(Vegetarian) Chicharon Anyone?

Light, crunchy, flavorful, addicting! I'm talking about my snack of the hour -- Marty's Cracklin' vegetarian chicharon.

Allow me a short intermission from my Tagaytay album series. For today, I thought I'd let you in on what I've been munching on lately, in between meals, errands and chores. Yes, this is junk food. But can we not indulge in such guilty pleasures once in a while? (",)  Wait, let me back-track...look, it said "Guilt-Free" on the label.

Chicharon -- pork rind crackling, can be considered a Filipino delicacy, which was made popular in the province of Cebu.  It is best eaten with a vinegar dip. Very addicting and artery-clogging! With Marty's Cracklin', manufactured by Oishi, it claims to be vegetarian, "old-fashioned style", "guilt-free", and with zero trans fat. Made from dehydrated green peas, vegetable oil, tapioca starch, dehydrated potatoes, salt, spices, and other flavorings, it comes in Plain Salted and Salt & Vinegar flavors.
I discovered Marty's a few months back at the supermarket, at less than P20 for the 90g bag, and it is now a regular in our snack cabinet. It also comes in a 26g snack pack. I've tried both flavors at different times and savored every piece, every bite, down to the crumbs stuck on the inside of the foil pouch. The color and flavor can pass for an authentic all-rind crispy chicharon. But the texture and bite of Marty's is finer, whereas the real one is a little more rough and tends to stick to your teeth and gums as you chew. The shape is also obviously different as the real thing comes in irregular curly shapes and cuts as compared with this uniformly molded copy-cat. The verdict? 2 thumbs up!

I would still consider Marty's Crackling a worthy alternative to the real thing. And I do share a few bites with the kids from time to time, although I can eat the whole bag on my own.  But if luck is on your side, and you can get a hold of a few pouches of Chicharritos, then you may have just hit the jackpot.

Chicharritos IS the real thing. Made with real imported pork rind, manufactured and packed by a company in Cebu, this is the first chicharon brand I know of that is foil-packed, with limited distribution in select stores. It's been a long time since my last Chicharritos as I rarely find it in my regular supermarket visits. I believe they still have a free-standing cart at Shangri-la Plaza mall where I bought my first pack some years back. I missed it. Then just recently, my mother gave me a pack, yay!!!  She bought it at P35, or 3 packs for P100, for a 35 gram pack from a food stall in Unimart (supermarket). This is more expensive than your ordinary chips in a bag, but it is super crispy, without the sometimes hard bits of meat still hanging on the rind. And with just the right amount of salt and flavor, it is pure all-rind goodness!

There is no comparison between Chicharritos and Marty's. It's like comparing apples from oranges. If you crave for the real pork rind crunch, Chicharritos is my bet. For a more "wholesome" alternative, try Marty's.

I'm not yet on the healthy wagon, so any "junk food" discoveries you care to share are still welcome here (",)