Apocalypse Yum is a new review column from San Francisco artist and contributing author Bryson DeJong. Feel free to leave any questions or suggestions in the comments below!
Ameriqual MRE Menu 23: Chicken with Pasta in Pesto Sauce
Wheat Snack Bread and Cheese Spread With Bacon:
Smell: The snack bread smells like the lovechild of packing material and a carpet sample. I can’t place much in the way of wheat overtones; this one is weird. The cheese spread smells of bacon. Not as good as fresh sizzling bacon, but more like that fakey artificial bacon smell that’s all over gum and air fresheners these days.
Taste: The bread is pleasantly spongy and shaped like a slice of toast. This little touch creates the illusion that you’re eating something fresh that hasn’t been in a bag for 3 years. The desiccant packet smashed into the bottom of the bread, however, destroys any misconceptions that this isn’t some over processed nightmare food. The cheese spread is overtly buttery to the point of nearly sliding off the tongue. The first impression I got was of Cheez Whiz. But moments later the aftertaste betrayed this spread as having a much darker lineage. Usually not one to leave food to waste, I threw out the remainder of this pairing hoping for better things to come.
Author’s note: After a whole hour I finally had to eat something else to get this filthy taste out of my mouth.
Smell: The smell of this one is an overly sugary fruit cocktail with just a hint of cheap chardonnay. If you had enough of these you could make a sweet toilet wine.
Taste: I feel like I’ve had canned pears before, the texture is right. The taste is right. Basically, if you’ve had canned pears at any point in your life, you’ve had this. The only standout here is the tiny little pieces they’ve managed to cut the fruit into before cramming it in the bag. They are just as small as I imagine you could make them before it becomes puree.
Chicken Pesto Pasta:
Smell: Yum. This pouch opens to the delicious smell of a hot pesto sandwich. Notes of basil and garlic pervade the senses.
Taste: The first bite is pure magic, but I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I finally followed the directions on the box for proper heating; this one’s piping hot out of the bag. Menu 23’s entree comes with big chunks of white chicken, little noodles and lots of chunky sauce. The taste is muddled as the more delicate notes of pesto don’t take well to processing, but all the major characters are here. I wouldn’t call this fine dining by any means, but I’m hungry, so who cares?
Chocolate Pudding Dessert Powder:
Smell: I don’t think pudding should have a smell. This one smells vaguely like hot chocolate. I guess that’s ok.
Taste: I’ve had pudding before. It’s smooth and creamy and doesn’t have lumps in it. This has an off jiggle on the spoon; I blame the modified food starch that’s number 3 on the ingredients list. I prepared this with hot water and I think allowing it to cool may have been a mistake. I can see this being a bit of variety and a rare treat to those who might be forced to down this slop 3 times a day. But for the casual tourist, it might just be too weird to stomach.
Overall Impression: This may be the best MRE I’ve tested so far, or the worst, depending on how you like your life experiences. I’m a fan of wild fluctuations in mood, so I like the way the pudding abomination counterpointed the chicken pesto. And while I might have PTSD from eating the cheese spread, I might start stockpiling canned pears just for nostalgia’s sake.
In Closing: If your idea of a fulfilling experience is everything being nice and pleasant then maybe Menu 23 isn’t for you. But, if you like your survival food a little more esoteric, then I recommend buying these by the case.