I settled on Pie-apalooza, primarily because the other options were less appealing. Pie-tastrophe, for instance, sounded a bit more dire than the subject warranted. Pie-Circus was just a bad idea all around, of which we will never speak again.
So, one night, for some convoluted and now largely forgotten reason, we got to reminiscing about TV dinners back in the Sixties, which is a whole ‘nother subject, and then kept traveling down that road till we got to the topic of frozen pot pies.
During Mary’s childhood, her mother was on a natural health food kick, but one where the rules constantly changed, depending on what wild theory of nutrition was currently in vogue in and among her circle. Rules like, no citrus with dairy this week, white sugar is white death next week. When you eliminate ingredients like sugar, white flour, dairy and the like, couple it with really not-good cooking ideas, like baking fish for an hour, minimum, you’re left with, well some pretty unappetizing options. So when Mary got a frozen chicken pot pie, she loved it!
I, on the other hand, was raised in a household where dishes that could have graced the tables of Escoffier and Julia Childs were the norm. My mother believed that there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be improved through the application of copious quantities of butter. But she was raising five children, so some days, when there wasn’t enough time for making a Béarnaise from scratch, she would (reluctantly, I am convinced in my heart of hearts) settle for TV dinners and frozen pot pies. Considering the state of frozen processed foodstuffs in the Sixties, which was a very small step up from eating C-rations, I wasn’t a happy camper when a chicken pot pie was set before me.
Our differing remembrances of chicken pot pies past, led to a decision to conduct a taste test of the current frozen food offerings. Plus, it was Saturday night, and we didn’t have any other plans. I don’t know what other families are like, but when we get bored we resort to experimentation to pass the time. Which brings us to today, where I have the results of this latest advancement in the sum of human knowledge.
Yes, I am aware that I have two different sizes of Stouffers Chicken Pot Pies but in my defense, I wasn’t paying that much attention when I bought them. Different sizes obviously means different products right? I didn’t say it was a good defense, it’s just the only one I have. I wanted a Banquet Pot Pie because it was Mary’s contention that both the Stouffer and Marie Callender pies were really quite fancy compared to what we ate as children. Banquet (The Low End Choice of People on a Budget) was what we thought would be closest to what we remembered. But the only pie in the freezer was a beef pie, which I remembered as being particularly repulsive and Mary agreed. Still it was all they had, and we had a gaping hole in our Saturday schedule to fill.
The Stouffer’s pies in various sizes, tasted, amazingly, exactly the same. Thank god for American processed food mass production systems. There wasn’t a lot to choose between the Marie Callender and Stouffer’s pies. If Mary had to choose, she’d probably prefer the Stouffers crust and the Marie Callender’s filling. If I had to choose, I’d prefer to have another gin and tonic.
The beef pie tasted like it cost $.87, which is providential, because it cost exactly that. I hesitate to use the word ‘awful’, well, not normally, but in this case I don’t think it’s truly warranted. There’s a lot of ‘beef gravy’, a minimal amount of actual meat, and what there was, did not appear to be a cut from something that you would normally find at the meat counter at the grocery store. This was the closest product to what I remember from my childhood. Overall, the chicken pot pies are better than I remember, and I have to assume it’s because the production companies have amped up their offerings as Americans get a little more sophisticated about food. I’d probably be willing to eat another one of these pies in the future if I were stuck somewhere were I had access to an oven and the majority of the offerings in the immediate neighborhood were of the McDonald’s ilk.
The beef pie, well, I don’t see myself eating another one of these in my lifetime, unless there were a zombie apocalypse and I found myself trapped in a freezer truck that contained nothing but Banquet beef pies and a microwave. And a power source, and a light so I could see what I was doing. And something to read besides the packaging of the beef pies. And even then I’d probably go ahead and go outside and let the zombies chow down.