I miss Paris, but lately, I’ve been feeling pretty lucky to have not come down with gluten issues while there. I found this gem at Trader Joe’s while elbowing West Hartfordites for the last litre of coconut water and bitching about the price of Udi’s. Popcorn isn’t my favorite snack, but I do love the flavors it can come in. What is it about popcorn that makes manufacturers so adventurous? Frito-Lay, where’s my brown butter and lemon potato chips? My pumpkin seed and caramel pretzels? This popcorn made me squeal, then go through the seven stages of grief at a distinctly rapid pace as I checked for the gluten-free label. Luckily, it’s safe to eat, so I grabbed a bag and ran home.
On a whole, I’m more inclined to buy bagged popcorn than I am to make it myself. It’s less greasy, has better toppings, and there are none of those terrifying unpopped kernels. Trader Joe’s makes a reliably good popcorn- super creamy, with a crispy, fresh crunch. The idea of brown butter powder intrigued me, and when combined with lemon, thyme, and other herbs, it sounded pretty magical. The popcorn is plentiful, very francophilian, but is somewhat of a kvetch-22. It has lots of tasty flavor powder, but that powder does make it much messier.
The brown butter flavor is nuanced- the lemon is surprisingly strong and fresh, followed closely by the thyme. Both give a bit of a sweet, epicurean edge to such a typically savory snack. Unfortunately, the brown butter isn’t as noticeable as one might expect or desire. Crunched quickly, the lemon is the primary discernible flavor, leaving the butter behind in a gently nutty, toasted finish. This ends up tasting somewhat redundant as popcorn already has that flavor. I’d have liked to have a better balance of sour and savory, perhaps with some sea salt flakes or less lemon. Tasty, but not as distinct as I’d anticipated.