Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seaweed Shaker Fries: A delicious chemical creation

By Mark

The magical ingredient
McDonalds' Seaweed Shaker Fries are back, and oh how I've missed them! I'm definitely not alone in missing this incredible work of chemical engineering from McDonald's though; practically everyone I know is lavishing over their return. Yes, I'm well aware that this item probably involved more processes and chemical equations than I've seen in my life, and complicated, sterile, laboratory-ish equipment belonging in some faraway production plant before being shipped over here. Yes, it's fast food made by the biggest, richest, most evil fast food chain in the world. But credit should be given where it's due, and the Seaweed Shaker Fries tastes wonderful, to say the least.

Quality and taste:
Seaweed Shaker Fries may look like nothing particularly special. In fact, it appears downright plain and simplistic, with just a box of large McDonald's French Fries with a packet of seaweed seasoning which you're supposed to mix together using a vigorous arm motion that always manages to look somewhat inappropriate no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Sometimes though, it's the simple things in life that are the most enjoyable (and by which I'm not referring to the aforementioned action). Seaweed Shaker Fries falls right smack into this category, with its combination of two rather basic but very complementary ingredients.

There's always a limit on how much one can express sensations using mere words, no matter how extensive his vocabulary may be. French fries by nature are salty, the combination of fried potatoes and salt which for the most part, is enough to satisfy my tastebuds. The addition of the seaweed seasoning however, adds another layer to the hitherto uni-dimensional fries, introducing a hint of seaweed, an almost sweet taste and maybe a bit of MSG. The seasoned fry's taste isn't very strong, and doesn't try to overwhelm you. But it does taste quite natural, as if fries were meant to be seasoned with artificially-manufactured seaweed powder from the outset.

In terms of the sheer amount of flavour added, this doesn't add much; dipping a fry in chilli sauce would add more. But my goodness, the introduction of this tiny bit of seasoning brings the humble, processed McDonald's fry to a whole new level altogether.

The taste of the seasoned fry reminds me of a flavoured potato chip. Where the Seaweed Shaker Fries trumps the normal potato chip though, is its texture -the traditional and much-loved crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside trademark of McDonald's. Its familiar texture notwithstanding, I reckon these fries could even be eaten soggy and still taste great.

You know that a food is brilliant (and of course, too little) when you find yourself licking every finger and lip, and tracing your fingers over its container to get just a bit more of that awesome taste. Needless to say, Seaweed Shaker Fries suffers from this problem of brilliance amidst scarcity. At $2.85 by itself, it's also relatively expensive -a bag of comparable potato chips would cost around the same price and would feed more metaphorical starving children in some Third World nation. As part of an Extra Value Meal, it does become more value-for-money, although the very concept of value is debatable and probably stretched by a fair amount when it involves two slices of bread, one slice of dry, genetically-modified meat, an undersized bag of fries and a cup of watered-down, sugary beverage consisting mainly of ice.

The Seaweed Shaker Fries may not be the freshest or most sophisticated of foods, but it's certainly an enjoyable treat that's hard to come around due to its seasonal availability. It is less bang for buck when bought by itself as compared to an Extra Value Meal, but then again, bear in mind that that's precisely what McDonald's wants its customers to think, and by following this line of thinking, we'd be buying straight into its marketing ploy. This notwithstanding, do give Seaweed Shaker Fries a try (whether by itself or as part of a meal) before it's gone!

Have you eaten this before? What was your experience like? We're interested -do share with us in the comments below!

Quality, Taste and Presentation (80%)
A must-try item for everyone
Value (20%)
Too expensive considering the increasingly diminishing serving size
Ambience & others (0%)
Is there really anything to say about a McDonald's?
An overpriced indulgence not meant for regular consumption

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