Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chio Chips Bacon szalonna izesitesu

If one European country comes close to matching the American fondness for wrapping everything in bacon, it must be Hungary, and there’s an interesting explanation rooted in ethno-zoology.  Mangalica is a species of hairy hog raised almost exclusively in Hungary and the Balkan that’s quite in fashion with the chefs in Budapest.  When I heard they were ‘hairy hogs’ I imagined something like an extra-whispy wild boar, like the Thundertusk boar in the Monster Manual, but actually they look instead rather like sheep.  In pig form. 

Woolly enough to make knit sweater out of. 
Apparently, mangalica are declining in popularity outside of the haute-cuisine scene because they mostly produce lard, which isn’t a winner in these health-conscious times, but lardy pork nevertheless has uses in a number of remarkably tasty things such as sausage and bacon.  While I can’t say I pulled any hairs from my pork, I certainly came to appreciate the local fondness for bacon.  My best meal in Hungary: chicken stuffed with bacon, stuffed with asparagus with gorgonzola polenta.  Hungarian menus evince the indisputable reality that there are few dishes that can’t be improved by a judicious application of salty-sweet pork- and/or cream sauce.

Yes, that's aspargus in bacon
in fried chicken in balsamic
Chio’s Bacon chips promised a lot along these lines, with a beautiful image of a slab of dark bacon displayed gratuitously on the cover of the bag, and it was hard not to respond to its whispered promises.  A quick trip back to the guesthouse we were lodged in at Blaha Lujza revealed, however, that these were fairly ordinary salty barbecue flavored chips.

Now, unlike in France, we did not see ‘Barbecue’ products on the store shelves, so it seems that this tried and true vein of tasty seasoning was simply being labeled in a fashion more appropriate to local tastes.  These chips did a reasonable job of conveying a salty-smoky aroma, only using natural flavoring and coloration if the blurb on the package is to be believed.  They did more to evoke barbecue than bacon, but towards the end of the package, I could kind of imagine I was tasting the extra salty and crunchy bacon that’s been very thoroughly fried on the grill till it’s brittle and crispy.

I kind of imagined a 'hairy pig'
would look like this, but the reality is
less stabby.
The crisps themselves were reasonably pretty and authentic looking but not particularly crunchy- they had that thin-styrofoam texture to them which is acceptable in snack food, but less than virtuous.  As a whole, these chips proved serviceable but not exceptional- those looking for a familiar barbecue-like experience will be satisfied, but if you’re in Hungary, you might as well go for something a little more exotic.  Say, for example, actual sheep-pigs.

Stars: 2/4
Spiciness Rating: None

- Decent barbecue flavor, may eventually remind you of crispy bacon

- More barbecue-y than bacon, not particularly inventive
- The crisps themselves aren’t very crunchy


  1. I want my sheep pig to be stabby, suggestions?

  2. Through generations of selective breeding, you can raise a pig that sees only blood through its enraged brows, and ride it into battle AS WELL AS knit socks and uncomfortable underwear from it. Orcs figured this out long ago- the underwear ensures the greenskins are just as enraged as the boars: