This past week, our household has been chaotic to say the least. We generally like to share a bit of our lives with you here on this blog—to mix a personal story or two in with our thoughts about whatever Trader Joe's foods we're eating. At this juncture, we're just not ready to get into specifics, but I will mention that there have been some truly wonderful, life-altering changes with us recently, as well as some terrible tragedies. They've affected our whole family, but none more than my dear wife. It's remarkable how when the tides of change are churning and this crazy world's got you on your knees, a simple song or film or photograph can generate a transcendent moment. Food can do that sometimes, too.
I'll just put it this way: Sonia is madly in love with this product. This is one of her favorite fall foods ever, which puts it high in the running for her favorite thing ever. She gobbled up her share of the soup swiftly, remarking "wonderful," "fabulous," and "amazing" as she ate. Haven't seen her this enthralled with a product in a very, very long time. She had been understandably surly and sullen just moments before, but this chili got her right real quick. She even closed her eyes, smiled, and hugged herself as if in some euphoric dreamland, punch-drunk on squash, pumpkin, and black beans, much like the dude who put the label on our tub apparently was at the moment of application. She even liked this stuff cold.
Me? I see where the wifey is coming from, and I like it, but I'm not quite as enthralled. This might be the least chili-ish chili I've ever had. It's more of a "chunky harvest squash soup" if you ask me. Chili spices? Yeah, I guess they're in there, but they're not very dominant—I wouldn't have minded a significant boost in the heat department. Also, there's not enough beans to be chili, if you ask me. I wish there were some traditional kidney beans in there. On the plus side, there isn't a whole lot of tomato flavor. There are diced tomatoes, but most of their essence gets lost in the mix. Never been big into the taste of actual tomatoes. The dominant tastes and textures here are those of squash, cauliflower, and quinoa—and a nice peppery, garlicky broth. It's certainly unique—not particularly chili-esque, but thick and tasty nonetheless.
$4.49 for a decent size tub. Plenty for both of us, either as a side dish or the main course. Five stars and several emotional tears from Sonia. Three and a half stars from me.
Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.