Manomasa Manchego and Green Olive Tortillas

‘In describing themselves as ‘king of the tapas table’, the Manomasas are angling for a place at the table. Are they welcome there?’

Let’s be honest: very few crisps are welcome at the dinner table. Those admitted (tortilla chips; crisps astride a thick-cut pub sandwich; the occasional ready salted crisp with lunch) are characteristically servile, civil and plain. They are workhorses, willing to accept a lowly position in the food hierarchy; content to play a supporting role to the main fare. For a place at the dinner table is a chance at social mobility. Like the deprived but ambitious protagonist of the rags to riches novel —your Jane Eyre, your Pamela, your Ugwu in Half of a Yellow Sun— they pursue a better life by working as a live-in assistant to the wealthy. In describing themselves as ‘king of the tapas table’, the Manomasas are angling for a place at the table. Are they welcome there?

The Ventrilocrisp (if it may be candid) was ready to gun these crisps down. The price, for one, was prohibitive (luckily it found a deal) whilst the Manchego and Olive flavouring seemed a cheap shot at bourgeoisie.  A posh crisp like this one, the Ventrilocrisp speculated miserably, would be stingy on the flavouring – no matter how much they bang on about it on the packet. And yet. These puppies have a strong, assertive flavour, and a big personality to match. O cruel misapprehension! This is full-on, unabashed cheesiness – nothing civil about it. It’s certainly not identifiable as Manchego, bearing the saltier, more aggressive marks of a (no offence) cheaper and more processed cheese. Whilst the red pepper adds a tasty sweetness, the olive, unfortunately, was a no-show (God rest its soul). The crisp, ultimately, was ruder than imagined: full-bodied, potent and —the Ventrilocrisp will admit it—delicious. Bravo.

The ‘sturdy’ crisp is sold as being ‘good to grip and built to dip’. Structurally, yes, these crisps are up to heavy lifting. But do they live to serve? No. These virile, enthusiastic ‘tortillas with spirit’ have a lot to say for themselves (mark the number of adjectives on the bag) and they have dreams as big as their flavour. They don’t just aspire to attend the meal: they want to become it. And unfortunately, in the world of dinner table crisps, that’s not how it works. The question is: do they change their dream, or do they change the world?

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