O gods of gastronomy, how I have angered thee, may thy prophet Justin Wilson pray for this lost soul. As the Israelites were tempted to build the golden idol, so were we swayed to create our own abomination by the lure of golden cheesy wonder wrapped in a red and white box, adorned with the cajoling label “Zatarain’s Jambalaya with Cheese”. Could this improbable combination finally conclude my snobbish moratorium on boxed jambalaya? As I watched my loving wife pour out the stained rice, dehydrated vegetable bits and brownish “cheese-like-flavored, powdered seasoning clump” into the pot, I did not feel hopeful. But, alas, it was late and we were hungry. So we mixed with it our browned andouille and hoped (nay, prayed) for the best. At long last (20 minutes or so), the stove timer tolled as our home was filled with the intoxicating aroma of sharp cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper, onions and that crumbly fleshy detritus one finds between one’s toes after a hot day in the Louisiana bayou. Perhaps this is what Mr. Zatarain means by “certified Cajun”. But in the spirit of adventure (and not wanting to have to cook myself), I pressed on, prepared my portion of prepackaged prestidigitation, and despite my olfactory objections, took a bite. The first impression was not quite entirely awful (only in the way a colonoscopy might be described as not quite entirely awful) but I soon learned this was only because I had not yet given the flavor time to fully mature in my palate. As it did, I began to taste the subtle nuance of aged, imitation powdered cheese with a hint of onion, a kick of cayenne and an overtone of something which I can only describe as unapologetically ear-wax-esque. I held rather low expectations for this meal, and yet it somehow managed to excel in its complete disappointment. By the third bite, even the once lauded andouille was a searing, spicy mess of gastronomic garbage. And so was the end of my meal. Even my dogs whose diets include bugs, refuse and the occasional thing found in the cat box turned up their respective noses at the steaming heap of horror on our plates. So we did what had to be done, we disposed of the abominable repast and decided on a more mundane fare.
Our Ramen noodles were delightful.