I have been asleep all winter. I realised this last night, while making dinner. But much like in the film Inception, it was when I was aware that I was dreaming that the dream began to come apart. The kick for me was not a cold-water bath. Neither was it being dropped down an elevator shaft. These would have been preferable for what has caused me to wake up and return to the world of NOM NOMS is some freakish rendition of French Cuisine.
Ratatouille, at least according to Larousse Gastronomique, is: a vegetable stew typical of Provençal cookery, originally form Nice, which is now found all over south east France and is popular abroad. The word is derived from the French touiller (to mix or stir), at first designated an unappetizing stew.
Tesco sell an own brand canned Ratatouille, which costs about a Euro and is really quite good. The down side is that any Tesco I have visited seem to get one delivery of it every 6 months. The up side is it tastes like THIS.
At this juncture I should talk about the earthy complexities of the dish. I really should also be addressing the differing opinions of preparation. The array of presentation available, the choice of secondary accompaniments, and the meat or fish debate will not be touched upon either.
No, what I wish to talk about today was one of the greatest offenses to me by the French since the Edict of Fontainebleau.
I purchased Epicure's Ratatouille Nicoise for myself considering one to be a person quite familiar with the otherwise fine range of canned products by this company I was, to put it with reference to the opening paragraph, shook awake from as if from some gastronomic dream.
I poured the contents from this can to heat and to be eaten with Bunalun wholegrain spaghetti (outstanding BTW) but I wondered at its dark syrupy constitution.
This apparition of food was not like the bright colored and chunky Tesco version of the same product, this was more akin to a vision of my toilet bowl after a long afternoon/night out at about 5am when I have concluded the only way to stop the room spinning is to expel the matter from within my stomach.
And it tasted the same.
Once upon a Tuesday, if I recall correctly, I was somewhere past Badwater, Death Valley National Park, when my companions and I decided to stop the car and go for a walk around the desert flats. I remember quite fondly staring at the cracked and crystalline earth for an extended period of time. This burnt landscape was something of a personal fascination of mine ever since childhood. And while I stood there in the 40-degree heat down in this expansive valley I couldn’t help myself but to think, “what does it taste like”.
Hunkered down under the unforgiving sun, my tongue snuffling the clints and grikes of the baked soil as if possessed by some truffle pig I was reminded by a colleague that these sands are quite radioactive for we stood not a few miles from testing grounds for various atomic weaponry. I pretended not to hear, squatted as I was in the barren wasteland sucking the salt from my teeth when an F-16e flew not 5cm over our heads.
If I could liquidize the taste of you face down in radioactive desert salt flats while an F-16e flies right over your head, it would taste like Epicure’s Ratatouille.
That is not a good thing.
This was fucking terrible.
The desert tasted better.
In-fact this tasted like my mouth about 5.34am when I am still awake after the aforementioned 5am puke.
It was if they had made some perfectly fine food and threw in as much maize starch and salt as they could find. The whole fucking village in Andover, Hampshire must have had to come together to stuff this much fermentation into the can.
I fear this must be the crux of the problem. The producers may have wanted to get as close to the sautéed variant of the original dish, but the constraints of delivery of the product in can form they were forced to add an unfavorable amount of preservative. This has created some horrific mass, a dire salted sludge, devoid of texture, abandoned by flavor, emitting a stench that possessed all the pleasure of a yeast infection.
I do not understand how Tesco can produce such a great (and by this I mean okay) product, under there own brand, while Epicure, and otherwise respected brand, can produce such a reduction of diarrheic vomit.
To sum it up, as far as taste, this was worse than Breakfast in a Can.
Do not buy this.
No fucking stars.