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Restaurants & Bars 12

notes from a modestly injured man

Thi N. | Oct 25, 200305:07 PM

First: I am recovering from a set of back and wrist injuries that leaves me unable to walk far or drive much, and which completely prohibits me from cooking for myself.

Second: There is a beautiful passage from a John Thorne book about his attitude towards wine. I can't quite remember the exact details, but the gist of it is something like this: some people come to wine late. They can appreciate it, they can enjoy its heights, but they won't love wine, all wine. They'll never love cheap wine. And then some people grew up having a glass of wine with every meal - and these people need wine. And they are capable of appreciating - probably appreciate most thoroughly - a heavenly, perfect wine. But, they just need wine. And when nothing else is available, they'll take to pretty skanky, rough merchandise, as long as there's a bit of wine on the table every night.

Which is all preamble, to explain why I am about to go on the record as recommending Trader Joe's frozen Oven Ready Breaded Cod Fillets.

They aren't glorious. They aren't even that good. But, goddammit, they are clearly and edibly fish, which is quite unusual in the realm of frozen food, and, while not exactly Water Grill or Green Village territory, a completely different sort of achievement, really quite substantial, that I am, in my present state, very willing to applaud.

I grew up with frozen fish sticks. Frozen fish sticks are kinda neat. They're crunchy on the outside, kinda juicy on the inside, but they don't really taste that much like fish. The TJ's breaded cod fillets (different from their frozen fried cod fillets) are clearly hunks of unprocessed cod - large pieces of flakey cod meat, whole, un-machine-minced pieces of fish that, not only tastes like actual fish, but is distinctly *cod*.

Which is enough, in my present state, to keep me from getting depressed when I have dinner.

It's sort of the difference between a cardboard box wine (standard supermarket frozen fish) and one of those cheap Chianti's that is rude and crude, but genuinely wine - for when the need for *wine* is stronger than the need for something good.

Other frozen food items I have discovered as edible:

Trader Joe's Crinkle Kut fries. Amy's innovation: douse them with cayenne pepper before baking. Charmingly, bakes at the same temperature and time as the cod fillets.

Trader Giotti's Four Cheese Pizza. Thank you to the chowhounds who recommended this. A1.

Costco's panda-picture Chinese dumplings. Not rank at all.

and the Dr. Praeger's veggieburgers - these are so good they deserve their own post.

And that Marie Callender's recent innovations in pot-pie freezing technology make it possible to microwave a pot-pie into a semblance oven-crispiness. There's some kind of magic grid in the box. It works.

And, most satisfyingly, thanks to a suggestion from someone on the board, I have found that the La Indiana tamales I fetishize freeze quite well. Amy's discovery: reheat them on 1/2 power in a plastic bag, to preserve moistness.


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