Before coming to uni I took a private vow to never really get into the whole ‘microwave meal’ thing. Not because of the preconceived notion that they’ll radiate me through and through until my balls drop off, but instead, like most well-reared country folk, I left home with a basic tenant on how to prepare a moderately tasty, at least edible, dish.
Now, I couldn’t pull off the swag the likes of Mario Batali prance about and nor could I make a banana seem so much more than ‘just a banana’ as Nigella does when she peels it. More like Zak Dingle bubbling up chowder on the aga. In a string vest. But you get my point.
However, we’ve all been there; we all know the feeling of after a long day wanting nothing more than to grab a dewy beer from the fridge, sit down in front of the TV and eat a meal that didn’t take eight-thousand minutes to prepare and only four to eat. So after a day of lectures and the freshers’ flu starting to take firm hold on my tonsils with an ice-pick, I too wanted just that.
And boy, never had a Heinz Beef Stew & Dumplings microwave soup seemed so appealing. On first impressions, like most microwave meals, you see the photo on the front, and even though you know it won’t look nor taste like said photo, there’s a whisper in your head that prays this one will be laced with the magic serum that causes your taste buds to explode in a mouthgasm of traditional flavours and tantalizing textures. Alas, this was a bona fide m’meal. Removal of the outer lid exposed the transparent cellophane, below which lay what can only be described as a beef* and potato explosion with the consistency of the jelly found in Miley Cyrus’ legs. Indeed, upon upending, the Miley Cyrus leg-paste defied all principles of science by resisting gravity in a congealed heap of shit. This was encouraging.
On peeling back the cellophane cover, first notes were the potent stench of cold gravy wafting out the kitchen. I never thought the extractor hood would be required in conjunction with the microwave. But the rumble in my stomach encouraged me to remain optimistic. After nuking for 3 minutes, ‘dinner’ was served. Now here comes the hard bit. I’ve sat here for the last 5 minutes trying to think of a comical way to relay the experience of my m’meal, and truth be told, it can’t be done. There’s nothing funny about what happened to my taste buds tonight. It was, in essence, a pot of scolding hot gravy with the odd chewy potato. From a marketing point-of-view, advertising it as ‘beef stew’ was really false economy.
Now I’m not being a pedant; at £2 a pop I wasn’t expecting Dionysus’ personal stash. But I still feel a bit cheated over this apparently constituting human, and worst still, student food. I’d think twice about feeding it to my dog. Or Piers Morgan.
On reflection then, is it easier? Definitely. Was it cheaper? Probably. Can I now shit through the eye of a needle? I’m currently putting Mark Renton to shame. And yes it was in and out in 3 minutes flat. But no thanks love, I’d rather stick to doing it myself.
(NB: In the off-chance that anyone from Heinz reads the Wessex Scene, before you think of suing me, here’s a free promo: your baked beans are top shelf.)
*Term used loosely in this respect.