Saturday, 16 April 2011
Gourmet Crisps: An Article
I have been thinking about writing this article for a while. However, it is not until today that I have felt compelled to do so; the crisp packaging that pushed me over the edge? The Hairy Biker’s ‘Keralan King Prawn with Coconut’ crisps.
When I was growing up, you had salted, salt & vinegar, cheese & onion and beef. This was about 15 years ago. Now, I am not someone who doesn’t like when things change or evolve, in fact I love it. I love when things get re-invented or gain a new lease of life. However, the price of crisps has gone up and so has the expectation. Do they live up to that expectation? Of course not. Mind you, can we blame them for not being able to make the humble potato taste like a Sunday roast, or a Thai green chicken curry? What’s next? Heston’s 12 course - Michelin starred tasting menu, dehydrated, powdered and then shaken in a bag with fried potatoes being sold for £20 a bag? I think we may have an idea that could get to market there!
Back to the Hairy Biker’s.
How can anything in this bag possibly be Keralan? Okay, so it’s possible that they sourced the powdered Crustacean’s from Kerala, which begs the question, ‘Why did you waste some of the greatest produce this world has to offer on a bag of crisps!? Also, who are we to prove or disprove that the prawns were ‘king prawns’ and why would we care, seeing as they’ve been obliterated into a crisp seasoning!? Picture in your head now, a beautiful steaming dish of spiced Keralan prawns with a splash of coconut cream and half a fresh coconut on the side, sat on the beach looking out at the Indian Ocean. Now imagine yourself eating a bag of crisps. These two things are poles apart! Stop making heaven seem attainable on a Waitrose supermarket shelf!
Then you have the more commercial, saturated end of the market, such as Walker’s Thai Sensations and Pringles Gourmet Beef Burger. Gourmet? Crisps? Unthinkable!
It all reminds me of an over the top cafe, me and a friend once joked about opening. The business plan was, ‘see how much you can rip people off by selling them everyday food at inflated prices, just by tinkering with the description.’ So, here’s an example.
Jacket Potato & Beans gets sold at £12.50 by telling yummy mummies the following;
The finest British baking spud, sourced locally and crisp roasted with Lebanese Olive Oil, piped with mature cheddar, locally churned butter and Britain’s favourite...haricot beans baked with a sweet and salty tomato sauce.
Funny I know, but is it that far removed from what Waitrose and the Hairy Biker’s are selling us in order to keep their profits gigantic?
What it all boils down to is this; Don’t just buy any old crap at inflated prices, because someone has romanticised it as much as humanly possible. After all, we’re famous for our abundance of potatoes, how much can you possibly get away with charging for them?
Hairy Biker’s Crisps are now available at Waitrose for £1.79 per 150g. Flavours available are (try not to laugh);
Keralan King Prawn with Coconut
Chicken Tom Yum
Prosciutto Ham & Blue Cheese
Lemon & Olive Tagine
NB. I actually quite like these two. They remind me of my nan, only my nan never got rich off crisps.