I don’t know what flavour these crisps are.
The packet says that they’re Mexicana flavour, which tells me fuck all. Can you imagine an Australian flavour crisp? (Kangaroo pie, obviously.) Or a British flavour crisp? (Moustaches soaked in tea.) Or a French flavour crisp? (Brie eaten whilst running away.)
Anyway. The flavour of Mexico, according to these Doritos, is… onion, I think? Garlic. Some sort of spice. Cumin is definitely involved. I bought them because a) they were on special offer and b) I thought they might be the same as the spicy Chilli Heatwave flavour in the UK. I used to eat those at my desk job and drink two espresso coffees out of the same cup and the combined rush of chilli and caffeine would blot out the reality of how grim a call centre job in a poorly-managed pensions company was for anything up to seven minutes.
These are not they. These stain my mouth like red ink stains a white shirt. Nothing tastes like this.
I started eating them on the walk home yesterday, and that’s not an attractive look for a man: unshaven, wearing a woman’s green coat he bought because he mistakenly thought it looked good on him but it’s raining and it’s the only waterproof item of clothing he owns, jamming Doritos in his mouth out of a shopping bag while he waits for the traffic lights to change. You can’t imagine James Bond doing that.
I started eating them, and I did not stop. I have eaten almost the entirety of a large bag as I sit and write this the following morning. I was writing, and I would occasionally stand up and walk over to the cupboard where we keep the crisps, and unfold the packet, and jam a handful of them in my mouth, and all the time I’m thinking “What even ARE these, what is this UNFOOD, how can I fit MORE into my mouth at once.”
There’s something addictive about the way that corn chips mash up at the back of your mouth; I think, compared to basic crisps, they were always something of a treat when I was growing up, so I still view them as some kind of delicacy – but the kind of delicacy that I can now easily afford, so I buy far too many of them and stuff them in my mouth like a French Aristocrat at an all-you-can-eat caviar buffet.
But – that crunch, that taste as they mush their way down into the corn paste. You get it with nuts, too; an impossibly satisfying mouthfeel, a consistency that’s retained after chewing, unlike that of crisps, which quickly become pappy, greasy, thin – corn chips return to their base state of cornmeal, but upgraded cornmeal with salt and flavouring.
Oh, right, the flavouring.
I couldn’t shift it. I ate other things to cover it up. I brushed my teeth. No luck. My wife was about to return home, and I figured she’d ask what the hell it was when I kissed her. (Luckily, she had contracted a cold, and could not smell. I now have that cold. It has feverish elements. I think that might be why I’ve written so many words about what are, fundamentally, crisps that I cannot understand.)
But the taste remained. This morning, even, the taste remained. It’s like I’ve bitten down entirely into a raw onion and not let go. It is staining me, possibly forever. I want it to go away.
(I have eaten more of them. It will not go away.)
So, what flavour are these crisps? I still do not know. They are Enduring Flavour. They Remain. They are the Ghost of Chili; they haunt my mouth.
Oh God, I am eating more of them as I write, under the pretence of a review. There will be no review, other than what you have already read. There is only one way this will end – I will finish the packet, indeed the bag is now reduced to shard and crumb, and I have hit the tipping point where there is no reason to return the bag to the cupboard for there are only three, maybe four mouthfuls left – and who would want to find such a sad packet – so I will eat all of them, now, and end this.
But this will not end until I am free of them, until my mouth is once again pure, and who knows how long that will be? Years? Maybe I will need to kiss a priest. I will go to the Cathedral, and report back.