Not Quite A Fiesta

Hello everyone and welcome to the first-ever posting here at A Case of the Munchies.  Here we will bring to you from all corners of the supermarket and beyond all manner of food from off-the-shelf timesavers to “hey did you hear about this?” nuggets.

As I was browsing the aisles this weekend for the subject of our first post, I stumbled upon one of those timesavers that actually looked promising.  It seems that the Chi-Chi’s brand has taken another step towards feeding you at home with a line of “fiesta plates”. 

I found three different flavors that I wanted to try.  Of those three, I started out this evening with the “Salsa Chicken”.

Described as “white chicken with cilantro rice, tomatoes, onions & peppers”, this looked promising.  And the best part?  The box proudly proclaims it will be ready in 90 seconds.  If anyone can pull off a decent meal in 90 seconds, THAT’S worth having.  It also boasts an “authentic grilled flavor” and a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection seal for wholesomeness.  So it would seem all bases are covered.

Tearing open the box-like packaging and following the instructions, I nuked the Mexican meal.  90 seconds later, I had a heckuva time removing the plastic film from the top of the bowl so I could get to my meal.  They say you appreciate something more when you have to work for it.  Huh.

The first thing I noticed was a decidedly different look from what was on the packaging.  What I saw before me looked more like a stew than a sauced meal. 

Once I sunk my fork into the bowl though, I was able to find the chicken and rice presented on the packaging.

I wanted to like this food.  I really did.  But there was just too much  going against it.  First, the chicken.  The meat, while it clearly tasted like white meat, certainly gave the impression of being less than top quality.   The chunks fell apart in my mouth without much need for chewing and yet had the mild consistency of rubber.  The sauce favored the cilantro taste much more than any of the other spices used.  And, as I indicated before, this would have been much easier to eat with a spoon than with a fork.

Now I’m not one for reading the ingredients on any sort of prepared meal.  My goal is to enjoy the flavor and not worry so much about nutritional facts.   But a casual glance left me with a few bits tht caught my eye.  Now I laud the folks at Hormel (makers of this product) for their honesty, but it is amazing what you have to do to try to make a decent product.  Check out these excerpts (emphasis is mine):

Chicken breast strips with grill marks added

Tomatoes (tomatoes, water, tomato paste) - since when do tomatoes have ingredients?

Smoke Flavoring

Fire-roasted flavor

Now look, I can’t fault anyone for trying to make something taste fresh, but in this case, the flavor itself was the least of this meal’s problems.  The taste wasn’t too bad, it was the texture and consistency that was a problem.  If you need some food that doesn’t taste too bad and is OK in a pinch, this will do.  However, if you’re looking for a good meal that you can easily throw together and is filling, I suggest you look elsewhere.  I’d have to cobble at least two of these together to feel even remotely full.  Strike one for Chi-Chi’s.  I will, however, still try some of the other flavors soon and keep you all posted.

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