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 14: Spicy Penne Pasta Vegetarian

Penne Pasta with Vegetable Crumbles in Spicy Tomato Sauce:

Smell: I decided to eat this one cold, so I expected the aroma to be a little muted. But, MRE Menu 14 packs a wallop of spicy Italian smells, you’d swear you were in New Jersey. There is little room for doubt with this one.

Taste: The first thing I noticed is that this package opens longways. While other MRE’s I’ve tried opened short ways, this one offers a better vantage for really getting into the bag. The provided brown spoon is stout enough to kill a man with, but not so nimble that you can really get into the corners for that last tasty morsel. And this MRE is full of tasty morsels. The ingredient list marks them as “vegetable crumbles” or “textured vegetable protein” and they are everywhere. I keep sucking the sage flavored bits from between my teeth even as I write this. The other stand out is fennel, which seems to pervade the whole experience. Long time readers will remember my disdain for fennel as the go-to Italian spice of lazy food processors everywhere. It seems Ameriqual Foods is no exception to this dismal trend. In an interesting side note, by some feat of magic, the pasta in this MRE is cooked to perfection. Manufactured three years ago and it maintains both a satisfying bite and a dutiful chew.

Beverage Base Powder – Lemon-Lime:

Smell: Not much smell to speak of. I detect a whiff of citric acid, which the ingredient list notes is “to add tartness.”

Taste: First off, nothing in nature is this color. This drink is the same shade as a child’s water pistol, it’s inhuman. It looks so much like high-lighter fluid, I hit it with a UV light just to see if it would glow in the dark. Sadly it does not. Inexplicably, it is also almost flavorless. The aforementioned citric acid is present, but makes a meager showing. The taste is completely outpaced by the appearance. It’s not until I burp a little up that there is even a hint of “genuine” lemon-lime flavor.

Cranberries, Osmotic:

Smell: I don’t know why, but these remind me of a county fair. They are sweet and dry smelling, slightly tart in a way I associate with alfalfa that’s been left out in the sun. Make of that what you will.

Taste: I love cranberries. It took some digging on the interwebs to find out what “osmotic” meant with regards to dried fruit. It seems they’ve invented a rather involved process that takes delicious cranberries and turns them into mealy crap. Imagine cranberry smarties, if smarties had any flavor besides sugar, then make them disgusting.

Overall Impression: The MRE finds itself again a pleasantly stable pantry staple for the coming undead armageddon. A little math shows this menu selection being on the lighter end of the calorie spectrum, making it a suitable for when you’re sheltering in place and not running for your life.

In Closing: I’m really enjoying the sharing of these reviews with the ZRS community. In the coming weeks stay tuned for a variety of other, easy to stock, preparedness food reviews. If you have something you’d like reviewed, just leave a comment.

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