Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

24 May, 2005

From the Kettle

This week's quest for the ultimate salt & sour potato chip takes us to Oregon where the Kettle Foods Company brings us their take on junk food manna.



I give credit to Kettle for a tasty chip. They use locally grown Russets and fry them in safflower and/or sunflower oils. They lay down the salt and vinegar and let a good thing be. There's no additional seasoning added and there's no preservatives. I bought a 5 oz bag for an ungodly amount at the Coop.

These aren't just salt & vinegar, they're sea salt and vinegar. Presumably, this is what makes them "gourmet". Like seemingly all such varieties, the chips are thicker than the average chip with a nice crispy texture. At first I thought they'd be crunchy instead as there are deep brown streaks all over the chips. But they were anything but overdone. As I said above, they are tasty. In fact, I ate the whole bag. (I followed it up with a bowl of granola to roto-root the old arteries.) There was a decent amount of sour but not enough to make me pucker up. And the vinegar was your garden variety white stuff. The great disappointment is that there's not enough salt. Is extracting salt from the sea so laborous and expensive that it can only be rationed out or what? Lay that NaCl down there, Bubba!! While the overall taste was good, but the sour was a bit shallow. There was an inital burst of sour but it petered out quickly, much to my chagrin. After devouring the whole bag, my tongue was slightly numbed.

I've begun to hypothesize that the reason why the chips I've tasted so far seem to be short on the sour is that they're thicker than average. It seems like the immediate sour taste is being quickly overrun by the fats in the chip and thicker chips have more fat. I did a little research but didn't come up with much. But I did find this info which is a start:

Salty
With salty substances (e.g., table salt, NaCl), the receptor is an ion channel that allows sodium ions (Na+) to enter directly into the cell. This depolarizes it allowing calcium ions (Ca2+) to enter and triggering an action potential in the attached sensory neuron.

Sour
Several types of receptors may be involved in detecting the protons (H+) liberated by sour substances (acids).

Clearly more research on my part about the sense of taste is sorely needed.
|| Palmer, 10:21 PM

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