By Matt Levine on May 12, 2008
One of the benefits of writing is that people want your attention. One of the problems of writing is that people send you lots of stuff you’d never want to eat. Luckily we have gluttonous friend as well as nearby food bank so the rejects never get wasted. Recently we received were some cassava chips. Given NBN’s current dedication to reducing the old buddha belly down a size 32 waistline, we hesistated, thought about putting them in the give away pile, but were intrigued enough so we put them in the pantry, instead. A few weeks passed and with a family friend and my good old mother, we opened them up and boy we were surprised. We loved them. But we’ll leave the review of Arico Foods Cassava Chips Arico Foods Cassava Chips to our columnist Brian Stowell, aka The Suburban Cheapskate is a hard man to please. He isn’t a foodie who spends lots of money but he knows what he likes and especially what he doesn’t. Read on, and in case you’re wondering he’s a sober fellow who just happens to get passionate when he finds something he loves. Brian Stowell, The Suburban Cheapskate, Goes GaGa For Cassava Chips When you find yourself holding food up to the light like it’s a shard of medieval stained glass, you’re either at the peak of a high caused by your favorite illegal substance or you’re humbled by a sliver of the divine. We may find that the cassava chip will someday be hailed as a design icon, but is it the intelligent design of an omniscient deity or just the fruit of a foodie’s labor in the Great Beyond known as Oregon? I got a box in the mail this April 15th, which was the first day I had to crack a window because the car was too warm; that marks the real start of spring here in New England. Since they caught the Unabomber some years back, I’m no longer quite so wary of boxes that arrive unexpectedly. In fact, I opened my package of samples courtesy Arico Natural Foods Company with delight. I can’t believe I got away with it; people are actually sending me, the Suburban Cheapskate free food. How do I keep this scam going? The chips are ultra thin, buttery white and ringed at their delicate edges in a nutty brown; striations radiate out from the center, with random arrangements of bubbles; the chips are crisped into parabolic waves. I’m dismayed that so many of them are broken, because they are so pretty when whole but I’ll sacrifice the Pringles/Stepford Wives perfection and just appreciate a good eat. I tried the Sea Salt Mist first, responding to the packaging claim of “Low Sodim” with a sarcastic chortle. These were simply (and I mean that in it’s best, profoundest sense) good and they really are lower in sodium. The Ginger on Fire flavor was good but not fiery enough; I wanted more ginger and I wanted it to linger in my mouth. I brought the chips to my neighbors to see what they thought. Wife thought they were very good; Husband loves ginger but couldn’t discern the flavor at first (he’s also the only person to go on record as having moved to Massachusetts for the climate). Both agreed more ginger was needed. The Barbecue Bliss was deemed very good by several tasters; they liked the fact that the flavor didn’t overwhelm. I, on the other hand, wanted some lime tanginess to go with the paprika. Everyone liked the Original flavor, though none could distinguish the garlic. I dispensed the chips to my tasters like a priest depositing those wafers on the tongues of the devout but nobody in their right mind eats chips in this holier-than-thou way: I would have been content to nosh on all these until carb-induced death. They are satisfying snack treats. That said, I still wanted more bling per bite; I wanted the chips to be themselves, just more so; more ginger, more garlic, more fire.