like potato chips." I still don't know what he meant or what prompted him to blurt out this comment in the first place. Maybe he was just unhappy with my feeble pushups or snail-pace rope climbing. Yes, I might have been skinny and non-athletic but did that necessarily mean I carried potato chip DNA. Would I one day hand that 'tater gene down to my future children? A frightening thought. Especially if my children did resemble potato chips because if so I would probably eat them. Just like the Greek god, Titan Cronus, made famous in a Goya painting (those were the days before Instagram), except he devoured his kids for completely different reasons. His motivation was because he feared he would be overthrown by his children one day (tell me about it) and me, because my kids had sour cream and onion flavouring. But now that I have kids and they look nothing like potato chips, I'm thoroughly relieved and my penchant for potato chips leads me down different avenues of crispy investigation. Which directed me to this British crisps company out of Herefordshire. Now I know Herefordshire is famous for its cattle (the famed Hereford cow with its distinctive reddish-brown body colour that's very close in hue to my Uncle Benny's toupee), cider production and the fact it's still legal to shoot a Welshman on a Sunday in Hereford as long as you're using a longbow and the Hereford Cathedral is within sight. Well, now you can add potatoes to that eminent list with locally grown potatoes, some sporting some very aristocratic names, the Lady Claire and Lady Rosetta being two good examples. Honestly, after tasting these chips I think all these potatoes deserve knighthoods. Hand-cooked in small batches, these chips have that natural crisp texture that food additive dusted potato chips can only fake like a bad Elvis impersonator in a stained white pantsuit performing out back of a 7-Eleven using a dumpster lid as a stage. The sweet chili and red pepper variety I sampled struck that perfect balance between spicy and sweet, neither upstaging the other, like Sir Laurence Olivier directing Don Knotts and Goldie Hawn in Hamlet. In the ingredients listings I was surprised to see ginger, star anise and basil, which I think you can safely say and certainly taste, adds a depth to these 'tater wafers that round out the more aggressive notes of the jalapeno chili and cayenne pepper speckling. The added beauty is each chip has its own unique curl and twist to its shape, no two seemingly alike much like snowflakes or socks in your drawer and with their edges rimmed by remnants of 'tater skin, taking the uniformity out of chips as we know them, each crisp has its own personality. As if the chips weren't good enough, the packaging adds a whole other level of enjoyment to your munching. Each bag comes emblazoned with a vintage photo of intriguing-looking English people engaging in peculiar activities. Eccentric is what I believe they call these people overseas. On this side of the pond we simply say crazy. The sweet chili and red pepper bag comes adorned with two stern-looking gents with impressive mustaches riding in what appears to be a tiny turn-of-the-century fire engine and wearing firemen hats that look as if they were stolen from the Smurf village. As if this wasn't entertaining enough, the company invites people to send in their own photos of their eccentric family or friends along with a story about them so if you have an old snapshot of Uncle Ralph in a Speedo milking rattlesnakes by the banks of the Mississippi in 1940 or Aunt Eleanor wearing her retractable motorized pompadour you can win free chips for a year or even more. Actually, the website abounds with plenty of fun stuff, good for perusing while crunching through bags of these crisps though I find it interesting that on the UK site,, about the spicy chips I tried it says, "Extinguish With A Pint Of Bitter but on the American site,, the pint of bitter is switched out for a cup of iced tea. Maybe the result of all those shows about interventions on American reality TV but if a company can't advise people to try their chips with a nice pint of bitter or Pabst Blue Ribbon or Budweiser for that matter, you might as well go back to Prohibition.
Ah, a chip to soothe the savage beast. No doubt this hippo has lost his fondness for human head meat after trying these English potato chips.

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