A very misleading chorizo package

Chorizo for cooking

I was casually browsing the aisles of deli meats yesterday, when my eyes noticed the “Discovered in Catalunya” sentence. I was like “wait, what?” 🤔

I was in a rush, so I did not look at the label in the package to find out if the producer is based in Catalunya. The product page in Waitrose’s website doesn’t specify where the product is coming from either.

The entire packaging is very misleading, and I have so many objections about it… exactly four.

ONE: the cured meats most commonly associated with Catalunya are not chorizo, but items such as botifarres, saltxitxes, or fuet.

Chorizo is something I’d associate with the west of Spain instead, i.e. the area adjacent to Portugal.

A quick look at the Spanish Wikipedia page for chorizo confirmed my hunch: this type of cured meat started when paprika was imported from America and established in La Vera, where it is still grown to date. (I mentioned using this type of paprika in my courghetti with tomato and onion sauce recipe).

The weather is ideal to produce chorizos, as it’s very dry and cold, and so the meat is cured nicely, and can be preserved for long, which was very important when people did not have fridges, let alone electricity.

Street in Candelario
Candelario is a town in Salamanca, famous for its cured meats

Some anecdotal evidence: when we visited our family in West Spain, we were treated to some heavy chorizo meat dishes (the chorizo mix, without the ‘skin’). We also had the chance to try out hornazo, which is a sort of cake filled with chorizo. You can see it’s truly a traditional product of the area. I’ve never seen anything like that in Catalunya!

TWO: you would not normally bake the chorizo, but grill it.

If you don’t have a grill or gridle, you would “fry” it in a pan. You normally don’t need to add oil because chorizo to cook has a lot of fat already, and it will melt with the heat.

THREE: YOU DO NOT ADD CHORIZO TO PAELLA.

Let me  repeat:

YOU DO NOT ADD CHORIZO TO PAELLA.

It’s gross, inadequate, disgusting, in bad taste, and also absolutely wrong, because paella is a dish of multiple subtle flavours. And chorizo is many things, but it is not “subtle”. The smokiness and fattiness of chorizo would take over the entire spectrum of flavours, and result in “chorizo with rice”. That is not paella.

FOUR: What is wrong with the way you cook chicken that makes you need to add chorizo to it?

I disagree that “chorizo is a must for chicken”. What happened to your taste buds? My only guess is that if you add chorizo to everything (as you seem to be trying really hard to do) you eventually have no taste buds left.

My advice is that you limit your chorizo cooking to what it is traditionally used: stews! migas! Etc.

And give your taste buds a break. You’ll thank me.

Allioli is not mayonnaise with garlic

Not real allioli

The Caterer from Hell strikes again, this time attempting to “cook” allioli.

Except they basically mashed industrial mayonnaise with garlic, and called it aioli, and they still went and slept at night instead of turning in bed every half an hour, haunted by the terrible horrors they had awakened.

Ingredients aside, the texture looks wrong, with all those lumps. It looks off. And it didn’t smell of garlic at all. Good allioli packs such a punch you can smell it from a distance.

  • Grossness level: 7/10. Why do they keep pretending they know what they are doing?
  • Offense amount: 8/10. It has mayonnaise. An AMERICAN mayonnaise. There’s nothing Spanish about this.
  • Would I give it a go? NO!!!!!!!!! I’d rather not get food poisoning, thank you very much.

The “Spanish omelette” that looked like a cheese tower

Deceptive "Spanish omelette"

A Certain Caterer (let’s leave the criminals unnamed) just does not get Spanish food, but insists in trying, often with terrible results.

I mean, just look at that.

I initially thought this was cheese. Like maybe red cheddar mixed with manchego? But why would they be displayed like this?, I wondered…

Well, because they are not cheese, but a “Spanish omelette”.

Except they seem to have missed the memo that said “omelettes are a dish of beaten eggs”. So there are just a few streaks of egg scattered around, instead of warmly hugging the potatoes in a snuggly embrace.

And the potatoes look desperately uncooked, more like they tried to bake them, so they could get a bunch of portions with just one tray, but gave up half way because it was taking too much time and they were late for the delivery, so they just took them out and served them raw. Who is going to notice, right?

And that’s how you end with this abomination 😱

  • Grossness level: 8/10. This is extremely disgusting.
  • Offense amount: High. You’re insulting such a Spanish staple with this subpar attempt.
  • Would I give it a go? NO. FREAKING. WAY. 🤐

“Aïoli” from Maille

I don’t know what caught my attention first: the diaeresis or the weird spelling. And then… basil? pepper? 🤔

If this is supposed to be allioli, it looked like whoever designed this had never had actual allioli, and had just been vaguely told about it by someone who had heard from someone else about a story a friend told them about the time they had this when they attended a barbecue in their holidays in Barcelona.

UPDATE: I have been told that “the English borrowed the French word” (here’s a whole lot of spellings and explanations about them).

So what is the problem with this? Allioli literally means “garlic and oil” in Catalan. (All = garlic, i = and, oli = oil). I have never seen anyone ever use anything other than olive oil to make this, and that is what you would think you’d find in this jar. But this is what you will find instead:

Rapeseed Oil (63%), Spirit Vinegar, Free Range egg Yolk (5.4%), Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Water, Garlic (2.2%), Salt, Dijon Mustard (1.5%) (Water, Brown Mustard Seeds, Spirit Vinegar, Salt, Preservative (Potassium Metabisulphite), Acid (Citric Acid)), Garlic Powder, Modified Maize Starch, Acids (Citric Acid, Lactic Acid), Black Pepper (0.3%), Maize Starch, Flavourings, Thickeners (Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum), Basil (0.05%), Colour (Carotenes)

I want to point out that rapeseed (!) oil is 63% of this, and Garlic a mere 2.2%. There’s more egg than garlic. There’s almost as much mustard as there’s garlic. By those parameters, this should be called eggoli!

In their defense (and I’m being extremely forgiving), binding garlic with oil is incredibly difficult. There are all sorts of esoteric advice and superstitions that people swear will result in that most priced of outcomes: a thick allioli that won’t fall if you tip the mortar upside down.

For example: using just a mortar and pestle (NO blender), or adding the oil without looking at the mortar (needs two people for this). So if you want to package this and get it to have some shelf life, evidently something has to be added. But… all of that? Gross.

Let’s try another line of defense: maybe they’re a French maker and they’re doing this the French way, but I refuse to accept the French would accept this grossness. NOPE.

  • Grossness level: 7/10. If you serve this to me, I will probably not talk to you in a long time.
  • Offense amount: I’d say I feel more repulsed than offended.
  • Would I give it a go? No way.