Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The allure of Trader Joe's (ode to mini-chicken tacos)

When I first moved to Jersey City, I knew that the local supermarkets left much to be desired. I heard that some people traveled to Whole Foods (about a 25 minute trip) or to Trader Joe's, a bit further, to do their shopping. Since I don't have a car I couldn't get to either of those places on a regular basis so I was delighted when friends with cars expressed interest in schlepping me and my boy along on an excursion to Trader Joe's.

The first time I went there, I wasn't bowled over though I did manage to find some decent items. Friends explained that I simply hadn't discovered the true treasures..which could have been true since the actual shopping part was somewhat rushed. With two toddlers racing up and down the aisles, I didn't really have the time to inspect all that T.J's had to offer. So I went back a second time and this time, I was hooked. Organic maple syrup, avocados and kiwis for super cheap. Giant logs of goat cheese for the price of one button elsewhere and Niman Ranch Bacon at half the price I would pay in the city. Not to mention a nice selection of jams, teas,chocolates and wine (an array of decent bottles for $8 and under). Granted the produce department is rather small and the meats and breads leave something to be desired but many of the packaged and frozen goods are stellar. In the past I have never been known to purchase any jarred sauces but the call of the Moroccan simmer sauce and green salsa proved too hard to resist, especially after my friend D., touted their virtues. Her T.J. recommendations have sent me on a a downward spiral, from a few jars of sauces to today's purchase of frozen mini-tacos. Actually I had purchased the tacos for her because they are her go-to dish for her child who is on a special gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free diet which is difficult enough without adding organic, local and other criteria to the mix so I try not to judge and carry on. Though I admittedly look at some of the suspicious ingredients on the label such as maltodextrin and have to wince a moment.

In any event, we found ourselves indoors on this snowy winter's day, school closed, streets slick with ice, wondering what to feed ourselves and our boys for lunch. She had actually brought lunch for her boy. Mine had his lunch ready too since I had packed it this morning, thinking school was open. So the boys were set.

So the question remained, what should we eat. Although I had just been to T.J's yesterday I had nothing particularly exciting to offer, no fresh bread, great cheese or other tidbit. This is the inexplicable thing about T.J's, it provides me with wonderously cheap jars of olive tapenade, bourbon vanilla extract, and fabulous smelling handsoaps and a myriad of other things that add enormously to my larder yet these items must be supplemented with REAL food from elsewhere, such as greenmarket bread, cheeses, meats etc. which I didn't have on hand. What I did have, however, were the two boxes of mini-chicken tacos which I had in the freezer, ready to hand off to D. on her way out. Against my better judgement, terrible hostess that I was, I suggested that I serve us some of D's very own tacos, oh the horror! And she agreed.

When I smelled them in the oven I had a feeling it was all over. Maltodextrin and dextrose aside, those mini-chicken tacos are pretty darn tasty for a frozen food item. Crispy, chewy on the outside, creamy slightly spiced on the inside. D., how could you do this to me?? They almost taste REAL.!

The question is, will I feed them to my boy or just horde them? He is probably allergic to some unsavory ingredient in them anyway so better that I keep them all to myself..or share some with my husband if he is lucky.

No comments: