When I first began working at Starbucks, there was an older woman who worked across the way who would bring us baked goods every week. Cookies, brownies, that sort of thing. I’d like to believe this was done out of the kindness of her heart, though the way she would place her mug on the counter and expectantly ask for “her tea” suggested otherwise. And while the gesture itself was sweet, the outcome left quite a bit to be desired. In some magically inexplicable way, every one of her pastries tasted identical to the last. Not between cookies, no, but rather new item to new item, cookie mirroring brownie mirroring cupcake mirroring lemon bar. The results were remarkable, and would have been impressive if not for the disquiet there on the tongue after realizing what you were about to eat, out of politeness, held no distinguishing factor of its own. Were the pastry to commit murder, the crime would go unsolved, the DNA too inadmissible, too inconclusive.
So too is the case ehre. Nothing in Campbell’s Chunky Roadhouse Chili sets it apart. I do not say this in comparison to their competition, though this too is the case, but between bites, each spoonful of Chunky is as uninteresting as the last. While I don’t go into canned soup expecting something miraculous, I balk when I need to add my own spices in order to, well, spice up the dish, and give the stuff some complexity. There was a recipe on the back of the can for using their soup as a garnish of sorts to be placed atop some other meal, so the case could be made I’d approached their soup incorrectly. Perhaps it was not meant to be soup, I don’t know. But while Hamburger can be a Helper when called upon, it stands stoically on its own as a separate entity, a feat this Chili appears incapable of. I remember nothing of my meal, only that I became both further depressed and buoyed the closer to the bottom of the bowl I drew.
Campbell’s Chunky Roadhouse Chili is food for someone looking to sustain life, not experience it.