Posted July 24, 2007 by Robert in Reviews

Review: Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus (Hot)

Please welcome Robert to the HSB with his first review! Another PA based reviewer, Robert brings a wealth of legal knowledge to the chilehead world (lawyer) and it’s great to see a review done on something other then a sauce. Welcome to the HSB Robert!

Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus

Much the way Christopher Columbus discovered America, or Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, I recently discovered Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus, quite by accident. Also, like Columbus and Fleming, I didn’t so much “discover” Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus as I happened to come across something that already been in existence for some time, and introduced it to the rest of the world. Will the fifth grade history textbooks of future generations hold me in as esteemed regard as my fellow pioneers? Time will tell, but if so, here is the legend that your great-great-grandchildren might one day read about me.

It all began, appropriately, on a Monday. The first day of a brand-new week, a day full of wonder and possibility. Also, garbage day. After several weeks of heated, emotionally-charged debate, my wife finally convinced me to get rid of Ol’ Gray, the cracked, sagging, moldy old plastic garbage can that had served us so ably over the last eight years, a can which followed us through three separate moves, standing quiet sentinel beside our home, never once complaining about the harsh winters, brutal summers, car bumpers, kids, cats and occasional bear attacks that regularly tested its resilience. Alas, the collective brunt of these beatings had taken their toll, and admittedly, it was starting to smell really funky. So with a leaden heart, I dragged Ol’ Gray out to the end of the driveway one last time and wrote “TAKE ME” in large block letters on its side with a Sharpie. But, as I came to learn, and everyone who has ever tried to throw away a garbage can already knows, it’s a fool’s errand. Garbage men don’t take garbage cans. It’s embedded in their DNA: take away the trash; leave the can. So when I came home from work that afternoon, the garbage can remained. But so too did my wife’s mandate. I was in a quandary.

First things first. Cut to later that evening, shopping at Big Lots for a good deal on a new garbage can, while still pondering how to get rid of the old one. Melt it? Cut it into strips and stuff it into the new can? Lost in thought, wandering up and down the aisles and aisles of quality discount merchandise, my eyes suddenly fell upon it. Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus. Did I see that right? I couldn’t look away. I took a step closer. I was intrigued, but at the same time, vaguely repulsed. Why? I couldn’t say. I like asparagus. I like pickles too. And I absolutely love hot stuff. But somehow, in my mind, I couldn’t imagine those pungent flavors playing nice with a prim, proper, mild-mannered vegetable like asparagus. It was like going to the zoo and seeing a sign for an exhibit titled “Lions and Rabbits”, or Wang Chung opening for Linkin Park. I picked up one of the jars to take a closer look, just trying to imagine the flavor of this culinary Frankenstein, when I spotted the huge garlic clove at the bottom.

Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus

My concerns were not completely allayed, but now I was sold. It was the garlic that did it. I do have willpower. I can say no to a lot of things, but I just can’t say no to garlic.

I promptly took my jar of Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus to the checkout, along with a pair of $3.99 generic superbass headphones for my MP3 player. Turns out, Big Lots doesn’t carry garbage cans. But never mind. I bought one at Home Depot the next day, and her dad took the old one to use in his garage. She’s okay with that. Go figure. But this story isn’t about garbage cans. It’s about Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus.

It’s 9:30 p.m. Standing in the kitchen, just me and my Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus. I’m bursting with the giddy anticipation of tasting something new for the very first time, although once I took the jar out of the bag and glanced over the ingredients, my initial expectations formed by the words “Hot” and “Spicy” took a sudden nosedive. This is what I read:

Ingredients:Asparagus, water, vinegar, salt, sugar, spices, garlic, and crushed red chili.

But I resolved to keep an open mind. After all, I’ve read the ingredients on the Wendy’s Hot Chili Sauce packets, and there’s nothing inherently hot in there either, but for some unknown, and possibly unknowable, reason it does have a little kick, so similarly, I reason that maybe””just maybe””hiding anonymously behind that generic catch-all ingredient, “spices”, is some punchy, bold food additive that will bump the heat quotient so far beyond that “crushed red chili” mark (which arguably qualifies it as “Spicy”) that it wholly justifies the addition of the little yellow triangle with the word “Hot” on the label as well. Opening the jar, I think, I could still be surprised by this.

Alas, I was not surprised. The aroma. The aroma”¦ well, words fail me. Wait, no they don’t. It smells like a jar of pickles. I take a tentative first bite. It tastes like a pickle. Not bad, mind you, but just your garden variety, run-of-the-mill pickle. Except it’s an asparagus stalk.

Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus

Another bite. Pickle. I take a sip of beer. I close my eyes, focus my mind, clear my palate, and resolve to really concentrate on the taste. Is there some complexity of flavor that I missed the first time? Does it even taste like asparagus? Well, if you think really hard about it, dress yourself up in a giant asparagus costume, stare at a picture of asparagus and say the word “asparagus” aloud over and over while you’re chewing, you can faintly detect a taste far off in the distance which suggests that you might have licked a piece of asparagus a half hour ago or so, and now you’re eating a pickle. Really and truly, it just tastes like a pickle. Also, the texture was surprisingly firm and crisp. Like a pickle.

Was it hot? Well, no. Was it spicy? There was a slight tingle in the back of my throat afterward from the crushed red chilis, so yes, I’ll grudgingly give them spicy. But not hot, no how, no way. The rest of the ingredients were readily detectable as regular pickling spices. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus, I just don’t think there’s any getting around the fact that when you pickle something, cauliflower, watermelon rinds, what have you, they come out tasting like pickles. In fact, I’m starting to think that if you soaked a steering wheel in pickling spices for long enough, it would come out tasting just like a pickle.

So there you have it. Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus. They are what they say they are (except hot). Personally, if I want a pickle, I would prefer an actual pickle, but Princess Pickled Spicy Asparagus is not a bad substitute, in the sort of way that my grandma used to make mock apple pie with Ritz Crackers, even though it would have been cheaper and easier to use actual apples. (By the way, did anyone else’s grandma do this? Why? Was there ever a period in American history when there was a shortage of apples and a corresponding surplus of Ritz Crackers?)

Granted, not all discoveries are important, memorable, or even good. After all, someone discovered smallpox. But does that make me any less of a pioneer? I think not. Sure, you could have found Princess Pickles Spicy Asparagus yourself. But I got there first.

Packaging 7/10 -(Nice, classic label with a drawing of asparagus, but a three-point deduction for not being “Hot” as prominently stated.)
Aroma 9/10 – (Well”¦ it does smell like pickles.)
Appearance 4/10 – (Label warns: “Occasionally a harmless gray flecking will appear. This is a perfectly edible pure protein which occurs naturally in the pickling process.” Sure enough, there were some gray flecks on there. Ew.)
Taste 7/10 – (No discernable asparagus flavor.)
Heat 1.5/10 – (Spicy, yes. Hot, no.)

About the Company:
Product of U.S.A.
Packed by Johnson Foods
Sunnyside, Washington