Friday, 26 July 2013

Hungry-Man Limited Edition Smokin' Backyard Barbeque Dinner

I love mechanically deboned meat. Not just the concept but the phrase itself. It rolls off the tongue like a boneless picnic pork shoulder off a slaughterhouse conveyor belt. I guess the proper term these days is mechanically separated but for me deboned has a nicer ring, like a Shakespearean soliloquy delivered to or from the balcony of a star-crossed love. And if the object of that love is a man (or woman for boneless meat knows no gender), hungry for all things worldly, whether they be of the flesh, blood, soul or a nice plate of pork brains in milk gravy, then we have the makings of a beautiful Romeo and Juliet story but with lots of meat to push the drama to the precipice of tragedy. Because if the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but not with a scalpel and retractor as some would think, then the only other way for Juliet to land her man is with a Hungry-Man dinner. After she gets rid of her family of course, since they stand in the way of her true love so she has to kill them all and he has to kill off all his family also because they too block the path of the couple's pure boneless meat desires and then they have to kill off all their friends and the townsfolk as well because no one will sell them Hungry-Man dinners and, well, you catch my drift. It's a veritable bloodbath and that's before even any animals are slaughtered and then mechanically separated into a thick, aromatic slime to prepare it for prefabricated meat patty production. Are you following me because I'm not. I guess that's what happens when you mix NyQuil with a bowl of Sugar Pops. Anyway, what I mean to say is I'm a man and I'm hungry and what does a hungry man love more than a backyard barbeque. But the thought that I can have that backyard barbeque without having to barbeque anything or even have a backyard to not barbeque anything in in the first place (did I mention that along with not having a backyard I also don't own a barbeque so I'm really ahead of the game) is an amazing example of the forward progress of contemporary society and the leaps and bounds we have made in the food sciences. To put it more succinctly, as a hungry man with a boundless appetite I thoroughly embrace mechanically deboned meat since it eliminates the bones and fat and other debris that reduce the efficiency of my feeding, thus hampering my gorging abilities and the speed with which I can consume my proteins. And making these proteins into barbeque-styled offerings through the use of various esoteric additives and flavourings and presenting them in an attractive microwaveable tray makes me believe that I have finally joined the space age that was promised to me so long ago during an episode of My Favorite Martian.
So, getting to the deboned meat of the matter I was more than anxious to get this Hungry-Man dinner into the microwave. I put on George Jones singing The Cold Hard Truth because what goes better with a backyard barbeque than bitter regrets and flammable hairdos. Opening the Hungry-Man Dinner box my hands shook with anticipation more than that time when I was trying to unwrap an inflatable sex doll that I had ordered online. Directions were a bit more complicated than my usual microwavable material (or the sex doll for that matter), asking for partial heating, then removal of the brownie and then more reheating of the meat and mashed potatoes with various slits made in the film wrap or the film wrap to be folded back completely in some sections but I was up for the task and in seven minutes my barbeque dinner was ready, hot and steaming and wafting an aromatic if not a slightly acrid BBQ sauce vapour that burned the eyes like too much chlorine in a public pool.
There are two meat offerings in this dinner package that befit any backyard barbeque-a grilled chicken cutlette and a pork rib shaped cutlette. I like the word cutlette almost as much as I like the words mechanically deboned. It conjures up a sense of symmetry and tidiness, an effort to define and reflect shape in a world that seems mainly shapeless, messy and unpredictable at the best of times. With a cutlette you know where you stand and you can count on its uniformity to bring a sense of order to your chaotic life. That being said these cutlettes had a disturbing presence. Maybe it was the swamp of BBQ sauce that they were drowning in. The facsimile ribs had some appealing faux-grill marks but their boneless melding together had a conjoined twins quality that was a bit disturbing. Or, if you squinted your eyes it was almost like Jenga blocks made of meat placed side by side. Nevertheless I was willing to forgo these visual evocations  if only the taste and texture was in place. Unfortunately, like Jenga blocks, the interior had the taste and texture of wood. Actually particle board to be more exact, which means Jenga blocks would probably taste better. This rib-shaped pork slime cutlette was not so much boneless as spineless and though the BBQ sauce tried hard to cover the meat's shortcomings, the sauce itself was so sickly sweet it was if I was eating a funeral bouquet. Off the coffin itself.
