Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Swanson Hungry-Man Mexican Style Fiesta

For the last month, I've been trying to purge my body of all of the 'healthy' frozen dinners that I've tried out recently. It's sort of a reverse detoxification if you will. See, I'm used to toxins, and poisons and all kinds of bad things floating around my system. Any attempt to change that might just kill me outright. Well, that and I needed to flush out all the salt those things contained.

So, I thought to myself: what better way to rid myself of any vestiges of healthy food than to consume a Hungry-Man meal? These things couldn't even pretend to be good for you. Enter the Hungry-Man Mexican Style Fiesta. One whole pound of Mexican-like cuisine ready, willing and able to clog up my arteries with sweet sweet trans fatty acids.

I found it very interesting, well, not interesting in the normal definition of the word, but in a kind of mild 'oh hey, look at that' kind of way, that the box says 'Mexican Style'. Why not just Mexican? Maybe the food is just an American interpretation of Mexican food. The world may never care.

No longer will I be forced to get my Mexican-style food from Taco Bell!
No longer will I be forced to get my Mexican-style food from Taco Bell!

I restrained myself from wearing a blindfold and beating the crap out of the box with a baseball bat, and instead opened it the traditional way. Inside was a small tray containing three enchiladas, a small compartment of refried beans and another one of something they called cocada pudding, whatever the hell that is. No word on where the Mexican rice is held. I don't see it, but knowing Hungry-Man, it's probably underneath the pudding.

There's not a trace of green on this tray.  Perfect.
There's not a trace of green on this tray. Perfect.

How many of you can say that you've microwaved pudding before? I was once like you, but I have seen things you would never imagine. I have seen pudding boil. It's like watching the negatives of video footage from a tar pit. It's like watching a pimples in high-speed. It's like getting right up close and seeing that nazi from the end Raiders as his skin boiled off. It's not exactly appetizing.

Seven minutes later (this being probably one of the longer cooking times I've come across from Hungry-Man), the food was ready. The Mexican rice turned out to be under the enchiladas all along. I dished out the food and tucked in.

But, you know...first, 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.

Ok, now it's time to eat.

Beef Enchiladas in Chili Sauce
Yeah, that looks edible.
Yeah, that looks edible.

I don't really know where the chili sauce went. I thought I saw it in there when the food was still frozen, but it seems to have disappeared. It's even taken the token amount of unidentifiable cheese-like substance with it. What I'm left with are three enchiladas. They're limp and useless looking (am I right ladies?), just flopping around on my fork.

These are nothing like the enchiladas on the box. Those things are huge: filled with meat, covered lightly in bright red sauce, and then topped delicately with real cheese-like substance. The ones on my plate are small, sad-looking squashed things. Does anybody know what's wrong here?

For starters, it's the smell. Whoo-ee, do these thing reek. It's a wet, corn-like smell. I'd call it cornish, but I don't want to insult pasties or tin miners. There's not a hint of a meat or a chili smell to these. The flavor is metallic, like these things had been lingering in a can for months before being frozen. There's absolutely no spice, which is surprising since they're supposed to contain chili.

I've saved the worst for last. The tortillas that these enchiladas are wrapped in are damp and extremely unpleasant to eat. It's very difficult to come up with a proper analogy that can describe this just perfectly.

Here's what they look like on the box: full of meaty goodness.
Here's what they look like on the box: full of meaty goodness.
Here's what they look like on the plate: squashed and nearly devoid of meat.
Here's what they look like on the plate: squashed and nearly devoid of meat.

Think about this. Somebody has opened up a tin of Chef Boyardee Raviolis, and has taken out all the pasta, and left a small amount of the meat sauce on a plate. You then take a piece of newspaper, roll it up, run it under your kitchen faucet for a couple of seconds, then dredge it in the sauce. If you were to actually eat that, it would be more or less exactly like these enchiladas.

Smell: 3/10
Taste: 3/10
Mouthfeel: 2/10
Total Score: (2.6/10)

Mexican Rice
Mexican rice: why do you always suck?
Mexican rice: why do you always suck?

