Greetings and frozen felicitations.
My name is Nicholas Gazin and I am VICE’s art editor, but I also review frozen food weekly. Some is good, some is less good. Most of it is the pits.
Whereas most frozen food consists of one dish or food item, the makers of these following products attempted to produce complete meals that you cook all at once in your microwave. Meats, noodles, vegetables, grains, and sometimes a horrendous pudding or brownie, all bombarded with microwaves for the same amount of time. The results are typically abysmal, but some were good. Most weren’t though.
Kid Cuisine: Chicken Breast Nuggets
The blue plastic food tray was beautiful next to the yellow food. The chicken nuggets were flavorless and un-crispy. The macaroni and cheese was flavorless, and the “cheese” was sort of runny and yellow. The corn was flavorless and in a pool of warm, thawed ice. The (also warm) pudding with sprinkles was pleasant and full of stray macaroni.
Hungry-Man: Salisbury Steak
Hungry-Man makes three varieties of TV dinner, but I chose the Salisbury Steak because it’s a stereotypical TV dinner dish and because it looked the grossest.
The plastic serving dish was able to sit in the oven for 35 minutes without melting, which I found odd. (Side note: Did you know that Salisbury steak was first created by a medical doctor named Dr. Salisbury? He was an early champion of low carb diets.)
I’d just eaten a Kids Cuisine and was prepared for something high in sodium and low in flavor. It was high in sodium, containing 1300 mg of it, and it was also rich in flavor. Unfortunately, I didn’t like that flavor.
The mashed potatoes were acceptable and like actual food. The green beans were also not unlike food. The twin steaks were bathed in a mushroom-gravy swamp. The flavor was awful and memorable. The brownie was flavorless and only offered its comforting warmth as consolation.
I’m not familiar with the brand Luvo, but they sent me a giant, styrofoam container with a package of dry ice and a variety of free frozen foods, so now I’m eating them.
While last week I mused on why Amy’s has yet to make Jewish food, it also occurred to me that I hadn’t seen any soul food around the frozen food aisle, which I’ve become way too familiar with. Luvo, however, makes soul food.
This one has chicken, collards, and grits. Inside the box is a sealed paper bag with what feels like a huge block of ice inside. You microwave it for seven minutes in the bag and then carefully cut it open. The instructions on the box tell users/eaters to “shimmy the contents onto the serving plate.” I just turned it upside down, like dumping out re-usable diapers, which is why the presentation of my meal is poor.
The chicken tasted pretty great, not too sinewy or soft. The barbecue sauce was very mild. (Typically, I find that frozen food featuring sauce tastes like what it feels like to drown in a corn syrup lake.) The grits were a plain heap, but adding hot sauce and some finely-grated cheese helped. The collards were stellar and came with corn, onions, and peppers. Everything was spiced mildly, but not bland.
I’ve eaten a couple frozen TV dinners and none even came close to resembling food. I would eat this again. I do wish the bag contained a little brownie or pudding thing inside it like other TV dinners, though. Otherwise, this was the best complete meal-style frozen food I’ve tried yet.
I would buy a few of these a week if they were sold in my supermarket.
I’m blown away by these Luvo things. This one was pretty good. The chicken was great. The pieces of mango felt slightly slimy, but I didn’t mind. The quinoa and brown rice was great. The broccoli was slightly sweet, probably from the mango.
I’m still mostly impressed with how they figured out how to make microwaveable chicken that comes out this perfect. Considering that all the elements in this meal were cooked in the same bag for the same amount of time, the contents of the steamy bag should have been like goop. But nope, great food.
Amy’s: Enchilada With Spanish Rice & Beans
The rice was like rice. The beans were like beans. The enchilada was like rice and beans in a little floppy tube.
Corn was also a component. Thank you, corn.
Corn: You’re welcome, Nicky. I love to be in your body.