But once Sandy and I started spending some QT together, one of the first things I learned was, girl loves her black beans. Loves. That might not be strong enough of a word. Any way she can eat them, she will and be on Cloud 9. Black bean burgers, omelets, quesadillas with corn too, beans and rice with chorizo, bean chips, pizza, brownies...the only thing she won't touch with black beans is my homemade chili. She has no idea what she's missing. I've quickly learned to really enjoy them, too and I'd say they're now considered a definite staple of our diet, and I don't mind that one bit. They're good, wholesome, tasty, and satisfying. Both Sandy and I like hot and spicy fare as well (I can stand hotter and spicier, but she has a pretty boffo palate, especially for a girl), so hot and spicy, black bean based dishes are almost always a hit for us.
Which is exactly why TJ's Fat Free Spicy Black Bean Dip is so incredibly disappointing. If TJ's dips and salsas were Jennifer Lopez, this would be her "Gigli." If it were Sean Connery, this would be George Lazenby. If it were a basketball team, it would definitely be this year's Miami Heat...sans the heat, that is. And what talents Lebron James may or may not have brought.
Hate to do it, but I have to call out the pepper spice-o-meter on the label on this one. It's about 2/3 full, so I was expecting it to be at least somewhat spicy. Well, the dip is 2/3 full...of vinegar. Once again, Trader Joe's, VINEGAR ≠ SPICE. No no no no no no no. I took a bite tonight and immediately made the bitter beer face the instant this assaulted my taste buds. Ugh. It was if someone condensed all the flavor from a bag of salt and vinegar chips, ground it down and dumped it into the one corner I lifted with my tortilla chip. Each successive bite wasn't much better except I was able to brace myself better and not stomp as much. Maybe that's your kind of thing. For me, heck no. To be honest, by now, I so distrust that pepper pictogram and believe it is so full of lies and deceit I expect it to run for office any day now, or at least call me about a credit card offer.
That's all you taste, the vinegar. Nothing else. TJ's might as well have marketed this under dark vinegar hummus-y matter. Sandy, who likes it marginally more than I do, wholeheartedly agrees. "I wish it actually tasted like black beans or was actually spicy," she said. I concur. I look at the ingredients label and wonder where all the other stuff is - Onions? Jalapeños? Bueller? - it's indiscernible in this horrid mix of blahness. I took several tastes of it trying to figure out if there was any other aspect to the flavor but there's absolutely none. It's just nasty, not the nastiest thing I've ever had from Trader Joe's, but not too far off either.
Like I said, though, the love of my life also loves her black beans madly, and like she has to do with me from time to time, I think she affords the black bean dip a certain level of grace. She gave it a two despite her misgivings...then again, she loves salt and vinegar chips, too, but this is a low, low grade for her with anything involving black beans as a primary ingredient. I have to go lower. I originally thought one, to give it some of the doubt, but seriously considered a zero too. I think something has to be truly epically bad to be given a zero, though, and this falls just short of that criterion. Half a star from me. Hate to be harsh, but have to call it as I see it.
Bottom line: 2.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons