Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leader Price Chips a l’Ancienne Saveur Moutarde

The bag looked just like this,
but had the words 'Moutarde'
written on it at the bottom.
Old-Fashioned Mustard Flavor
In addition to always having liked chips (and fighter planes, and obscure histories, etc.), I’ve always been a big fan of mustard.  Not the neon yellow stuff you squirt in a squiggly line on a hot dog out of a grenade shaped bottle, but rather the French Dijon and Old-Fashion grainy mustard eaten alongside chicken breasts and steaks.  My parents had to persuade me that sometimes my meat had enough flavor on its own that mustard was unnecessary.  But honestly, mustard-love truly is one of my authentically French qualities.
You can tell it's ancient because of
the grimy old pot and the primitive
seed crushing technolog.
Therefore it was both gratifying and very appropriate-seeming when I noticed mustard flavored chips on the snack-food aisle in both of the major French grocery stores we frequent.  Now, I believe I have already seen Dijon-flavored mustard chips in the United States on one occasion, but these chips were sporting Old-style (or ‘ancient’) mustard.  Dijon mustard is much more recognized in the United States, (open up any textbook with a definition for ‘snob appeal’ and Grey Poupon will inevitably be cited) and I agree it is rightly a classic, but I’ve become more of a fan of Old Style mustard as I continue to inch closer and closer to the nursing home.  This is a grainy mustard, more vinegary in flavor, slightly closer to ‘American’ brown mustard in taste but far more classy by virtue of its seeded texture.  It also goes wonderfully with roast or corned beef sandwiches, as immortalized by a memorable torturer of Humanity's last, best hope for peace.  (Skip ahead to 2:01 on the video) 
So when I first bit into these, I was left pretty disappointed for the glaring lack of vinegar flavor that came with these chips.  It’s pretty simple: moutard a l’ancienne= vinegary sour tang, and chips = not vinegary at all.  Obviously, I want there to be more than just vinegar, but a complete lack is a serious miscalculation in my opinion.  Just as importantly, they aren’t particularly spicy, which is kind of the raison d’etre of mustard in the first place!
Mustard Seed: now this is the real
stuff!  Fittingly enough, it's rather
reminiscent of explosive pellets.
My appreciation for these did grow somewhat over time, however.  As is often the case, the chips at the bottom of the bag had more flavoring than the top, and these did exhibit an admirably effective mustard-seed flavor, (and mustard seeds are indeed at the top of the ingredient list!), with an appropriate mix of onion and salty overtones.  If they had only mixed in an appropriate amount of vinegar they would have been perfect, but the better coated chips still conveyed a fairly convincing mustard-seed flavor.
I final word in their favor- while the chips do indeed have ‘old fashioned’ mustard, the title of the chips actually reflects the quality of the crisps, which is the French way of saying they are more-akin to kettle baked.  In this regard, I must praise the general quality of the potato crisps themselves, which were crunchy and rumply, and sold in above average quantity and quality at a below average price.

Stars: 2/4
Spiciness Rating: Very Mild

-Evocative mustard seed flavor, made with real mustard seeds!
-Excellent thickly textured crisps at a bargain price

-Hardly any vinegar flavor in a mustard chip?  For reallz?
-Not spicy either!
-Uneven flavor coating leaves top of the bag inferior to the bottom

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