So, the last time we went out of town, back when we adopted our daughter Nora, we had some friends house sit for us. One of these friends must have left a Banquet TV dinner in the freezer (because my wife would never buy one nor let me buy one.) Last night for second dinner I thought I’d give it a go. The following will constitute my review.
There were a lot of flashy words, some in English, all over the box. It was however easy to find the picture of the microwave and the clock. The nearby directions told me to remove the plastic covering from the potato cell of the dinner and microwave the dinner for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes I was instructed to stir the potatoes and heat in the microwave for three minutes more. After this came a rest period of 2 minutes and a thermometer test to ensure that the product was 165 degrees. As I was doing dishes at the time, the 8 minutes went by rather quickly. Had I not been otherwise engaged, 8 minutes would have been a rather long time to wait for the satisfaction of eating. At least in the mood I would assume I would need to be in to be satisfied by eating a Banquet TV dinner. However, that is neither here nor there. The 8 minutes expired and my meal was ready. I’m not sure if the typical TV dinner diner has a food grade thermometer to ensure that his or her meal is outside of the temperature danger zone when consumed, but we have one just for these sort of occasions. I was in possession of one hot rectangle of food products.
I carried the dinner underneath a paper towel (to protect my hand from scalding) to my desk upstairs. I made sure to bring a fork along. The footprint of the black plastic service container fit nicely on my desk, with plenty of room to spare for a glass of water and possibly a 2nd or 3rd place bowling trophy, had one been available. The meal was organized thusly: the aforementioned potatoes had slightly less than 1/4 of the area. The nearby, equally sized compartment held green peas. The major area, and star of the meal, was the chicken, or possibly turkey sitting atop stuffing with gravy.
I must briefly turn my attention to the chicken/turkey. While the packaging indicated a rather large piece of chicken, likely a breast, the actual meal contained what amounted to 2 half circles of thick deli sliced sandwich meat. One slice was white and the other was dark. Choices. The stuffing was a crouton-like material soaked in gravy. And by gravy I mean gelatinous brown salt product. It was really tasty. (By the by, I really struggled to start that one sentence back there with the word “and.” I wouldn’t have done it, but I got a nice letter from the Vice President and General Manager of AT&T Pacific Northwest and Alaska today offering me $100 off any tablet with a new 2 year service agreement as a holiday gift and he did it, so I thought I could probably get away with it.)
Now for the sides. I immediately recognized the potatoes as instant. Instant potatoes are translucent. The peas however, were remarkable. The problem with peas is that I grew up being asked to eat canned peas. I despise canned peas. They are chalky, and sweeter than they should be. They don’t taste like food from the garden. They taste like food from the basement. Only mushrooms can taste like food from the basement. These peas though were frozen peas. They were great. It was at this point (when I was enjoying the peas) that I realized the major positive in the TV dinner model for me as a child is a major negative for me as an adult. I very badly wanted my peas and my potatoes and my chicken/turkey crouton salt gravy to blend together and combine their flavor powers on my fork prior to entering my mouth. The barriers between the food products were just too high and too slippery to make this an enjoyable task. I had to fight my way over the wall with my peas like a band of little round green Orcs at Helms Deep. Just as many fell down into the rainy abyss as lept over into the elf-like translucent potatoes on the other side. It was a lot of work.
I was successful in the end though. I finished my TV dinner. Not in front of the TV, but while surfing facebook. Eating and browsing the internet is much easier than eating and watching TV. One can pause for a bite and pull one’s gaze away from the screen without the fear of missing something important. Status updates don’t happen that quickly. If I had to give my Facebook Dinner a rating, I would say 3.5 out of 5 stars. 8 minutes is far to long to wait for a good meal and I must be able to mix my food. Points off for those things. However, the flavor packed chicken/turkey section of my meal really hit the spot.