Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

No-Name Salisbury Steak Dinner
Generic packaging for a generic meal.
Generic packaging for a generic meal.

Salisbury steak. It's a classic dinner served in diners, cafeterias and from freezers in thousands of places every day, but what in the hell is it?

Well, first off, it's not steak, but that's kind of obvious. It's actually more like a hamburger, and is just minced steak served in brown gravy. It was first created by Dr. James Henry Salisbury in the late part of the 19th century. Dr. Salisbury was a bit of a nut job and believed that stuff like vegetables and starches (think bread, potatoes and the like) broke down in our digestive systems into poison and were responsible for diseases like cancer.

Dr. Salisbury believed vegetables caused cancer.

I'm not kidding about this, I don't think I could think this up if I wanted to. Anyway, Salisbury believed that humans were mainly carnivorous, and thought we could have about 1 part veggies to every 2 parts meat.

The cancer-fighting goodness of meat.
The cancer-fighting goodness of meat.

So, to presumably help combat the evils of vegetable-cancer, Salisbury invented the aptly named Salisbury steak, not that he really had to do much work mind you. It's a hamburger in brown gravy.

Anyway, although Salisbury's teachings have left us, his dish hasn't, and it's a staple in lunch rooms and diners from here to Japan and many points in between. More importantly, it's one of the oldest kinds of frozen dinners out there.

Now, I've got to make a confession here. I've never actually eaten a Salisbury steak, so this will be a new experience for me, but it seems pretty straight forward, even bland. It's meat and gravy. There is not way that this can be fucked up.

So, today's experiment will be on the No Name Salisbury Steak Dinner. It's a generic brand, but I couldn't find a name brand version at my grocery store, so this will have to do.

And once again, if you haven't been paying attention, here are the rules:

  • Rule #1:
    I must follow cooking procedures exactly as they're shown on the container. I will not deviate from those instructions in any way, and I must prepare food in the fastest manner presented to me.
  • Rule #2:
    I must consume everything that comes with the meal. No hiding of disgusting parts will be tolerated. (In the unlikely event of bones or other inedibles, allowances will be made).
  • Rule #3:
    To make sure my palate is completely free of obstructions, I may only be allowed either water or alcohol. Alcohol does not include fancy-pants fruity girly drinks.
  • Rule #4:
    All food will be graded by smell, taste and mouthfeel, with less offensive qualities receiving higher marks. At the end, each part is receives an average score. The full meal is graded by the average score of each component. Appearance of the food is not graded because, let's face it, they all look pretty bad.

So, the dinner itself is as straight forward as the main part itself. What we have here are:

  • - Salisbury steak in gravy
  • - Mashed potatoes
  • - Corn nibblets
  • - Apple crumble dessert product

Wait, something's wrong here. It's not to Salisbury's instructions! This contains as many vegetable products as it does meat! No Name foods is trying to give me cancer!

It was during this epiphany that I remembered that I live in the 21st century, and vegetables will not kill me, so I loaded up the microwave and got to cooking.

Salisbury Steak (in Gravy)
Meat: Now with 30% more unidentified gravy.
Meat: Now with 30% more unidentified gravy.

Wow, this smells bad. Like somebody took a dump on my plate and covered it with brown gravy. I can't get over how bad this is. However, the taste is good. Really good. Scary-good. The texture is about what I'd expect from minced steak and it's not at all crumbly. The gravy is greasy and a bit dull, but it's passable.

I was into my 3rd or 4th bite when I realized that the bad smell came from the other side of the steak, where it had been burned prior to packaging, so while in my microwave, it continued to burn. So, burned processed hamburger and gravy smells like fecal matter. Good to know, but the whole thing loses taste points for coming pre-burnt.

Smell: 3/10
Taste: 7/10
Mouthfeel: 8/10
Total Score: (6/10)

Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes: Now with 30% more unidentified gravy.
Potatoes: Now with 30% more unidentified gravy.

This stuff smells like chemicals, which seems to be a running theme with mashed potatoes. Which is really strange because potatoes are about the most simple things in the world to prepare, and mashed potatoes, doubly so.

The taste on the other hand is unsurprisingly dull. I added my leftover gravy to help liven it up, but it doesn't help too much. Once again, I'm left with library paste that's been accidentally placed in my mashed potato compartment.

Smell: 2/10
Taste: 5/10
Mouthfeel: 4/10
Total Score: (3.6/10)

Corn Nibblets

Corn has got to be just about the simplest thing to freeze and reheat. I mean, it's one of the first foods that were frozen, so it's got seniority. The company that made this obviously didn't get the memo. This stuff smells slightly musty and looks dried out. It tastes like corn, but my observation about it looking dried out was right on the money. It clung to my teeth like it was afraid to die.

Smell: 5/10
Taste: 6/10
Mouthfeel: 2/10
Total Score: (4.3/10)

Apple Crumble Dessert Product
Boy, I sure wish I had some random pieces of corn in this dessert.
Boy, I sure wish I had some random pieces of corn in this dessert.

Wow, this smells like cinnamon. Like real cinnamon. The taste is subdued and there's a very strong and unpleasant minty aftertaste. The whole thing is very gelatinous and I've got to gag it down.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but apple crumble is supposed to have two things in it: apples and crumble. There's no fucking apple in this thing, and if there were crumbles, they escaped during the trip to the microwave to live amongst their kind.

Luckily, some corn nibblets had been in my apple crumble dessert product and this provided me with some texture. I don't know what it is with corn and dessert, but if you have both, you're getting one in the other. It's like a fundamental law of the universe.

Smell: 8/10
Taste: 4/10
Mouthfeel: 2/10
Total Score: (4.6/10)

The Totals:

Smell: 4.5/10
Taste: 5.5/10
Mouthfeel: 4/10
Total Score: (4.6/10)

Well, this wasn't horrible by any means, but it wasn't great. It suffered from a lack of love.

Bottom line is this: It seems that frozen dinners have one of two states: undercooked and overcooked, and it's much nicer to get something that's slightly burnt than slightly raw.

Next time, is a special one. A super-special secret guest tester and I will subject ourselves to Aunt Jemima's Griddle Cake Sandwiches. I'm so fucking happy!

I'm so fucking happy I just came!
I'm so fucking happy I just came!

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