On Friday, I had a dire, extreme craving for the Alibaba Paaper Bites of my youth. The irregularly shaped, thick bits of samoosa pastry deep fried in oil, smothered in flavour and packaged into foil packets.
I drove my husband crazy, making him drive around the Northern suburbs looking for some. I found some at N1 City yesterday afternoon, but only me second favourite flavour: Bombay Chilli. I also bought Salted and Cheese & Onion just to have a standby until I could locate my ultimate: Secret Flavour. I found it this morning in the tuckshop next to my workplace.
The problem, of course, which affects Paaper Bites and most other snack products today, is that over the years, the recipes have been tweaked and pruned until the snack bears only a passing resemblance to what it once was. Yes, many of the changes made to Paaper Bites are good – virtually no oil residue, smaller and regular shaped pieces, and just enough flavour.
I am not eating Paaper Bites because I want a healthy snack. I eat Paaper Bites because they are terrible for you, but taste so good. I could buy one packet and and get lost in it. Now, I settle for this watered-down version.
My husband has offered to make them from scratch, which he could easily do, and the results will be delicious, no doubt. Yet Alibaba Paaper Bites takes me back to primary school, to a simpler time when I had to stand on tiptoes to reach the counter of the tuck shop to point out the flavour I wanted. Now that I know I have a source literally metres away from me…