Cost: 100 yen
Found At: 7-11
When I thought about my life and my future, I never expected it to contain the sentence, “I expected these to be squid tentacles.” But life is funny, and I expected this small snack package to contain squid tentacles. In fact, when I opened up the package, helpfully adorned with caution tape in English and the image of a flaming pepper, I discovered that the round shapes that I took for squid were, in fact, cross sections of dried peppers.
I’m a late comer to spicy food in life. It took me a while to get there, but with the help of sriracha sauce and a year in China, I like to think that I’ve come around. But I’m not heavyweight, not by a long shot. I remember one incident in particular when I ordered spicy Pad Thai in Walla Walla, and the colorful Thai woman who ran the restaurant came barging out of the kitchen, spatula in hand:
“Do you want American spicy or Thai spicy?” she demanded, making intimidating eye contact as she squared up next to the table.
I remember thinking about it, and realizing that while I might talk a big talk, there was still a lifetime of flavors that I wanted to try. I was not ready for Thai spicy – I am, and may always be, American spicy.
And I am happy to report that, despite all the labels to the contrary, these chips were firmly “American spicy.” They pack a punch, with the smoky flavor of peppers, the citrusy flavor of Sichuan peppercorns, and the heat of capsaicin. But unlike the “death sauce” that Emil brought home from the Don Quixote, the spiciness of these chips is quick to subside and does not cause any lingering bowel discomfort. They are the kind of spicy that you can enjoy with a sweet drink and an action movie, without ending up in tears. In short, you can enjoy these chips without milk and live to tell the tale.