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How The French Do Potato Chips

They aren't exactly like American potato chips, but they sure are something.

French cuisine still rules the world. Its influence on just about every aspect of modern dining is indelible, but one thing French culture could stand to improve upon is its potato chips.

France has a pretty impeccable snack game, but the products with the widest fandom tend to be the sweet treats. Petit Beurre biscuits, made by French manufacturer LU, are ubiquitous in France, and they succeed because they're so damn buttery and simple. Bonne Maman, famous here in America for its jams and spreads, is owned by the company Andros, which makes its home in Biars-sur-Cère in Southwestern France. (More commonly in France, you can find Bonne Maman's beloved raspberry tart cookies.) France boasts dozens of sweet biscuits, cookies, and tarts at every grocery shop, but compared to American brands, there's a dearth of salty processed snacks.

Part of the reason for this is that savory snacks in the French diet often involve cheese, peanuts, sausage, and the like. There are relatively few potato chips in France, but there are indeed a few. Belin is a company that features savory snacks with an American slant, from cheese curls to baked cheese crisps, and even something that looks like a tortilla chip but is in fact a cracker. Per Belin's (translated) copy, "Enjoy it alongside your favourite beverage, or as an accompaniment to your meals. Whether you're planning a get-together with friends, packing a picnic, or simply indulging in some alone time, this selection is sure to bring a touch of French indulgence to your day."

Belin also famously makes a line of potato chips called Chipster, which you can purchase on Amazon. I found a box at my local French café, Loupiotte. This outstanding French restaurant in LA serves awesome breakfast and lunch, but it also shines a nostalgic light on French snacks with a whole cupboard full of biscuits, cereals, sweets, and the aforementioned Belin Chipsters, whose website copy promises, "These perfectly golden potato chips are a masterpiece of taste and texture, delivering a satisfyingly crispy bite with each mouthful."

On my last visit to the restaurant, I grabbed a box to find out how France's chips stack up to our own.

What do Belin Chipster potato chips taste like?

For starters, these are not at all like American potato chips, or really any potato chip you've had before. These are potato chips reimagined. The imagery on the box might have you thinking these are the size of regular potato chips, but oh, no, no, no. This is like a box of cereal, and the size of each "chip" reflects that.

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Apparently, Chipsters are also called "salty petals" in France. Leave it to the French to find a more romantic and eloquent way to describe potato chips. Chipsters have a very light texture, with a puffy, crunchy consistency that almost reminds me of Corn Pops. Again, I can't escape the cereal aesthetic here. You could absolutely fill a bowl with 30 or 40 of these puffy little potato crisps.

Each bite is buttery and salty, but also surprisingly processed. Checking the ingredients label, Chipsters list potato flakes, starch, palm oil, salt, rosemary extract, and turmeric. Quality potato chips these are not. They taste a lot like Munchos, actually, which are also made with dehydrated potatoes. Both are a far cry from an authentic potato chip like Grandma Utz or Herr's. I know many commenters out there who would not even consider a chip made with potato flakes to be a potato chip at all.

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Though the texture is wonderful, these unfortunately lack a strong potato flavor. Well-made potato chips should taste a lot like potatoes, and it's confounding that the French would ever make this misstep. This is a country, after all, where frites are eaten regularly, where potatoes are rightfully thrust into the spotlight and treated with care and respect. For all that culinary prowess, France could stand to do a better job with these savory potato chip snacks. In that department, America is still #1.

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