National Tortilla Chip Day

  • Posted by: Tomato Head, Market Square Manager • February 24th, 2016

Although many people celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day with big bowls of yellow or white chips, we like to pause on this auspicious day and ponder the chip less taken; the blue tortilla chip.

My own journey away from the yellow and white chips of my errant youth began in my mid 20’s during a visit to Santa Fe. It was the first time that I had eaten blue food. Of course, I don’t count the many bowls of strangely colored cereal, including Boo-Berry, of my childhood – in retrospect I’m not sure that they qualify as real food, though, in fairness, I loved them. But during that New Mexican fall, when an afternoon cocktail demanded salty afternoon snacks, my traveling partners and I encountered a basket of strangely hued, corn tortilla chips for the first time and learned the reason for this oddity; it was blue corn that did it.

I recall that, unlike my compatriots, I wasn’t surprised by the idea of blue corn because my dad had once planted flint corn, a multi-colored variety which he knew as Indian corn. Even so, the blue triangles prompted a lot of conversation about the merits of corn chips themselves, and, if I recall correctly, we concluded that a blue chip was heartier than a yellow one and that we liked them, especially after a couple more of those afternoon cocktails.

Blue Corn itself is a fascinating vegetable that has more protein than yellow or white corn and has a lower glycemic index. The color comes from anthocyanins – the same flavonoid and anti-oxidant that makes red wine red and blueberries blue, too. Though, to be fair, by the time a blue corn kernel becomes a blue corn chip, it may not have all the qualities that have made anthocyanin a nutritional darling in recent years. But who eats tortilla chips for their anti-oxidant qualities anyway?

Blue corn is in fact a variety of flint corn all of which share a thicker exterior than its yellow and white cousins. That thickness can make it a little harder to grind, and contributes to the textural difference in the resulting chips. And, according to some tasters, the flavor of blue corn has a nuttier quality than paler varieties.

So, despite being under the influence of Santa Fe’s beauty and booze, we weren’t completely off our noggins to conclude that blue corn chips, color aside, seemed somehow different than what we normally munched while swilling tequila. Admittedly, I haven’t reached this conclusion via the scientific method and exhaustive taste tests, but most of the blue corn chips I’ve met, even without a margarita, have more heft and a heartier crunch than the average yellow crisp.

That’s certainly true of the Garden of Eatin’ blue chips we serve at the restaurants. Made from organic blue corn, they have a hint of nuttiness and pack a wallop of crunch that’s perfect with a scoop of hummus. As you celebrate National Tortilla Day in your varied and personal ways, consider joining us in making the party a big blue crunchy one. You may just gain a new perspective on tortilla texture and find, as we have done, on a day like today where crunchy happiness is paramount, that blue has made all the difference.

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design