Monday, October 01, 2012

New Product Thursday

Sept 20, 2012

Corn and Chile Tomato-Less Salsa. Bottles of this product, containing 13.75 oz. (390g) of salsa without a speck of tomato, are available at Trader Joe's. In case you don't get the point, the verbage on the bottle exclaims (in all caps) NOT ALL SALSAS ARE MADE WITH TOMATOES! "Popular recipes found throughout Mexico & the Tex-Mex border region contain everything but the tomato. [Everything?] We searched for a tomato-less salsa & found a unique recipe with corn, red bell peppers, onion & jalapeño peppers..."

Like I've said before, I like good product-label advertising blarney, and Trader Joe's produces some of the best. The text on the bottle implies that intrepid culinary explorers fanned out throughout Mexico, enduring heat and illness and long bus rides on bad roads to seek out cafés and taquerías and hovels whose tomato-less recipes might be right for Trader Joe's selection of novelties.

Whatever it says on the jar, I have to report that it's a good salsa. But the real reason for that isn't mentioned anywhere in the advertising on the jar, with its listing of corn, red bell peppers, onion & jalapeño peppers, which are nos. 1, 4, 3 and 5, respectively, on the ingredient list. Rather, it's the no. 2 ingredient that makes the salsa sing: sugar.

Downmarket from Trader Joe's, but controlled by the same obscure German billionaires, is Aldi. There you can buy Simply Nature brand Sweet Potato Corn Tortilla Chips. Or maybe it's Simply Nature All Natural Food brand. "Simply Nature" is in much larger text (36 pts, maybe), while "All Natural Food" is maybe 12 pts. So maybe Simply Nature is the headline and All Natural Food is the subhead, to put like a journalist would.

Anyway, it drives home the point that "Nature" and "Natural" on food labels are completely meaningless. This particular product contains corn -- let's assume they mean maize -- and sweet potatoes as ingredients nos. 1 and 2. In as much as I understand the history of maize, it was created by Indians through selective breeding of much less useful ancestor plants, and exists only because of human intervention. So from the get-go, corn is as natural as Hoover Dam.

Never mind, the chips are outrageously tasty. Good, as it happens, with Corn and Chile Tomato-Less Salsa, but also other species of salsa that sport crushed bits of red orbs.

One more thing, not a food item. Yuriko came home not long ago with Valerie Bertinelli brand measuring spoons. I didn't know the actress had any lines of cooking equipment, but I don't know a lot of things. Included are four spoons, 1/4 Tsp, 1/2 Tsp, 1 Tsp, and 1 Tbsp, or 1.25 ml, 2.5 ml, 5 ml, and 15 ml. Google, at least, tells us that 1 Tbsp = 14.7867648 ml, though I'm not sure where the search engine got that number. Seems close enough.

The spoons are stainless steel with blue silicone handles, and are strung together on a small steel triangle like keys on a triangular keychain. They seem like perfectly adequate measuring spoons. The tag has English and French on it -- my guess would be for export to Canada -- and a small picture of Ms. Bertinelli apparently at a picnic table, spooning colorful food (fruit?) from a larger bowl to a serving-sized bowl. She's wearing a bright yellow apron and, either because it's an old picture, or through the magic of modern photography, about 20 years seem to have been shaved off her appearance.

Yuriko didn't have the slightest idea who Valerie Bertinelli was. She was just looking for measuring spoons. But I noticed instantly. I think to fully appreciate Valerie Bertinelli's charms, it helps a lot to have been a 15-year-old boy in 1976 with access to American television.

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