Okay, confession time. Living on $9,000 isn’t always all I’ve jazzed it up to be. When times get tight, you end up having to scrimp on luxuries, particularly in the culinary department. As the adage goes, beggars can’t be choosers, and its through not being picky that I ended up with a Harvest Selections Italian Style Pasta Bake sitting in my pantry.
You see, about two months ago, I let a pair of friends crash in my living room for a week or two, in exchange for a few boxes of assorted groceries. I’m the sort of guy that’ll eat anything, especially if it’s free. Flash forward to the present, when a slew of unforeseen expenses meant I couldn’t buy my usual grocery staples for the month. So tonight I’m hunting an evening meal, what should I spy with my little eyes but perched upon the top shelf a Harvest Selections Italian Style Pasta Bake? Heat and eat in 90 seconds, the package proclaims, and being hungry now (and as mentioned earlier, not picky), I popped that sucker into the microwave and gave it a minute and a half of electromagnetic stimulation.
First, an observation. The package contradicts itself. It advertises that you can “heat and eat in 90 seconds,” but it also kindly suggests, as the third step in its handy 1-2-3 instructions, that you should let it set for 30 seconds after heating for 90 seconds, which — if Mrs. Watson’s third grade mathematics class taught me anything – comes out to a whopping 120 seconds between initiation of the heating process and imbibement.
Having awaited the proper duration, I gently peeled back the plastic covering to the glorious sight of what I can only describe as zombie guts, ringed with an appetizing crust of delicious brown. Somewhat concerned that Del Monte may have accidentally swapped my dinner for Jeffery Dahmer’s latest victim, I glanced once more at the package, reassuring myself that this was indeed the “pasta in a cheesy tomato sauce with ground beef” it claimed to be. Supposedly, this meal even includes 40% of my daily vegetables, so long as they come in varying shades of brown.
Bravely, I took a bite. And to tell you the truth, it wasn’t really all that bad, if you’re fond of rubberized brown cheese drizzled over brown slightly chewy noodles and blanded (I was going to use the word ‘spiced’ there, but this stuff doesn’t really have any flavor) with a sort of brown beef puree. Really, the best I can say for the product is that it’s quick and filling, and thirty minutes later my stomach hasn’t tried to put my left ventricle in a stranglehold, so I guess that’s a good thing.
I really have no idea what a package of Harvest Selections Italian Pasta Bake retails for, but hopefully it’s not very expensive; a 25 cent cup of ramen noodles is more appetizing and probably less likely to get you put on the FBI’s Most Wanted list on the off chance your neighbors notice you gorging yourself from the kitchen window.