Alex Woodward wrote a nice tribute (below) to Ron Zappe, creator of Zapp's chips, who died today. Everyone had a favorite flavor (mine was the limited-edition "Bee-Licious Honey Mustard"), but I had one of those transcendental post-Katrina moments over, of all things, Zapp's.
I was in Portland, Ore., and missing New Orleans something fierce one night when I met up with a friend for dinner -- a Portlander whose family was from Louisiana (last name: Boudreaux). We ended up going to one of Portland's many good taprooms. Though that city has many virtues, good restaurant service is not among them, but we had a very nice server who was both competent and warm in that distinctly New Orleanian way.
When she delivered my sandwich, she asked if there was anything else I wanted, and I told her, "May I have some pickle chips, please?"
"Pickle chips?" She looked puzzled. "We don't have those."
A restaurant that didn't have pickle chips? "You don't have slices of dill pickle for my sandwich?" I asked.
"Oh! Sure!" she said, turning away. And then I thought I heard her say: "I thought you meant Zapp's."
"Are you from New Orleans?" I said.
I wish I could remember her name. More than that, I hope she did come home. But it was an evening that made an indelible impression on me; 2000 miles from home, two strangers bonded, however briefly, over a random mention of Zapp's Cajun Dill Pickle chips.
So long, Ron Zappe -- and thanks for all the chips.