As for the chicken cutlette, it was alarmingly white and blubbery, more like sea life than poultry. Which made it able to at least breathe in its BBQ sauce ocean. Alive, I would not be surprised to find gills on this creature along with a beak. Why did the chicken cross the road? To return to the ocean of course. Jacques Cousteau would've won the Nobel Prize in science if he'd discovered this monstrosity. But the meat beneath the pallid, bloated belly of this species that lay like a dead chicken/fish entity on a BBQ sauce shoreline was not entirely disgusting. There was a kind of tenderness to the meat, even if that tenderness was reminiscent of an abusive spouse stroking your hair after they've just informed you that you're no better than a worm and you're crying into the lap of their sweatpants stained with rum and Cokes, aerosol cheese and nosebleeds. There was definitely a chicken-like consistency to the cutlette although on the flavour front it was hard tell since, again, the BBQ sauce drowned out everything like white noise on the taste buds. I have to say, the corn held up nicely with crisp kernels and a sweet flavour as if you'd just microwaved Mother Nature and she lived to tell about it. I don't even know what the mashed potatoes were made out of but they're equally adaptable to caulking your bathtub or eating and I came to admire them for their duplicity and multi-purpose nature. I'm not sure they were mashed so much as whipped into dehydrated submission, which actually goes along with the whole sadomasochistic nature of this meal. Did I mention the brownie? It was actually not bad but so tiny that not even a mouse could get a cavity from this thing. Which makes me think that of mice and men, with the Hungry-Man dinner, it's a crap shoot whether either rodent or human could finish this meal. Maybe they should rename this thing the John Steinbeck Dust Bowl Barbeque and actually add some mice to the menu. It could only improve the flavour and as a marketing plan, you'd have the unions eating out of your hand and the plastic trays  too. This is a limited edition summer offering so get them while they're hot, to be enjoyed in your lawn chair amidst all the surrounding dead grass, the scent of a nearby Porta-Potty mixing with the magnolias and motor oil and the summer sun smoking off your bald spot.    
Anyone up for a tailgate party? It's as easy as 1-2-3 with no barbeque required, just a long extension cord to plug in the microwave, even if you have to run it through your neighbour's backyard since your own electricity was cut off.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Hardbite Kettle-Cooked Jalapeno Potato Chips

Why take a hard bite out of a leg or a head when you can have some Hardbite Chips instead.
Being a bit of a couch potato it seems ironic to review a healthy potato chip that features imagery of people engaging in all sorts of adventurous outdoor activity on its packaging. But if there's such a thing as armchair traveling, why not armchair extreme sporting, feeling the curl of the big wave beneath my surfboard or biking the rickety trestle bridges of the Kettle Valley Railroad, all the while with my feet planted firmly on my food and beverage-stained ottoman, my recliner chair tipped back to a comfortable 45 degree angle and all my snack foods and drinks at my fingertips, a kind of sedentary efficiency I find comparable to Captain Kirk's bridge chair on the Enterprise. Press a button, goodbye Klingons. Another button, goodbye Romulans. Another button and it's hello, green-skinned alien space-babe in a negligee with devil eyebrows and a beehive hairdo, serving up some forbidden fruit from Zogtar 6 as a prelude to some interplanetary foreplay and supernova lovemaking. With me supplying the potato chips of course. And if I had to pick just one chip to impress another race of beings from a far-off galaxy, especially if I was looking to make time with one of their fetching ladies, these Hardbite Jalapeno chips would be at the top of my list. You could say I wear my pride on my chest because that's where all the debris from these BC made potato chips came to rest during my snack fest and as a Vancouverite, I felt the weight of their importance, both as a locally made healthy snack food and a boost to the BC economy, rising and falling with each breath beneath my creaky