Trader Joe's is really inexpensive. To be honest, it is at times somewhat frighteningly so. But we continue to shop there, mainly because of those low prices, their large wine selection, snappy packaging and generally friendly staff. It is a brand we've come to trust, without ever really stopping to figure out why. We go back no matter how crowded the parking lots become, and despite the knowledge that their dairy and produce seem to go bad a lot more quickly than they ought to. We continue to purchase their seafood, even though Greenpeace graded their seafood sustainability a solid F, below Target and Walmart
So why do we go back? Because it's cheap, and because it is convenient. Bachelors who would never be caught dead eating a Swanson fried fish stick dinner can be found perusing the TJ's frozen food section for ten minutes at a time, reading the descriptions on a package of steamer clams in garlic butter sauce. So in honor of mankind's odd relationship with Trader Joe's, the company which can apparently do no wrong, we present our list of the 5 Most Disgusting Items In The Trader Joe's Freezer Aisle.
5. French Cheese Soufflé
A cheese soufflé is a special thing, something which ought to be cherished, nurtured, and prepared lovingly. But this version, even on its own packaging, could find no better description than "nuggets of imported frozen French Emmental cheese soufflé." If you're eating these things, you had better do it around four in the morning while surrounded by the stench of stale beer and rotten bong water, about an hour after you thought it was a good idea to snort Sudafed.
4. Saucy Scallops with Mushrooms In An Emmental Cheese Sauce
Trader Joe's apparently believes that the way to compensate for foul sounding frozen goods is to add Emmental cheese. This is also another example of the sort of food that needs to be treated with care. An overcooked scallop is a shame. A rubbery, soggy, overcooked scallop may as well come with BP oil dipping sauce.
3. Reduced Guilt Filet of Sole with Butter Beans and Spinach Leaves
Fish can be fresh, then frozen with precision, and later defrosted in such a way that even those with trained palates would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with it. This, you should be able to tell, is not one of those situations. The argument for this product, we suppose, is "it's inexpensive, it's guilt free... so what if it tastes terrible." It also assumes that we only associate guilt with calorie intake, as opposed to the decimation of the aquatic wildlife population.
2. Cucumber Wonton Rolls
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There are three primary problems with this product, and they all involve cucumbers. First, anything that begins with a frozen cucumber, then at any point involves eating it, does not end well. Second, those fresh, crisp cucumbers pictured on the package are not included. The cucumbers in this dish are contained within the wonton, which leads us to our third problem. Who the hell wants to eat a hot cucumber?
1. Stuffed Salmon Belle Mer
Salmon Belle Mer, as far we can tell, exists only in the world of pre-packaged foods. It is a piece of salmon stuffed with long grain rice, bay shrimp, Monterey jack cheese and surimi crab meat. It almost sounds upscale, until you realize that surimi is a fancy way of saying "imitation," and that you should be institutionalized if you ever decided to eat a lump of cheesy seafood you found in the freezer.
Noah Galuten can be followed on Twitter via @ManBitesWorld.