Don’t @ me.
I’ve never been shy about my love for a good frozen meal. I can frequently be heard touting the underrated value of Marie Callender, and I think Lean Cuisine’s spaghetti and meat sauce can hold its own against the best of them. But my heart belongs to Zatarain’s.
When I started research for this love letter—I mean, article—I was absolutely stunned to read the overwhelmingly negative reviews for Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice with Sausage. They’re not just bad, they’re terrible.
Two people claimed that it was “the worst frozen meal” they’d ever tasted, while another swore off Zatarain’s products completely after taking one bite.
Here is my response:
First of all, Zatarain’s extremist, that is insane. Not liking one thing from a line that makes many, many things does not justify the repudiation of the entire line.
Second of all, what are these people eating? Because it’s clearly not my beloved red beans and rice.
WATCH: How to Make Instant Pot Gumbo
My red beans and rice is spicy, smoky, and rich. It’s a New Orleans-style dish with tender beans and flavorful sausage. Zatarain’s is heavy-handed with the paprika, which is an absolute must for truly legit red beans and rice. They don’t skimp on celery, either. If you know anything about Cajun cuisine, you know that celery is the unsung hero of most traditional dishes. Some people (i.e. posers) will try to get by with just onions and bell peppers. This is inauthentic, wrong, and a surefire way to lose me as a friend.
In summation, Zatarain’s is basically the best thing that ever happened to frozen food and this is the hill I will die on.
Zatarain’s has other frozen Cajun favorites—gumbo, jambalaya, and dirty rice—and they’re all tasty. Definitely far superior to most meals you’ll find in the frozen foods aisle. Trust me: If I’m an authority on anything, it’s this.
But nothing beats the best.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.