ribcage. And if I wear my pride on my chest I also wear my heart on my sleeve because that's where I wipe off all the potato chip grease and looking at those smudges sends a surge of patriotism through my veins along with a whack-load of fat into my arteries. Or so you would think but remember, these are healthy potato chips. No trans fats, no cholesterol, no MSG, no GMO's, gluten free, the only thing these chips haven't done is solve global warming. Made from 'taters grown on the company's 600-acre farm, you could say every chip is vouched for from the dirt to the bag. And that's what truly had me marveling at these things. Every chip was permeated with this earthy flavour and the taste of potato was front row centre and not trying to hide in the back row of the spud theatre, making out in the dark with some unwholesome ingredients. Thus the jalapeno powder patina speckling these crispy critters was not overpowering but lay in wait like spicy snipers taking potshots at the taste buds and letting the heat build gradually. This was first degree spud burn in a good way. And the package image of the mountain biker navigating the tricky trestle of the Kettle Valley Railroad satisfied all my armchair adventure ambitions. Check the website,, for all the flavour variations and a chance to win some kind of Hardbite adventure. And with these health-conscious chips I can finally wear my heart on my sleeve without risking a heart attack except for the fact I did eat these things with a huge bacon cheeseburger that produced more grease pools than at a drag strip race track. Luckily I keep up a daily regimen of recliner-chair calisthenics to keep me in tip-top sedentary shape and help the old ticker stay pumping with the vigor of an irrigation pipe, ready for another day of snacking and steadying me during the tenser moments in Star Trek. 
The Headless Hula Dancer of Halfmoon Bay and her zombie henchman are getting ready for a luau pig roast and some Hardbite Jalapeno chips.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Michelina's Signature General Tao Chicken

Considering that Marco Polo visited China back in 1266, you'd think in this day and age you could get a decent plate of Chinese food somewhere in Italy. But that's not the case. Back when I visited Florence, I found one Chinese food restaurant and every dish tasted like olive oil and the chow mein noodles were spaghetti. And when I asked for chopsticks there was a general murmuring before a hush fell across the room as I maneuvered the food to my mouth and it felt as if I had just proclaimed that the Medici were just a bunch of fart-sniffing miscreants with good taste in art, pantaloons and snazzy skullcaps. With this memory still fresh in my misfiring synapses after all these many years, I realized it was best to sit back and let the Italian/Chinese food come to me rather than me go to it. Why be Marco Polo when I could be Mark the Couch Potato and reap the rewards of other people's efforts? Which is why I had high hopes for Mama Michelina and her new line of Asian-inspired frozen entrees. If any Italian could do Chinese food right, Michelina, a division of Bellisio Foods, started by Jeno Paulucci (Michelina was his mother's name) in Minnesota, could. On further investigation of Mr. Paulucci, I was amazed to discover that he started the Chun King line of canned Chinese foods back in the 1940's and my immediate reaction was "Holy Toledo, this is the Italian Chinese food I never managed to find in Italy but it was right under my very nose all this time." I actually spoke these words out loud to the computer screen like the moron that I am. In a note of irony, Mr. Paulucci was criticized for moving his pizza roll plant (another of his food creations) and the 1200 jobs that went with it from Duluth, Minnesota to Jackson, Ohio, which is only 89 miles from Toledo, Ohio (about 1 hour and 28 minutes driving time), so when I exclaimed "Holy Toledo," it was almost like a bit of post-foreshadowing of past history that I was yet to discover only minutes later in my research. But pizza rolls are one thing and Chinese food another and I wasn't going to hold it against Mr. Paulucci (now deceased) for his pizza roll indiscretions when General Tao's Chicken was on the menu. I'm a big fan of this chicken dish that oddly, no one in China has ever heard of, but