Boring food, just as I hoped

When the Bugle staff consider blog topics regarding food, they typically look for exotic or superior products and experiences that might be rare on other continents.

Today, it’s time to recognize the countless products that emulate American favorites. The much-beloved hamburger is a great place to start. We’ll leave the much-disputed history of the hamburger to other information dispensaries. Instead, Will agreed to buy, cook and eat a microwaveable hamburger produced in the British Isles.

Rustlers is the name, and the microwave is its range. From plastic packaging to hot and tasty in seconds, it claims.

Hey, look at that! Complaints are directed to Finglas, not far from our old home in Dublin. Turns out, the Kepak Group is an Irish success story. But there’s no need for journalistic disclosure: I learned this after the taste-tasting, and I never ran into an employee of Kepak around town. (There’s a good chance that I ate a Kepak product at some point, though.)

Back to the burger. I have nothing against convenience food. It usually meets my low expectations. And it’s usually convenient.

On a cold and foggy day in Luxembourg, any warm food would do. What did I hope for? Something like a McDonald’s Hamburger, without having to venture outside my cozy apartment. This looks big enough for dinner. And despite being sold in a Belgian supermarket, it says, “Quarter Pounder” rather than “113.4 Grammer.” So I’m clearly the target market.

I was pleasantly surprised by the packaging of the cheese, which reminded me of the American-style individual wrappings.

Fake grill lines? Check. Disturbing evidence of mass production? Check. Zap it!

Well, the conveyor-belt marks are gone. Color unchanged. Light grease. Good aroma.

At this point, I confronted the most difficult choice a convenience-food-reviewer faces: sauce or no sauce? On one hand, the packaging screamed, “NEW SAUCE!” On the other hand, sauces designed for the British and European markets can be, let’s say, odd. To an American palate, at least.

“Damn the consequences,” I thought. “I’m going for cultural immersion!”

The finished product:

Cut in half, the expert’s method to evaluate taste and mouth-feel.

In the suggested microwave time, it cooked to just the right temperature.

Taste? It was everything I expected.

  • Pleasant enough.
  • Slightly soggy bun, and too much bun. No surprise there.
  • “Meaty” flavor, reminiscent of actual meat.
  • Inoffensive cheese, nicely complementing the somewhat dry burger

The sauce made the whole burger taste a lot like a McDonald’s hamburger. It’s like Kepak took the ketchup, mustard, and sad little pickles from that burger, pureed them in massive quantities, and packaged them in the ubiquitous little plastic tubes that are infuriatingly difficult to open.

Overall, I’d say that my Rustlers burger Achieved Expectations. A modest merit award for you, little guy!

The next day, I enjoyed a more traditional hamburger at the Marine House. One-hundred percent Grade A beef of American origin. No soy additives, real garnish and condiments. Not really in the same league at all.

But I had to leave the house and talk to people in order to get it.

4 Comments to “Boring food, just as I hoped”

  1. The Expatresse said...
    3 March 2011

    ” . . . reminiscent of actual meat . . .”


    Thanks for being our guinea pig. It’s a tough job, but someone really has to do it.

  2. Dave said...
    3 March 2011

    That thing is 43% beef. The label says so!

    Do you think they should change the “0 to Tasty in Seconds” to “0 to 0 and warm in seconds”?

    It looks just like a McDonalds Quarter Pounder. They got the look right.

  3. Sharon said...
    8 March 2011

    i love the food blogs!!! especially the last line
    Glad also that I was able to inform you that the Dr Oetker lives in the US as an import. It is very cool especially after having been to the actual plant, well sort of.

  4. Mike said...
    13 March 2011

    hi will!

    i’ve head a lot of talk about Marine House in Luxembourg, but never managed to find any information about it (location, “services”, …).

    do you have any pointers or information that you can share?