I fancy myself as a food engineer, but of the structural rather than chemical sort. Last Summer I compared a traditional Victoria sponge with less than 10 ingredients with its commercial equivalent which requires more than 40 foods & chemicals. When Dau.II was visiting last weekend, as well as exploring the attics, she put on a hazmat suit and investigated the deep-freeze. Actually our deep-freeze is not too bad, there are no biological specimens and we do try to rotate the stock. But she did discover a relatively recent cache of frozen pizzas and apple-pies from Aldi. Maybe two months ago, I dropped into Aldi on the way home from work to buy some milk and butter and saw apple pies marked down to €0.99 and I dithered about whether it was worth it. A couple of days later, as the sell-by date approached, the same pies were down to 50c, so I bought three . . . and a couple of Quattro Formaggi frozen pizzas which were in the same bin at the same price. The pie I assayed the following weekend was fine and the price was right.
Nothing would please my girl last weekend but that we should take out one of the emergency convenience food pizzas and eat it within the hour. The whole idea of frozen pizza being a convenience food is sort of bonkers because there is nothing easier to make than home-made pizza, or simpler, or cheaper. All it needs is a little elapsed time and maybe 8 minutes of labour. Ingredients: bread dough (flour, water, salt, yeast), tomatoes [passata, or tinned and blended], cheese. Optional: basil, oregano, pepperoni. To make a pizza into a convenience food you have to process the ingredients and add all kinds of other stuff a) to keep the ingredients apart until cooking commences b) to keep the material in appetizing condition for weeks or months.
Stone baked pizza base topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, red Cheddar cheese, Gorgonzola cheese and goats cheese. (no apostrophe for the goat, tsk!). Ingredients: Pizza base (Wheat flour, water, sunflower oil, Dextrose, salt, yeast); MOZZARELLA CHEESE (20%) (Milk); TOMATO SAUCE (18%) [water, tomato puree, sunflower oil, sugar, salt, dried oregano, fried onion (onion, sunflower oil, rice flour, salt), garlic power, black pepper, cayenne pepper. RED CHEDDAR CHEESE (7%) [Cheddar cheese (Milk), colour: annatto]. GORGONZOLA CHEESE (5%) (Milk), GOATS CHEESE (5%) (Milk). The most likely food allergens/neuroses are helpfully highlighted in bold. There is a somewhat disconcerting disclaimer as well: May contain celery, egg, fish, crustaceans, and soya. I know the USDA allows a certain number of insect wing-cases to appear in food products because they are a) tiny b) unavoidable . . . but lobsters?!? There are a lot of extras in the table of contents but this product doesn't appear to need truly weird chemicals like stabilisers, anti-oxidants and emulsifiers.
Verdict: it's like eating cheese on a biscuit. There is so little give in the cooked product you could probably use it as an emergency gusset plate for a bridge.