seems to have begun in New York City with roots in Hunan cooking by two different expatriate cooks, both who still vie for bragging rights as the originator the dish. It's a tale of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship, steeped in history and bitter rivalry, a veritable Great Gatsby of poultry if Gatsby had been a Chinese immigrant and the Jazz Age were replaced with 70's Times Square topless bars and disco music. And spicy-sweet chicken of course. I was intrigued to see the package spelling as General Tao as opposed to General Tso, the name I'm more familiar with on the $4.99 lunch menu at some of the hole-in-the-walls I frequent, but I'll take Tao over Tso any day because one is just a name and the other reflects an enlightened path and a way of being, even if that pure way simply results in deep-fried breaded chicken. All I can say is that I think General Tso or Tao, a Qing Dynasty bigwig from Hunan Province in the 1800's, would be amazed to this day to find that his name is affiliated with sweet and spicy poultry invented in New York City. Such is the intriguing weave of history and the fact that that history has led to the ultimate homage in the realm of food production in the form of a frozen entree available to millions, certainly leading General Tao (if he were still alive today) to believe he had truly conquered the world. So as I popped this thing in the microwave it was with humility and reverence for all that has gone before me, the march of time, the Tao of poultry and the humble origins of one of the greatest Asian dishes to find its way into the hearts and minds of hungry North Americans. That's a big reputation for Mama Michelina to live up to and so I wasn't surprised when she fell somewhat short of the mark. Nevertheless, it was a valiant effort and I was left somewhat surprised, considering how the dish first looked as it emerged from the microwave. Firstly, there wasn't enough broccoli to keep a pygmy rabbit happy. Two tiny droopy pieces fighting for their lives amongst the sauce and rice. Those pygmy rabbits would be pleased though with the carrot shards which were far more plentiful and even retained a bit of crunchiness. I wish I could say the same for the chicken, which, I'm given to understand regarding this dish, is supposed to have a crispy coating enclosing the tender, succulent poultry inside. And the chicken should be front and centre, not standing offstage like a bitter understudy, limp with despair and hopeless rage, huddled together with a few of its equally despairing breaded chicken brothers, mumbling about their lousy plight in the food tray and the fact that they'll never see the limelight. For this chicken, or what could be found of it, had a mucilage-like texture to its breading, reminiscent of a snail's underbelly, although the interior, the actual meat of the matter did a good job of portraying actual chicken breast but the offering was so measly in size it could've sat up and sang the Star Spangled Banner and I wouldn't have batted an eye. It was actually the sauce that was the big surprise. Advertising its sweet and spicy attributes on the package, this sauce had a considerable spicy kick and managed to herd the other feeble ingredients together into an integrated fighting force where illusion was the key, something General Tao, in his warfare days, might have utilized himself to conquer the enemy. I'll also say that the rice managed to wipe away any preconceived notions I had about microwaved starch grains as each grain of rice was as crisp and clear as a Vermeer painting, both in texture and taste. Michelina has some other new varieties in their signature Asian food lineup that I'm keen to try if only to see if I survive. Each one of them is sure to be an adventure, kind of like Marco Polo traveling to Asia by way of Minnesota. One thing I do know now is I think I can finally answer that age-old question about why the chicken crossed the road. Obviously to get away from the dynamic duo of General Tao and Mama Michelina.    

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Stouffer's Bistro Meatballs & Mozzarella Crustini

A thoroughly modern family getting ready to enjoy their Stouffer's Bistro Crustinis. Young and old alike, not to mention even the family zombie, can't get enough of these mozzarella and meatball delights.
