Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cerealis Chips-Up Hot & Spicy

My final Tunisian Chip sampling was to take place nearly three months after my partner’s return from Tunisia, on a picnic in the Gardens of Versaille.  By Gardens we’re talking about a piece of property the size of a national park, and you can vividly see in the beautiful flower arrangements, breath taking vistas, and scarifying hedge mazes all of the peasants that were left unfed just so that the Sun King could employ a gardening staff the size of an army division and coat his wrought iron garden-fences with gold.  Yes, the peasants are revolting, but oh my god, just look at those hydrangeas!

In this romantic setting of reflected glory (quite literally, it was a very sunny day and there was a lot mirror-polished gold all about), I opened up the last Tunisian chip bag and began my degustation.  Yet again, I found that the imagery on the bag- which suggests something rather potato-chip like in appearance- to be deceiving.  The Chips Up line instead appears to be made out of a mash up of recombined potato mix pressed into softly-crunchy shells reminiscent of Indian papadum or Asian shrimp chips.  This is not meant to sound as gross as it does, it just needs to be clarified that these are not potato chips but potato-based snacks. On the whole, each of the ‘chips’ is pretty large and abundant with surface area, and their soft crunch is reasonably satisfying.

Given the relatively tame nature of so many chips that claim to be spicy, I actually had pretty low expectations that these chips would live up to their title.  Here, though, I was to be pleasantly surprised- Cerealis did not skimp on applying the spices, and each individual crisp proved to be potently piquant.  They did skimp on the food coloring, which in general is something I’m supposed applaud them for, but I must admit eating pure-white chips without any visual cues as to their spicy nature can be a disconcerting experience.

Papadum: thin, crunchy and salty indian
cracker/chip things, preferably eaten
dipped in chutney or tamarind sauace.
A more serious shortcoming, however, is the lack of additional flavors.  They are not spicy-barbecue, or spicy-garlicky, or spicy-pepper (though the cover art does suggest some bright red pepper powder), they are just plain spicy without apparent flavor they are specifically meant to evoke.  So although I respect their spice-power, like the infamous band, I want some more substance to go along with it.
Yes, the gardens go on until the end of the canal.  And they
gon on for a mile on each side, too.  And there's a special
palace just for the Queen behind the woods to the right...
‘Chips Up’ appears to be an entire line of what I assume to be similarly formed crisps with different flavorings, and assuming they can apply other flavorings with the same effectiveness that they applied the spices on the snack I tried, I think they might be worthy of consideration by travelers in Tunisia (or natives, for that matter.)  While hardly revolutionary, the potato-snack format is a little more quirkily original than the other Tunisian chips I tried, and the genuine spiciness of the Hot & Spicy variant suggests that the other flavors might show some similar virtues.

Stars: 2/4
Spiciness Rating: Hot

- Recombined potato-snacks that are somewhat original and boast excellent surface area
- Truly, genuinely spicy-hot seasoning on each crisp

- Serious lack of supporting flavors
- May be disappointing for anyone expecting crunchy potato chips


  1. "cracker/chip things"?

    Wafers: It's good to learn words.

  2. Alys, try searching 'wafer' in Google images: you will find a variety of sweet cookie-like snacks ('Vanilla Wafers', or various gaufrette-type sweets). Also, communion wafers, which are perhaps the most comparable- but in any case, 'wafers' are generally understood to be a sweet rather than savory snack. Papadum is also a lot crunchier than most things understood to be wafers.