Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Seaweed Fizzle, but a Chip Success!

Pringles are probably the most popular American potato chip in South Korea. They are found in seemingly every mart, grocery, and corner store. My local Lotte Mart even has a whole shelf dedicated to the snack, providing ever more proof that "once you pop, you can't stop." 

This being Korea, though, there are bound to be some unique flavor twists to that famous, stacked chip. Salt and Seaweed Pringles is one of them. 

Just like the Japanese, Koreans eat a lot of seaweed. My favorite use is in Kimbap (김밥), a sort of Korean style California roll. The Koreans also turn them into soup, salads, side dishes and salted sheets served with beer. This last one is called gim (김), better known in the US as nori, and it is the inspiration behind the flavor of Salt and Seaweed Pringles. 

My first impression upon eating them was to wonder where the seaweed flavor was. Korean Pringles tend to be subtly flavored anyways, so it was no surprise. Yet, true to their advertising, I couldn't help but continue eating. As I did, the chips actually started to taste more like the lone, dried seaweed sheets I generally avoid at bars. Many adore salted gim. However, served alone, I prefer to wrap them around my teeth and pretend to be toothless. Nevertheless, half a tube vanished into the black hole of my face before I decided to save some for the NetBot, Eat Korea's mechanical guinea pig. 

A number of weeks had passed by the time I introduced Salt and Seaweed Pringles to the NetBot, so the chips were stale. Nevertheless, the NetBot was determined to try them anyway. This was her response:

"Mmm, I like them. And I do not even like seaweed." She paused after eating and asked, "do you have another one?"

The NetBot was given another chip. "There's no seaweed flavor," she continued before clarifying, "not the bad kind that I don't like." 

She got another chip. "I really like it. I'm really shocked!" But these weren't fresh seaweed chips. "Maybe I like them because they're stale," she mused. "Maybe I like them because they're soft."

Fresh or stale, though, the verdict is in! Seaweed Pringles don't taste much like seaweed. But even when stale, they are worth every single soft, salty bite. 

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