Happy February, dear friends!
The adventure began when I was on a mission to add a savory pick to my snack stash. As such, my snack radar was set on seeking flavorful munchies that would be perfect to chomp on while watching a movie at home after a long week of work. Not long after commencing my customary browse in the snacks aisle during my visit to a local shop here in the Lion City, an intriguing packet of chips/crisps from Peru grasped my attention.
When I think of Peru, Paddington Bear and his Aunt Lucy tend to spring into my mind. The marmalade-loving bear from ‘darkest Peru’ entertained me with his many adventures when I was a child, so my intrigue was piqued when I read the words “Peruvian farmers” on the package. I’ve had Peruvian chocolates before, but I had yet to taste more of Peru’s delicious produce.
Also, these chips are far from ordinary: a mix of sweet potato, cassava and plantain chips sit inside the bag. Banana/plantain chips and cassava chips have a soft spot in my heart, so I was especially excited to warmly welcome them back into my snack stash. As for sweet potato chips, it was going to be a reunion with an acquaintance.
The root veggies and plantains that have been transformed into chips are from Peru too. Plus, they are gluten-free, and only salt and high oleic sunflower oil are the additional ingredients besides the actual produce. Also, the brand behind these chips, Inka Chips, is based in Lima.
Admiring the images of delicious produce on the package, I was inspired to step into my sleuthing wellies (in honor of Paddington, of course) for a mini foodie excursion to Peru through my screen.
A Little Peek Into Peruvian Cuisine
There are many mouth-watering dishes to discover in Peru. I waved my metaphoric magnifying glass to learn a bit about these 3 veggies and fruits in Peru, and some delicious eats that place them in the spotlight. Interestingly, Peru’s tourism site also features some trivia on the root veggies, which I enjoyed reading.
Cassava originates from the northern part of the country, including the Amazonian region. This root veggie is a beloved ingredient in local dishes. A dish that appeared instantly in my sleuthing is yuca fritas (or ‘yuca fries’ in English), which are cassava-based fries/chips. Just like regular fries, a sauce of the foodie’s choice (or sauces for variety) accompanies this eat to dip the thick golden fries into.
Plantain is one of the most classic ingredients in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. They tend to grow in a tropical climate, which fits Peru’s tropical landscape. A popular plantain option to snack on in Peru is chifles, which are crispy plantain chips. They remind me of the chips I was about to taste!
Sweet potato is harvested in various places around the country, and it is also adored in the local food scene. Rounding off my sleuthing on a sweet note is Peruvian doughnuts called picarones, which comprise of a combination of sweet potato and pumpkin or squash in the dough. The doughnuts are coated in a lovely sweet syrup.
Back to the Chips
I was undeniably elated to open this bag of munchies. With the pops of radiant shades of orange and yellow, the ‘tropical chips’ mix certainly celebrates the tropical theme. Each chip features the aesthetic details of the actual produce in their pre-chip forms – the shapes, colors and definitions of the veggie and fruit slices make the chips very delectable.
My taste test began with the largest-sized chip on my plate: the sweet potato. Its taste was on the mild side at first, but further into the munching process, the chip’s sweet potato flavor became bolder with its quintessential sweet notes. That taste remained until the end.
Even though I’m not a big fan of sweet potatoes in general, I surprisingly enjoyed these chips and found myself reaching for another piece! Once again, I was reminded of the “never say never” philosophy in the foodie realm.
The next chip on my Peruvian snacking itinerary was the cassava chips. Albeit possessing a “neutral” flavor that cassava is known for, the cassava chips’ taste is enhanced by the salt and sunflower oil. It’s a nice straightforward flavor.
Being one of those foodies who saves the most exciting part for last, I finally chose a few pieces of the plantain chips to taste. The idea of including two kinds of plantain chips – sweet and savory – in this mix is intriguing. To me, it was a bit of a mystery to identify each chip as either ‘sweet’ or ‘savory’ from simply scrutinizing them visually.
After a few taste tests to be sure (well, also because they are simply delicious), I discovered that the ones with a stronger brown-ish hue are sweeter, and the ones with a golden sunshine-like color are savory. I reckon the sweet ones are ripe plantains, while the savory ones are plantains that are less ripe. The sweet ones remind me of the banana chips that I tend to eat – they taste like regular bananas in the form of chips with the sweetness and signature flavor that everyone know and love. The savory ones, to my taste buds, have a banana note sans the sweetness.
All in all, I had a blast in my mini Peruvian food adventure. The chips are definitely worthy of snacking sessions, especially with the nice variety of flavor tones to experience and appreciate in every chip. I believe Paddington would approve these chips too.