Sep 25th, 2008 by Jonny
Those of you who have watched or read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, will be familiar with the idea of top fives. In the movie, the main character (played by John Cusack) is a record shop owner, who spends most of the movie revisiting the demise of his past relationships, and in so doing, constantly re-imagines his top five break-up songs according to how each break-up made him feel. However, top fives are not limited to songs or relationships, you can have a top five anything: top five smells, top five colors, top five sneaker brands, top five breakfast foods, etc., anything at all.
There are only two rules to top fives: one, everyone’s top fives are different, i.e. there is no single right or wrong top five; and two, your own top five selection will almost certainly change over time, as Cusack’s did according to the particular break-up.
One top five that I spent much of my early twenties thinking about is my top five crisps, or potato chips. Much of this thinking was done in the pub because a) much of my social life was in the pub, and b) after a number of pints, one often finds oneself craving salty snacks. This craving led to the purchase of far too many bags of crisps in a variety of halitosis-inducing flavors, followed by lengthy arguments about their various merits.
The purists, and I happen to agree, would argue that you shouldn’t compare potato crisps with cheese puffs because the latter are made from corn. It would be like comparing dogs to cats. So rather than do a top five salty, packaged snack foods that are good with beer, this is simply a top-five potato crisp/chip flavors. Of course, this begs the question what my top five salty, packaged snack foods are, or if a better top five would be my top five cheesy corn snacks, but that would be another post, or number of other posts.
without lines of reasoning, because yours won’t be the same as mine, and my top five might even change if you suggest a flavor I’ve left out. It’s all very subjective, and, some may say, pointless, but I love top fives because they are a source of endless and purile debate, which in election season might just be the antidote you need.The “best” top five (selected according to how I’m feeling at the time) will win a flavor-selection of fine English crisps.
(Please note that you might not be familiar with some of my top five – the UK, generally speaking, leads the world in the variety of potato crisp/chip flavors available – but there are many flavors available in the US now so this shouldn’t be a problem.)
Top Five Potato Crisps/Chips Flavors (in reverse order)
5. beef & onion (sounds nasty, and is, in a way – meat flavor potatoes anyone? but, like #4, it’s a taste investment)
4. cheese & onion (similar to cheese & chive, but the onion-y tang gives it that little extra oomph now and through the morning after)
3. worcestershire sauce (it really does taste like Lea & Perrins’ classic condiment, not as stinky as #5, but still tangy enough when you’re drunk)
2. prawn cocktail (this flavor began resembling cocktail sauce (ketchup & horseradish), but these days has a slightly shrimpy, sweet tomato taste. Too fishy for some, just right for me.)
1. Of course, the king, beating out every other flavor by a country mile, salt n’vinegar. What can I say? It’s just magnificent. The perfect combination of salt and acid with the fried potato taste of the crisp. Cuts the beery mouth feel and encourages salivation, then requires more beer to refresh the slightly parched tongue, and when you get to the bottom corners of the bag where all the flavor and crumbs reside, the vinegar’ll turn your lips purple. Glancing around the pub, you tell you’re not alone as you spot other sn’v lovers by shade of their lips.
Check out some other posts you may enjoy:
- Toad in the Hole (An Easy English Family Meal and, No, Toads Aren’t Involved)
- Gambas al Ajillo (A Simple, Authentic Tapa)
- The Forbes Top 10 Celebrity Chef List (Be Prepared To Cry)
- Gnocchi alla Romana (Roman Gnocchi)