Recently, TATTGOC has been putting a considerable amount of effort into sourcing free curry-related products. For who better to be a spicy focus group than the Curry Lovers Of The Year 2010? That's the thinking behind Tastin' With The Tramps, a taste test with a difference in that ... in that ... actually, it's pretty much what you would expect from a standard taste test. So what's on the menu this time? It's a three-way curry crisp-off, pitting ridged heavyweight McCoy’s against resurgent veteran Golden Wonder. Let's go tastin' with The Tramps (and friends)!
The Products: In the blue corner! McCoy’s Limited Edition Lamb Vindaloo and Chicken Jalfrezi flavours. In the red corner! Golden Wonder Limited Edition Chip Shop Curry (a possible relative to The Nation's Noodle Chip Shop Curry).
The Pitch: As any overstretched journalist constantly forced to write “bogus trend” pieces will tell you, three really is the magic number. If you can find a trio of new products, examples or just anecdotes, you can justify writing any old rubbish. Which brings us, neatly, to curry crisps. A reasonably high-profile McCoy’s 2-for-1 curry promotion has thrust two limited edition spicy flavour varieties onto the shelves of newsagents and garage forecourt shops nationwide, valuable retail space that had already been colonised by a limited edition spicy flavour variety of Golden Wonder, already six months into a major marketing push north of the border (apparently they are “Full-On Flavour Crisps”). The perfect time, then, for a crisp-related spicy smackdown, with a little help from some passing TATTGOC regulars.
The Packaging: For their double-act of super-spicy crisps, McCoy’s have gone for bright, eye-popping colours and fairly obvious cultural signifiers: the Taj Mahal and elephants feature in striking silhouette. A lot of packet real estate is also given over to promoting their “2 Curries For The Price Of 1” offer (there are around 25 participating restaurants in Glasgow, which makes it seem like a pretty good deal, even if the matey-ish tone of the website gets a little wearing).
The Golden Wonder pack is a bit more restrained, although there’s a nice flock wallpaper effect going on. Mysteriously, there's also an STV logo displayed prominently on the front of the pack – this flavour was apparently “voted for by fans of STV” but there’s no real explanation of how it all came about. (A quick Google search reveals that STV viewers were encouraged to vote for their favourite flavour back in March, with ex-Miss Scotland Lois Weatherup, pictured above, backing the winner.)
The Process: If the last Tastin’ With The Tramps was pretty straighforward – just add hot water and wait – this one was even simpler: simply open some crisp packets and put the contents in a few bowls. This did not stop The Tramp from creating some excellent labels so the additional taste test participants – Ravi Peshwari, Rumpole Of The Balti and The Bulldosa – would be able to easily tell which crisp was what. So, after some deliberation and cogitation, what did the assembled Curry Clubbers think?
Ravi Peshwari says: I would have to say the Golden Wonder is a bit of non-runner. I'm digging the McCoy's ridge cut attempt, though. It appears to have really captured the lamb-ishness. Too much McCoy's might be a bit sickly. Both McCoy's flavours are pretty solid but I would probably choose the lamb flavour. And these crisps widnae taste half as good if it wasn't for the Kingfisher ...
Rumpole Of The Balti says: The Golden Wonder flavour is just too bland – too flimsy and flyaway when compared to the McCoy's. The lamb is actually a bit too lamb-y for me. At first, I was like "mmmm". But now I'm like "hmmmm". I would like to know the industrial process that transfers the flavour of lambiness to the disc of potato. It would be quite good to get a thin flatbread, spread it with hummus and then put those lamb crisps on and fold it. But I think I'd rate the Chicken Jalfrezi as my favourite.
The Bulldosa says: For a start, we should be having these crisps with curry sauce. I want the record to show that. I also think the other guys are right, the Golden Wonder flavour is a bit bland but anecdotally I think that's true of most Golden Wonder crisps. Of the McCoy's, probably the lamb one is the best. The signs that The Tramp made are nice but it would be useful to see the packet as well so when I'm half-cut at half four in the morning I know what I should be lunging for in the shop.
Trampy says: I have actually tried the McCoys’ before on a recent long drive to London and I was impressed that they did really taste like curry – so if I was in the shop I’d choose them over the Golden Wonder crisps, although I’m intrigued by the STV endorsement. I would probably favour the Chicken Jalfrezi over the Lamb Vindaloo, as the lamb crisps taste a bit too convincingly lamb-like for my taste. I prefer fantasy curry flavours untethered by reality.
The Tramp says: I also have tried the McCoy's before on that same journey to London and I was very impressed by their exceptional curriness. I thing strong taste is definitely in its favour, so I would go for the lamb. The Golden Wonder seem thin and poorly flavoured in comparison.
The Verdict: The feeble Golden Wonder got a bit of a duffing-up by the hearty McCoy's, although the pungent quality of the lamb appeared to repel as many Curry Clubbers as it attracted – or at least almost as many, since three of the five judges favoured the vindaloo. So the winner, by TKO, is Lamb Vindaloo. Well done McCoy's! Now send us a box of 'em!
(Incidentally, these five grown men didn't assemble just to eat crisps – following the successful taste test, the first ever TATTGOC poker night got off to a tentative start. Who won? Ravi Peshwari, by some considerable margin.)
Do you have a curry-related foodstuff you're launching into the crowded modern marketplace where a recommendation from appropriate enthusiasts might help? If so, drop us an introductory line at firstname.lastname@example.org and see YOUR product featured on ... Tastin' With The Tramps!
The Nation's Noodle!
Mr Singh's Bangras!