Saturday, April 14, 2018

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Two Snacks From El Salvador, and a Salvadoran-Inspired Drink

     This topic is a first for me--I don't think I've ever had any food or beverages from the Central American country of El Salvador.  I picked them up in a Shop-Rite supermarket in Rio Grande, NJ, which is near the Atlantic Ocean, and several South Jersey shore resort towns, like Wildwood and Cape May.  I wasn't aware that this area has an unusually high percentage of people with Salvadoran heritage, but, for whatever reason, the grocery stocks them.  So I took advantage.  I was able to find two kinds of corn chips (or "crisps" for some European readers) from the Diana company, and a Salvadoran-inspired soft drink from the Panamerican company out of New Jersey once again.
     Productos Alimenticios Diana is moderately old for a New World food company, as it was started in 1951, by Max Olano and Pablo Tesak.  The company blossomed enough that by 1957 their products were sold across El Salvador, and by 1958 they were exported to the nation's neighbors of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, and Guatemala.  By 1978 they'd started exporting to the U.S.  In addition to salty snacks, the company also makes candy, cookies, and ice cream cones.  The distribution company, Costa Del Sol, out of Florida in the U.S. is much more recent, since they've been around only since 2001.
     Normally I'd now give a brief overview about Panamerican Foods, but when I looked it up the company website had a notation saying it was hacked.  So I didn't consult it, figuring that the information might be fake, and/or be infested with nasty computer viruses or something.  The soda I tried, called kolashanpan, is a popular style in El Salvador, and it's supposed to have the flavors of cola and champagne, as the name suggests.  So my American-made soft drink wasn't authentic, but it was close enough to include in this post.  It's rather similar to my post about Brazilian drinks, which included a Brazilian-inspired, but not made drink (see November 21, 2017 post).  I did consult a couple of websites devoted to beverage reviews--Weird Soda Review, and, which I'll have to remember for future viewings.  I was especially amused that on the latter site, in the included video, the reviewer carefully spat out the soda into a bucket-like container after tasting it, as if he was a stereotypical wine snob!
     But anyway, here's what I thought:

1) Diana jalapenos corn tortilla chips:   These were yellow triangles, about 4 cm. (about 1.5 inches) tip to base.  They were good.  Similar to Doritos or other tortilla chips.  Had a slightly different corn taste, I thought.  Some spice, but not overpowering.

2) Diana nachos tortilla chips:  These chips were hexagonal in shape, about 4 cm. (about 1.5 inches) across.  These were disappointing.  Not spicy, either.  They tasted stale.  And there was an excellent reason for this--they were.  I didn't notice the "Use by" date, which was nearly a month past.  So to be fair I guess this isn't a good test, since they clearly weren't fresh.

3) Panamerican La Cascada kolashanpan soft drink:  This came in a 2 liter plastic bottle, and was orange colored.  Strange flavor--kind of a weak cola/orange-y.  Hard to describe.  Not bad, but not that special, either.  Pretty mediocre across the board.  The websites I looked at mentioned that they detected a bubble gum-ish flavor, which I didn't really get myself. However, over the next several days, as I finished the bottle, it kind of grew on me, a bit, as sometimes happens.  But still kind of "meh" or goodish at best.

     In conclusion then, I liked one, found one to be average, and didn't like one, although the last was admittedly out of date.  I would buy the chips again, and I'll especially try to find fresh Diana nacho tortilla chips, to give them a proper tryout.
    Just to flesh this out, I'll end with some basic info about El Salvador.  This country, whose name means "The Savior," is the smallest in land area of the Central American nations, yet has the most dense population.  It's afflicted by frequent earthquakes, and unfortunately numerous volcanic eruptions, from some of its over 20 volcanoes.  Famous folks with Salvadoran heritage include actor Efren Ramirez, probably best known for playing "Pedro" in "Napoleon Dynamite" (2004), and who also appeared in such cheesy but fun movies like "Tammy and the T-Rex" (1994) and "Crank: High Voltage" (2009).  Moving to music, Pete Sandoval drummed for the death metal band Morbid Angel for many years.  Model/charity activist Christy Turlington is half Salvadoran, too.  Rosemary Casals was a great tennis player in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's, winning 112 pro double tournaments, second only to Martina Navratilova.  Among these wins were 9 Grand Slam doubles titles, and 3 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.  She was elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996.  She also was a big campaigner for allowing pro players to compete in formerly amateur-only tournaments, as well as demanding equal pay for women players.  Finally, another famous person from this nation was poet/journalist/activist Roque Dalton.

     Also, as a writing update, I just recently received the edits and signed the contract for my story in the anthology "Hidden Menagerie" (nee "Hidden Animals"), which I've been mentioning over the past 9 or 10 months.  It appears that we're on track for the May release date.  More information to follow as I learn it.


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