We recently stumbled across Fuizion freeze driedfoods, a brand that was new to us. On browsing their site, it becomes apparent from the photographs that this stuff stands apart from other freeze dries foods if only by being ridiculously photogenic. We couldn’t believe that this product could possibly look as good as the website makes out! We all know that dehydrated foods don’t come with great bog chunks of chicken and slices of proper mushroom right? We just had to find out how much window dressing has been done on the food on their site compared to how it really looks on the mountain. We tried Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken and Bacon Pasta in a Cream and White Wine Sauce and the Beef Bourguignon with Rice and this is what we honestly thought, with some pictures so you can see what these meals look like when slopped out onto a plate on a hill.
On opening the pouch of Chicken and Bacon Pasta, the first thing that struck me was that the food is formed into a number of chunks or irregular pellets. This meant that even after pouring in the water and becoming distracted before remembering to actually stir the food, there was no powdery residue left at the bottom like with many other brands. