A Trek Into the Supermarket Freezer Case

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Now you don't have to go to a fancy restaurant to get gourmet sliders.


It started innocently enough. I was in an odd food mood, and came to the conclusion that what I craved most was something vividly remembered from childhood - Swanson chicken and turkey pot pies, one of each. In my memory, they'd been almost identical: the turkey a shade more fibrous, the chicken a tad more slippery. But lo and behold, when I got to my local Gristede's and managed to find the freezer aisle - which was much longer and more magnificent than I remembered it - there were no small, round, foil-clad pies to be had. They'd been elbowed out of the way by flashier forms of frozen food.

O delicious pie, seemingly made out of library paste and diced wood, what has become of thee?


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The box sure makes them look tasty.


We see in the supermarket freezer the profound effects of the Age of Foodism. Where once this glacial enclosure was the resort of lazy people who didn't care what they ate as long as they could watch TV, and mainly consisted of pot pies, frozen burritos, and TV dinners, it is now just another excuse for gourmandization. The ice-encrusted boxes that I saw before me were no longer just frozen dreck, they were cuisine. In fact, the words "cuisine" and "gourmet" were everywhere on the packaging. I hadn't dug anything out of the freezer case apart from filo dough or ice cream for a long time, so decided now was the time to investigate exactly what was going on in supermarket frozen food departments. The odyssey took me through a dozen supermarkets and lasted a week. So put on your cross country skis and fur-lined parkas and follow me into the icy void of the supermarket freezer case.

As I discovered, anything that achieves widespread culinary popularity will inexorably move toward a frozen manifestation. That's simple thermodynamics. I was not surprised to see not one, but several types of sliders on display, the cartons boasting color depictions with the hamburgers posed like fashion models - though the boxes were often painted with rime in a way that suggested they'd been thawed and refrozen several times.

I picked the most effete sounding: The Perfect Bite Co.'s Gourmet Miniature Burgers, subtitled "Applewood Bacon and Cheddar" like a fine piece of literature. Something called miniature burgers might make you think of sliders, but these were way smaller than sliders..They turned out to be the size of silver dollars, and none too appetizing in appearance.

The instructions on the box were simple enough, unless, like me, you have no microwave. In which case you've got to go through this whole thing of swaddling the burgers in aluminum foil, first dripping water over them like the pope sprinkles holy water with a censer. Out of curiosity, I held a few back and simply baked them. The buns got dry as crackers, but really tasted much better that way. I doggedly ate the whole box. They were really bad, and I had to gulp a handful of antacids afterwards.


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The worst part was the taste of the meat, riddled with onion powder and relentlessly gray. And the cheese after being frozen and then baked has the texture of polyethylene plastic.

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3 comments
exackerly
exackerly

I'm not impressed. You obviously made up your mind ahead of time and picked the most disgusting items to make it a better story. And nearly all frozen products are designed to be microwaved, no matter what the package may say. Cooking them any other way is asking for trouble. In fact, Stouffer's makes quite a few things that are definitely edible. My mouth is watering just thinking of their Welsh Rarebit [sic]. Served over a good quality white toast.

JohnnyDeep
JohnnyDeep

Haha....Brilliant. This is a great column.

Frozen stuff is a bit nuts these days, indeed.
Though I will say sometimes a Stouffer's Veggie Lasagna (white sauce) isnt terrible. Even their Stuffed Peppers arent a horrible snack. Both are pretty tasty in fact. But the rest of the brands out there -- hmmm.......

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