I should have brought earplugs

I was up early this morning to write a newsletter. I heard the intermittent sound of firecrackers out the window while I was writing. After I finished writing, I decided to go for a run before the midday heat.

It being the eve of Chinese New Year, there is a celebratory mood in this small town. I made one lap around the park, went out to the main road, turned right, and hadn’t passed many houses before I saw a roasted pig on a table, with sundry other dishes, and a happy family gathered round to enjoy a holiday meal.

I also smelled gunpowder.

And heard firecrackers.

And saw smoke.

And ran through red papers and other wrappers and smoldering debris from recently exploded firecrackers. Fortunately, I got through my run without any incident, only once having to swerve into the middle of what fortunately was an empty road to avoid the firecrackers going off at the end of an outstretched pole just as I passed. On multiple occasions during the run, I thought to myself, I should have brought earplugs.

There are a couple notable new flavors of Lays potato chips on the shelves. Are these new flavors here for Chinese New Year? I guess so, but I’m not sure. Here’s how I rate them, if you are looking for a seasonal snack.

The Hong Kong style dumpling is one I would try once. Dumplings I like, what with the taste, the texture, the temperature, the dipping sauce—there is some substance to them, some complexity. But those are dumplings. These are potato chips. They have a small part of the taste of dumplings, if one carefully checks the packaging before eating them. “Ok, there’s some dumpling, yes, I get it.” If I only enjoyed dumplings for the taste, then that would be enough, and these would be a chip I’d try more than once. Realizing that my appreciation of and affection for dumplings goes beyond only the taste, and then finding these have the texture of a potato chip, are served at room temperature, and require no dipping sauce, I knew that this flavor was not for me.

Then there was the seafood XO sauce. Surprisingly good. I haven’t had this one again, but it’s the kind of flavor that I could have more than once. There have been so many squid flavors lately (I know, I haven’t been writing about potato chips, and for good reason, and will explain in due time) that I was expecting very little when I saw the packaging. But then I tasted these, found a rich umami flavor, and a pleasant amount of spice, and thought that I’ll have fond memories of this flavor.

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