Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Stouffer's Veal Parmigiana

I've been working lately on trying, very hard, to eat unhealthy foods. Continuing on this mad campaign, I have to ask myself a question: how can I piss people off?

I really want to piss some people off. I want thin-skinned, busybodies to start foaming at the mouth like Pavlov's dogs. I want angry emails to start filling my inbox and tell me what a prick I am. I don't really know why, I just do. So, I'm going to eat a baby animal. Enter Stouffer's Veal Parmigiana. One breaded veal cutlet served with spaghetti and tomato sauce and topped sparingly with mozzarella.

That's right vegans.  Come get me.
That's right vegans. Come get me.

Veal is a touchy subject with some people (read: vegetarians, vegans and other assorted ne'er-do-wells). These people actually believe that eating little baby cows is wrong. These people are wrong. Little baby cows are tasty.

Baby cows: It's what's for dinner.
Baby cows: It's what's for dinner.

The box was rather ordinary, and showed a happy little veal cutlet astride a mass of pasta. Doesn't look bad. The inside seemed about the same, except the little dab of tomato sauce atop my happy little veal cutlet was a little off the mark, leaving me with mostly unsullied meat. Most of the cheese missed its mark too, but that's ok.

I guarantee this is what the food at the Olive Garden looks like before it's served to you.
I guarantee this is what the food at the Olive Garden looks like before it's served to you.

The instructions say to make sure that the plastic film is pulled away from the happy little veal cutlet and then microwave the package for anywhere from 5-1/2 to 8-1/2 minutes. Naturally, I'm picking the quickest time. Partially because my monstrous appetite for baby cow is starting to cloud my judgement and also because of the rules.

Remember them? Well, if not, 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.

As soon as the microwave dings, and I pull out the package, I'm greeted with two things: the rich smell of tomato sauce, and an intense burning sensation as the scorching plastic of the container burns the skin off my fingertips. Yowza.

It burns like the very fires of hell, but it does make for a pretty presentation.
It burns like the very fires of hell, but it does make for a pretty presentation.

Once I put some bandages on my now useless crippled digits, it's time to dig in.

Veal Parmigiana!  (Literally)! (Literally)

Ok, here's the happy little veal cutlet, breaded and drenched in tomato sauce, or at least the bottom is. It looks like just about every other non-descript piece of breaded meat that you can get in a frozen dinner, with two exceptions.

  1. It's flatter
  2. It's smaller than a chicken nugget

The veal parmigiana smells faintly of wet breading, and not too much else. I guess that's to be expected since the breading is wet. The breading is pretty much soaked all the way through, and it isn't nice at all. The veal itself is firm, and would probably contrast well with a crisp or at least firm breading.

The cutlet itself is fairly greasy. Taste-wise, it's slightly seasoned, fairly neutral, but not bad. It's somewhat bland, but that's probably why it's served alongside spaghetti in tomato sauce. Most of what I'm tasting is the sauce itself, not the cutlet.

So, it's not bad, but then again, it's not all that good. The happy little veal cutlet may not have been a happy little calf when it was alive. Maybe it was a rebellious bovine who's sole act of defiance was being greasy and bland. Then again, it was probably just the way they made them at the factory.

Smell: 4/10
Taste: 6/10
Mouthfeel: 5/10
Total Score: (5.0/10)

Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce
Just a shade better than Cheff Boyardee.
Just a shade better than Cheff Boyardee.

So, this is spaghetti in tomato sauce. Instead of the beautiful tasting marinara sauce that you'll usually find in a parmigiana dish, this is tomato sauce. Boring, ordinary tomato sauce. Was the extra spice too expensive? Would it have bankrupted Stouffer's to use a little basil?

So, this is spaghetti in bland sauce. The pieces have been cut short, so we have lots of little spaghettis instead of only a few long spaghettis. This plays a dual role by making it easier to eat the meal with a single utensil, and by creating the illusion that there's more food in the container.

The first thing I noticed was that the cheese, which was supposed to be on the happy little veal cutlet and ended up on the spaghetti was real. Actual honest to goodness mozzarella cheese and not one of the billion cheese-like products that these meals usually contain. So that's where the spice-money went.

One of the foods that tends to freeze exceptionally well is pasta, and this spaghetti is no exception. It's neither gummy nor overcooked. Not only that, but the Plain-Jane sauce (which this smells strongly of), is not a puree actually contains chunks of tomato and onion. I was was fantasizing about fine Italian dining, I was expecting ketchup on noodles and I got something in between. We're talking a step up from Chef Boyardee, along the lines of an exceptionally fancy Chuck E. Cheese.

The sauce is sweet, much more than it probably should be, and this detracts from the overall product, especially since it covers almost everything that came in the package. You wouldn't want a bowl of this for dinner, but the amount that they give you is more than enough.

Smell: 7/10
Taste: 6/10
Mouthfeel: 9/10
Total Score: (7.3/10)

The Totals:

Smell: 5.5/10
Taste: 6.0/10
Mouthfeel: 7.0/10
Total Score: (6.2/10)

Stouffer's Veal Parmigiana isn't just difficult to spell, it's also a slightly-better-than-average frozen dinner that showcases a dead baby animal. With some adjustments to the reheating process, and a few spices, you might be able to pass this off as your own mediocre cooking.

On another note, this meal has given me some inspiration. I'm going to invent a burger called the Loving Family burger. It's a burger topped with mozzarella cheese and a small, burger-shaped veal cutlet. You could have it Italian-style, with some marinara sauce on top of the meat, or you could have it American-style with your choice of toppings (bacon costs extra). It's the meat from the father, the cheese from the mother and the veal from the baby; a perfect combination that makes use of an entire family of cows.

Bottom line is this: If meat is murder, than murder is apparently tasty. This might explain people like Jeffrey Dahmer. Do the world a favor, instead of murdering a eating a college coed, have some veal instead.

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