What is a crustini? Is it a stale panini? A toupee made of dried linguine? A crotchety octogenarian's martini? A barnacle-encrusted bikini? Language, like food, is always changing and here, the nice folks at Stouffer's have introduced not only a new word but a new food to accompany this creation. This is a company that has been bringing families together over frozen entrees since 1946 and with their Bistro line-up of products, they've now created a zippy hand-held single-serving entree for the contemporary condo-dwelling depressed single person, filled with regrets and shattered dreams, that they can enjoy alone, either over the kitchen sink or huddled at the tiny IKEA bistro table that they bought on a whim during a moment of hopefulness and wishful thinking about their future situation. Still, they can sit with their laptop propped in front of them and have one hand free to poke the millions of friends that like them in virtual space while the other hand can grip this Stouffer's treat. They can even grind up their antidepressants and sprinkle the powder right into the molten mozzarella and meatball Crustini centre. Or maybe I just sound old and crusty in my evaluation of modern social media living, which is why I think the Crustini was really made for me. As a stay-at-home dad of three kids, with barely any friends, online or in reality, it's really me sitting by the heart-warming glow of the microwave (my version of the fireplace), in my fast food stained bathrobe or if I'm feeling more energetic, my condiment splattered thrift store bought knock-off track suit that says Addiddas over the left breast, waiting the mandatory two minutes for this thing to be ready so I can wolf it down and get back to the laundry, dish washing and wasting time reading Missed Connections on Craigslist while passing intestinal gas so bad it could melt Banlon socks from fifty feet away. Which led me to believe that if you're going to cook up something so effective in your stomach it could be categorized as a weapon, it's not a bad bet to do it with one of these Crustini contraptions. First off, they come with their own cardboard crisping sleeve that you slide the Crustini into before putting it into the microwave. Truly the next step in radiated cooking and the sleeve performs two functions, acting as both a crisping device for the Crustini's Italian herb crusted carapace and functioning as a hand protector from this very same searing surface when you hold it during the eating process. As you move down the length of the Crustini with each toothy bite, you simply peel away another part of the perforated crisping sleeve to reveal more of this delectable treat. Of course, all this edible technology and ease of consumption begs the question, how do these things taste? Well, I've been ripped-off before in the meatball category when it comes to quick, ready-prepared foods and I've seen the promise of a picture dashed against the meager rocks of reality. But in this instance, I'm happy to say, the Crustini didn't disappoint. Although small, about the size of rabbit droppings, there were plenty of meatballs packed into the core of the Crustini, sometimes peeking shyly, sometimes proclaiming loudly, 'look at me," amongst the melted mozzarella and slightly sweet, almost Chef Boyardee-ish tomato sauce. A few dashes of hot sauce helped the cause. The crust, though not exactly flaky as the box proclaims, still maintained a crusty composure and the Italian herb dusting with its various dehydrated and powdered ingredients took me back to that time in Tuscany although I've never been there but I have been to an Olive Garden in Sudbury, which is pretty close if you squint your eyes and forget the nickel mines, so either way, you could say the taste transported me. In the ingredient listings I was happy to see some of my favourite food additives that I've come to know and love like fungal protease, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate and L-cysteine hydrochloride so I knew I was in good hands with these Stouffer's folks and I'm ready to try their other Crustini flavours. The crisping sleeve boldly reads, "Heat, crisp & go!" obviously in tune with our busy times but I say heat, crisp & sit down in your sauce-spattered, partially-open bathrobe and let the world spin madly by while you savor mini-meatballs and dream of a Tuscan sunset over the nickel mines.  

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Tim Hortons Duelling Donuts

I don't normally act like a shill for a large company but this is a piece of Tim Horton's news that definitely needs mentioning. Now some folks dream of fame and fortune, others of great scientific discoveries and then there are those who simply want to go down in history for designing a winning donut. Well, if you're the latter then get your glazed creative juices flowing because Tim Hortons is running the Duelling Donuts competition, the winning donut judged and decided by none other than Jason Priestley. The winner takes home ten grand, which is enough to turn your mobile home into a double-wide and still have money left over to buy the Stompin' Tom Connors boxed set, three pounds of margarine and an ice fishing hut. You can check the donuts already entered into the competition to see what you're up against and then use the online virtual donut-maker to come up with your own unique creation. You can choose a ring, solid (with choice of creme fillings), Dutchie, cruller or apple fritter as a base and from there you can get all Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Michelangelo or Frida Kahlo with your donut decorations. Not to mention the flavour pairings you can experiment with. Did I mention Jason Priestley is doing the judging. Now many of us remember him mostly for his starring Broadway role in Das Boot, The Musical, but it's really the underground and groundbreaking TV series, Beverly Hills, 90210, where he was able to showcase his insanely dramatic talents (see image below for the recently reunited cast photo). So expect some tough donut judging because as serious as this man is about acting, so too is he about donuts. For all the details go to
The original cast of Beverly Hills 90210 reunited for this photo shoot. From left to right, Jenny Garth, Shannon Doughnutty, Ian Zitsmeyer, Fortunato Austin-Spleen, Joe "The Hermaphrodite" Tatas, Gabby Carparts, Tori Spellingbee, Jason "The Defrocked" Priestley and Blimpy Perry (holding Gerta the suckling pig of Beverly Hills and official show mascot).

