Smiths Scampi Flavour Fries

‘Here is an unpretentious crisp that understands the meaning of hard graft.’

Last week, the Ventrilocrisp went camping. Between carting the water butt on its naked back and monitoring the butane canister, the Ventrilocrisp’s nose was never far from the grindstone. It rained relentlessly, shattering its dreams of recreating the great tan of 2018 but bolstering its healthy work ethic. As luck may have it, the Ventrilocrisp learned something of scampi’s murky history, settling a debate about whether it was langoustine (correct) or monkfish (incorrect: monkfish tail had fraudulently been sold as scampi, contravening the great Fish Labelling Amendment of 2005). Now, reader, for the Fries.

Attracted to the sparse, simple pleasures of the nautical cabin pictured on the packet, the Ventrilocrisp thought: here is an unpretentious crisp that understands the meaning of hard graft. Like Nik Naks, these crisps do not aspire to mass appeal. In their refusal to conform —fusty Times New Roman font, non-standard packet size, polarising flavours— the crisps reveal their cantankerous character, unbending to the seas of change.

An unpleasant, fishy smell erupts from the bag on opening, revealing a set of oily, rust-coloured pillows (hollow like Shreddies). The crisp tastes overwhelmingly of batter: the cereal texture and crumbed surface are bready, the oily flavour ripe with the marks of the deep fat fryer. Salt is crystalized on the surface, accompanied by a dubious but ultimately pleasing fishy taste. There is a cleansing lemony tang, a heavenly ablution from the generous oil (which thickened the Ventrilocrisp’s saliva, turning it to treacle in its throat).

The Fries tread an impossibly fine line between acceptability and offensiveness. The result is a unique and delicious snack, its wacky flavours tantalising. Nevertheless, its consumption remains couched in shame; destined to a life below deck. This was compounded by the meagre 27g packet (part of a multi-pack), forcing the Ventrilocrisp to grasp ham-fistedly at the greasy parcels like an ogre at a child’s tea party.

The Scampi Fries have inherited the suspect qualities of scampi itself. For enjoyed guiltily, we refuse to look the crisp in the eye, too afraid of the darkness we might find there.

  • repurchase? ☑️
  • recommend to a friend? ☑️
  • eat this crisp in public? ❎
  • consider the price to be right? ☑️
  • need to wash hands after consumption? ☑️

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