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We Should Be Making Potato Chips More Like Spain

Fancy Spanish olive-oil-fried potato chips are great, but do they pair well with a sandwich?

Here's a question: Do potato chips need any sort of upgrade? Aren't we good with our own coterie of regional yet nationally available chips like Herr's, Utz, Wise, and Tim's? Normally I'd say we're all set in that department. Yet after tasting Torres extra virgin olive oil potato chips, I'm convinced there's plenty of room for more experimentation, expansion, and elevation in this realm.

Torres, a Spainish import, is one of a couple brands of Spanish potato chips available for U.S. purchase. Back in 2013, decorated and energetic Spanish chef José Andrés made a line of his potato chips available in America, too. Both the Torres and José Andrés chips come in poofy white bags, and each contains only three ingredients: potatoes, olive oil, and salt. Both varieties feature thin-sliced potatoes slow-fried in olive oil to ensure great crunch and flavor.

The Andrés chips—of which there's currently a shortage, though you can find them in bulk on Amazon—are made by San Nicasio at a factory in a small town in Southern Spain. "Chipmaster" Rafael de Rosal uses Spanish Agria potatoes, a dark yellow variety that's allegedly amazing for frying. It's a relatively new variety of potato, too, having been developed in 1986 specifically for French fries. They're smooth with a consistent oval shape, making them easy to peel.

These Agria potatoes seem to be the impetus for José Andrés' luxurious chips. Torres, meanwhile, touts its use of potatoes from the Iberian Peninsula. Man, the Spanish really care about their potato chips a whole heck of a lot. But do premium potatoes, olive oil frying, and minimal ingredients add up to an unbeatable product? I tasted them to find out.

Tasting Torres extra virgin olive oil potato chips

The first thing you'll notice is just how god damn golden these chips are. They're fried slowly and beautifully in olive oil, yes, but I think the potato itself just has a starker flesh to begin with—these things look like the dang sun. And even though they're fried slowly like a kettle chip, they don't take on the weight of that crunchy variety. You know how Kettle chips absolutely destroy the roof of your mouth like shards of glass? That doesn't happen here. Torres chips are feather-light and crispy, and they taste of only potato, salt, and olive oil.


That olive oil does the heavy lifting here. It makes a ton of sense to slow-fry potato chips in olive oil, especially since it has a relatively low smoke point; it's not an oil meant for hard frying food. Nurturing the chips along slowly in olive oil infuses them with all that rich, fatty flavor that explodes in every bite.

But are these fancy Spanish chips fit to pair with a sandwich like their run-of-the-mill counterparts? I'm not so sure.

You're likely to run into Torres chips at an overpriced sandwich shop or gourmet market where, yes, they will definitely pair well with an artisanal lunch like the $22 roast beef sandwich at Lorenzo in Beverly Hills. Still, I think these are charcuterie board chips through and through. Spread them out with a bunch of quality meat, cheese, and the like. They're potato chips you open up alongside a bottle of wine.


In fact, these are chips that I could see pairing with a steak. A tender, meaty, fatty ribeye with a handful of crispy, olive oil blasted chips? Sounds like the height of luxury. A three pack on Amazon costs $18, which isn't too bad. Just don't pack them for lunch with a bologna sandwich.

The world could use more thoughtfully prepared olive-oil-fried potato chips made from select potatoes. José Andrés demands better from his junk food, and I think we should too.