Friday, 21 June 2013

Tyrrell's Sweet Chili and Red Pepper Potato Chips

It's a free-for-all where Tyrrell's English crisps are involved. Here, an entire Shakespearean tragedy is re-enacted in this amateur theatre production of Hamlet the Cannibal Hippo of Hereford.
In Grade 8 my gym teacher once looked at me and inexplicably yelled, "Laba, if you ever have kids they're gonna look like potato chips." I still don't know what he meant or what prompted him to blurt out this comment in the first place. Maybe he was just unhappy with my feeble pushups or snail-pace rope climbing. Yes, I might have been skinny and non-athletic but did that necessarily mean I carried potato chip DNA. Would I one day hand that 'tater gene down to my future children? A frightening thought. Especially if my children did resemble potato chips because if so I would probably eat them. Just like the Greek god, Titan Cronus, made famous in a Goya painting (those were the days before Instagram), except he devoured his kids for completely different reasons. His motivation was because he feared he would be overthrown by his children one day (tell me about it) and me, because my kids had sour cream and onion flavouring. But now that I have kids and they look nothing like potato chips, I'm thoroughly relieved and my penchant for potato chips leads me down different avenues of crispy investigation. Which directed me to this British crisps company out of Herefordshire. Now I know Herefordshire is famous for its cattle (the famed Hereford cow with its distinctive reddish-brown body colour that's very close in hue to my Uncle Benny's toupee), cider production and the fact it's still legal to shoot a Welshman on a Sunday in Hereford as long as you're using a longbow and the Hereford Cathedral is within sight. Well, now you can add potatoes to that eminent list with locally grown potatoes, some sporting some very aristocratic names, the Lady Claire and Lady Rosetta being two good examples. Honestly, after tasting these chips I think all these potatoes deserve knighthoods. Hand-cooked in small batches, these chips have that natural crisp texture that food additive dusted potato chips can only fake like a bad Elvis impersonator in a stained white pantsuit performing out back of a 7-Eleven using a dumpster lid as a stage. The sweet chili and red pepper variety I sampled struck that perfect balance between spicy and sweet, neither upstaging the other, like Sir Laurence Olivier directing Don Knotts and Goldie Hawn in Hamlet. In the ingredients listings I was surprised to see ginger, star anise and basil, which I think you can safely say and certainly taste, adds a depth to these 'tater wafers that round out the more aggressive notes of the jalapeno chili and cayenne pepper speckling. The added beauty is each chip has its own unique curl and twist to its shape, no two seemingly alike much like snowflakes or socks in your drawer and with their edges rimmed by remnants of 'tater skin, taking the uniformity out of chips as we know them, each crisp has its own personality. As if the chips weren't good enough, the packaging adds a whole other level of enjoyment to your munching. Each bag comes emblazoned with a vintage photo of intriguing-looking English people engaging in peculiar activities. Eccentric is what I believe they call these people overseas. On this side of the pond we simply say crazy. The sweet chili and red pepper bag comes adorned with two stern-looking gents with impressive mustaches riding in what appears to be a tiny turn-of-the-century fire engine and wearing firemen hats that look as if they were stolen from the Smurf village. As if this wasn't entertaining enough, the company invites people to send in their own photos of their eccentric family or friends along with a story about them so if you have an old snapshot of Uncle Ralph in a Speedo milking rattlesnakes by the banks of the Mississippi in 1940 or Aunt Eleanor wearing her retractable motorized pompadour you can win free chips for a year or even more. Actually, the website abounds with plenty of fun stuff, good for perusing while crunching through bags of these crisps though I find it interesting that on the UK site,, about the spicy chips I tried it says, "Extinguish With A Pint Of Bitter but on the American site,, the pint of bitter is switched out for a cup of iced tea. Maybe the result of all those shows about interventions on American reality TV but if a company can't advise people to try their chips with a nice pint of bitter or Pabst Blue Ribbon or Budweiser for that matter, you might as well go back to Prohibition.