Mexican rice. For those of you who like to mix up countries, this is also known as Spanish rice, although I don't think anybody in Spain eats the stuff. Back in the Meal, Ready-to-Eat review, one of the side dishes I tried out was Mexican rice. If you haven't read that article, and aren't going to now (although you should because it's quite good), I'll give you a quick overview: it sucked.

Mexican rice has never been one of my favorite foods. Maybe because it just tastes like somebody put undercooked rice in cheap tomato sauce in an attempt to hide their inadequate cooking skills. Maybe it's because I've never had Mexican rice done right. So, I'm going to give this stuff the benefit of the doubt, and try it.

It sucks.

The smell is extremely complex, and up there with a very fine wine. It has an acidic, and very unpleasant smell, with earthy undertones and a hint of tomato. If this was a wine, you'd probably have given it up as vinegar right there. The rice itself is overly soft, but thankfully not gummy.

The flavor is the biggest saving grace, not because it's good, but because it's not terrible. It's not really anything. There's no true flavor here except the overwhelming taste of canned tomatoes, and somehow even that comes across as exceedingly bland.

Smell: 2/10
Taste: 3/10
Mouthfeel: 4/10
Total Score: (3.0/10)

Refried Beans
I tried really hard to keep this from looking like poop.  I failed.
I tried really hard to keep this from looking like poop. I failed.

We're batting 0 for 2 tonight. Here comes the next entry in this parade that will soon be picking up speed on it's way through my lower GI tract. It's refried beans. Yeah.

I maintain that there's little on this planet that looks less appetizing than refried beans. These are even worse. Unlike the 'chunkier' varieties I'm used to, this appears to be very smooth and creamy, the consistency of a loose bowel movement.

Thankfully, it doesn't smell anything like shit. In fact it smells pretty good. Really good actually. It's slightly spicy, but there's a very unami smell to it. Unami is really the only way to put it. There's a kind of fullness to it that's hard to describe.

Unlike the appearance, the texture is not uniform. Many of the beans have been mashed, but some have been spared, and provide a very satisfying contrast. While there's a slight spice to the beans, the flavor is unfortunately bland and while I'm able to eat the first few bites with gusto, I have to struggle to finish the rest.

Smell: 7/10
Taste: 4/10
Mouthfeel: 7/10
Total Score: (6.0/10)

Cocada Pudding
Ahhh mystery pudding.  You'll make everything better.
Ahhh mystery pudding. You'll make everything better.

Ok, I've gotten through all of the food, and it's time for dessert. I still don't know what this stuff is, and frankly, I'm probably better off if I don't figure it out until after I eat the stuff.

As I spooned the pudding into a ramekin, it bubbled and hissed at me, like it was offended that I chose to move it from it's plastic sanctum. It was a war cry, a challenge to my man-hood.

"You, are not man enough to take me on." the mystery dessert seemed to call out mockingly.

I've found that little in this world can intimidate a challenger like eating it, and that's what I did. Thankfully, by the time I got to the pudding, it had cooled down to an edible temperature.

The pudding had a soft scent, like coconuts, that seemed very out of place with the harsher odors emanating from the rest of the meal. The texture too was quite interesting: on the tongue it felt like instant pudding, soft and creamy, but floating around inside were small flakes of coconut meat that made it quite interesting. The pudding has a light coconut flavor, with hints of lemon and a milky background. Although it's subtle, it is very nice and it provides an excellent finish to a very mediocre meal. that shit smiling at me? that shit smiling at me?

A quick internet search revealed that surprise surprise, cocada pudding is a coconut pudding seasoned with cinnamon. Well, I didn't taste any cinnamon there, but it was still pretty good. I'm not the only one who thinks so. The top 3 search results on Google are all people asking how to make cocada pudding 'like the stuff that's in the TV dinners'.

Smell: 6/10
Taste: 9/10
Mouthfeel: 8/10
Total Score: (7.6/10)

The Totals:

Smell: 4.5/10
Taste: 4.8/10
Mouthfeel: 5.3/10
Total Score: (4.8/10)

Wow, I feel unhealthier, and by extension, healthier than I have in ages. The meal might have been on the cutting edge of mediocrity, but surprisingly enough, I think this was the best Hungry-Man that I've eaten. That's not saying much, but it's a definite improvement.

Bottom line is this: If somebody made instant cocada pudding mix, they'd make a fortune.

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