Arabic Chips

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Arabic Chips

Category : Food

I do love a quick spin round the supermarket when I’m on my travels – for one thing, I always wonder if I’d like to live there, and seeing what the grocery shopping is like is a good gauge. For another, I love to discover (and taste) local variations on popular products.

So here, fresh from a short hop to the UAE, are 3 sorts of chips which took my eye.

Lays is obviously an international brand, American in origin and around since the 1930s, but it does come up with a fascinating range of local flavours. The 2 here are produced in Saudi Arabia for regional consumption, and do a great job of capturing a distinctive Arabic taste.

Both have labneh, or yoghurt, as their main flavouring, which is pretty similar to the sour cream flavour you find elsewhere. But one includes mint and the other the ‘zatar’ blend of herbs which turns up as a dip or sprinkles in many local dishes. I liked them both, especially the ‘Lebanese mix’, and was interested to see that both included what are described as ‘natural and nature identical’ flavourings on their ingredient lists.

The Chips Oman were exactly that, and actually were manufactured in Oman. Looking at the shape of the tub, I was expecting the contents to be something very like ‘Pringles’ , but in fact the illustration is pretty exact and these chips, whilst a similar texture, are short flat strips liberally dusted with chilli powder and paprika. Of the three, these were my favourite, and I wish I’d bought more.


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Goldfish S’mores

Goldfish crackers have always been a favourite in our house, either as cute croutons in soup, or simply from the packet as a tasty snack.

We’ve sampled all the different types, which include vanilla cupcake, fudge brownie and rainbow colours, but the plain cheesy version has always come out tops.

This s’mores flavour, however, looks set to give the others a run for their money.

Not that we actually like s’mores so much, you understand. That combination of toasted marshmallow and melted chocolate sandwiched between graham crackers is just a bit too sweet and sticky for more than the occasional taste.

It’s just the memories that taste inspires, of weekends cabin camping in the Japanese alps, sitting laughing round a bonfire with marshmallows on sticks, getting burned fingers and tongues. This was when daughters #1 and #2 were members of the Girl Scouts of the USA organisation, which had an overseas troop at their school, and I was a volunteer leader.

There’s no way you can recreate that kind of thing with crackers from a packet, but you have to give Pepperidge Farm credit for trying. The familiar fish come in chocolate and graham crackers flavours, then the ‘marshmallow’ fish is a bit smaller and (sadly) more like a crunchy meringue than a squishy marshmallow, but never mind. It’s the thought that counts and this certainly hits the spot.

I found this packet in Hong Kong, where it was clearly a left over Christmas special, so doubt I will have the chance to buy more any time soon, but it was a real treat. Thanks for the memories!


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Crazy Crisps

I admit, I cannot resist the temptation of some new and unusual flavour, however unlikely it may seem. Hence the taste test of these decidedly crazy crisps whilst daughters #1 and #2 were visiting.

Surprisingly, considering these came from either Thailand or China, they were far less challenging to our taste buds than some of my previous purchases have been.

I was most hopeful of the untranslateable packet, which seemed to promise the flavour of that amazing Thai snack where you parcel bits of onion, lime, garlic, peanut, chilli and dried shrimp into a leaf to eat as you are studying the menu. Sadly, those proved to be oddly sweet, and could have done with a lot more chilli if they were to resemble the real thing.

The scallop flavour was also a disappointment, with barely a sniff of actual scallop and unpleasantly buttery overtones.

The squid variety won universal approval, though – nicely spicy, just enough of a fishy flavour to make it tasty without being overpowering. We agreed we’d probably buy that one again.

As for the cucumber crisps, they were decidedly bizarre. Daughter #1 thought the cucumber taste was interesting, but felt they were too sweet, and might work better with sweet potato crisps. Daughter #2 found them “not unpleasant but a bit weird…” and suggested they might go well with a g+t as an aperitif snack. I really did not like them at all.

Still, you have to try these things!


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