February, I think we can agree, is kind of a dull month. The College and NFL football seasons are over, March Madness has yet to begin, and the only
exciting ”in season” produce item in grocery store seems to be the green cabbage. It’s cold but not snowing, light but not sunshining, and mostly just kind of “ugh” outside.
In an effort to boost my spirits and avoid a steady diet of processed grains and ice cream, I decided some vegetables were in order while at Big Lots a few weeks ago. Terra (aka land, thanks to my intermediate level college spanish education) chips bill themselves as exotic, and their Zesty Tomato flavor seemed to call to me like a Mediterranean cruise, only cheaper and with less chance of suburn. With a FULL SERVING of vegetables in every serving one could do worse nutritionally, while the allure of a seasoning blend of Worchestershire and celery appealed to the aristocratic snacker in me.
When I first bought these I was hoping for something Italian-themed, but the flavor itself is far from it. But that doesn’t mean the seasoning blend is anything short of exceptional. It seems a perfect hybrid of the cloyingly sweet Herr’s ketchup chip powder and the celery salt and herb spice of a really good, kettle baked “Old Bay” chip that you’ll find at any seafood resteraunt in Annapolis. Likewise, there are strong notes of a sour a fruity tang which really brings out each of the spices, while the Worcestershire and tomato powder add a level of zing and even umami I can appreciate. All in all I’m feeling that the proper balance of salt and sugar has been met, and find myself imagining this to be a great meat rub.
The problem is the chips themselves. The sweet potato chips are almost offputting, with a less than distinct crunch (almost a crumble) that is too earthy to mesh with the tomato. For the most part, the cut of all the different vegetables is too thin to support a really strong crunch, and while a few are crisp, there is too much variability in texture. Some are even annoyingly jagged, and there while others come accross as overfriend and still others as baked. Not the most pleasent chip likable mouthfeel, of course. Above all the seasonings just don’t match the flavors. Each of the chips has a distinct flavor profile, and the almost southern/Chesapeake style seasonings — while a favorite of mine — can’t come through in vegetables that aren’t native to the region of flavor the seasoning is based in. Total fusion fail.
I was lucky enough to pick these up on sale. Call in an out-of-season special if you will, or just dumb luck at Big Lots. Based on the seasoning alone I’d almost be tempted to buy these again if it weren’t for the exotic vegetables, which, contrary to whatever claims Terra may make, probably won’t fool your kid in a blind taste test with actual fried potatoes. Zesty and exotic? Yes and yes, but so is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and thankfully that doesn’t come with jagged edges and less-than-crunchy sweet potatoes.
- Price: $1.50 (Big Lots)
- Ranking: 5/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 25%