I'd needed something quick and easy as I was going out not long after coming home. And microwave ready-meals really aren't that bad, these days, are they? They normally fall into two categories, as far as I'm concerned
- Type 1 - simple. Stick it in, dial a number and nuke it.
- Type 2 - complex. As per type 1, but requiring you to stop halfway, lift up the cellophane and stir.
The ready meal in question was an Aldi Hungarian goulash, from their 'Around the World' range. The bright packaging tantalised me; I was ready for the rich beef stew, herbs and fluffy dumplings. Quick check, yes it's a Type 1, and all for less than two quid. Bish bash, and, as they say, bosh.
After eight minutes irradiation I peeled back the plastic, ready for the waves of paprika to wash over me. Hmm. This wasn't looking quite like the pack shot. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, what I had here was essentially a dirty protest in a plastic tub.
Manfully, I proceeded. After all, lots of food can be great even if it looks bad. I've eaten plenty of baltis that prove this point. The goulash slid onto the plate like so much East European ectoplasm. I could sense the entire Hungarian nation eyeing me disapprovingly, asking: "Ön nem haladó eszik amit?"*
I took a forkful. There was what food critics call 'mouthfeel'. At least I think that's what they call it, assuming they're in the habit of consuming beef-flavoured frogspawn.
Maybe a dumpling instead?
When seas have risen and governments have crumbled, I'll still be chewing my way through that dumpling. I'll be at it when I'm old and grey. "Christ on a bike," I thought, "this isn't food, this is something Amnesty International would campaign against. "
Be afraid, good people. There's a bad meal out there. Hear my warnings. It's a service I like to offer.
*("You're not going to eat that, are you?")