I just love technology! And one facet of technology that fascinates me is food technology. I love the great lengths that mankind is willing to go to to try to balance convenience vs taste/quality.
Let’s face it, the microwave oven has transformed our world more than we can probably quantify. It’s a modern miracle of science, but… I think we can be honest here… it doesn’t bring out the best textures and flavors of food, does it?
So I’m always interested in attempts to improve the taste of microwave food. Take for example, Marie Calendar’s new line of Al Dente frozen pasta dinners.
The problem: Frozen pasta, recooked in sauce, turns soft and textureless, and absorbs too much of the flavor of the sauce.
The Solution (according to Marie, anyway) is a new cooking tray. It’s hard to see in the above picture, but this sealed, frozen meal is in a bowl within a bowl. The sauce sits in the bottom, the pasta and meat is in a suspended colander. During cooking, the boiling sauce steams the pasta without turning it to mush.
After cooking, the inner bowl is tipped into the sauce, mixed and the happy consumer consumes his/her mass-produced goodness.
So what’s the real verdict? As advertised, the pasta was properly cooked, and I applaud their ingenuity.
On the other hand, the sauce and italian sausage were OK, and the meatballs just so-so. Frozen pasta foods still have a ways to go in the taste department, but at least they’ve got the texture right… and we only had to double the plastic waste and carbon footprint of production to achieve it.