Ah, a chip to soothe the savage beast. No doubt this hippo has lost his fondness for human head meat after trying these English potato chips.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Aunt Jemima Griddlecake Sandwiches

Do you want a heart attack but keep falling short of the mark? Well, the problem is you're not doubling down your bet. Or boxing your trifecta. Or placing a straight up number in roulette. The sure thing never pays off big in the odds but with the Aunt Jemima Griddle Cake, it's only a matter of time before you win the jackpot on the long shot. If it's cardiac arrest you're after, this is a sure way to hedge your bets. But like all gambles, you just have to be patient. Still, with an egg, sausage and cheese sandwiched between two maple-syrup injected pancakes, really, how long do you have to wait? Well, it depends on your daily caloric intake but if you bought these things in the first place you're a prime candidate or ripe for the picking or any other phrase you can imagine your doctor uttering as he hooks you up to the ECG machine. But you can just sit back in your flimsily-tied hospital gown, letting the breeze blow up your back and down your ass crack, knowing you did the job right and that if you do die, Aunt Jemima will be waiting for you on the other side, a heaping plate of griddle cake sandwiches held out to you in heaven-sent greeting. What's the saturated and trans fat percentage in one of these critters? Well, enough to fell an elephant but probably not a Teamster's union member. And the sodium content could make a salt lick big enough for a barnyard. But who cares about that when these things, as advertised on the box, have "delicious syrup flavor built in." I love the idea of removing various steps to make your breakfast that much more efficient. Speaking for myself, I tend to be very groggy as the day begins and handling utensils or having to find various items in the muddled mess of the refrigerator is beyond my capabilities as birdsong plays on the frayed neurons of my brain. Hand-held breakfast sandwiches are a step in the right direction but then injecting syrup flavour right into the flapjack, thus eliminating extra needless steps like pouring syrup, is a stroke of genius. Or just a stroke. Either way, I take my hat and toupee off to the good folks at Aunt Jemima for helping me start my day with a minimum amount of wheezing from overexerting myself trying to assemble breakfast ingredients. Truly this seems to me the kind of concept that was dreamed up by food engineers with stocks in mall scooter companies or else two drunk guys on their way to Dollywood in a Winnebago. As for the taste, well, immediately upon opening the microwave door the rich aroma of synthesized maple syrup played gently through my nose hairs like a sweet summer breeze. The pancake consistency was a bit floppy and gummy and although floppy is an inherent trait in the body of a pancake, using two of them to sandwich egg, sausage and cheese just seems dangerous to me. Anything could slip out onto a lap or the whole thing could just disintegrate in your hand, fingers poking through to molten processed cheddar cheese. Luckily, this is where the gummy texture of the pancakes came into play and though the sponginess of the griddlecakes felt odd to me, they held up well and didn't give way. The egg was, well, your typical punched out egg patty that pretty much had no taste but provided a stable surface for the cheese to sag upon. I had high hopes for the sausage part of this breakfast sandwich equation but was underwhelmed and didn't find it sausage-y enough. It could simply be that the intense built-in syrup flavouring over-rode the more delicate nuances of this griddlecake curiosity. On the plus side, the time and energy I saved with this all-inclusive breakfast sandwich, gave me the momentum and inspiration to behead a couple of Barbies and Kens for my Day of the Hula Dead photo shoot.
Who can resist a delicious griddle cake sandwich on the Dia de los Hula Muertos?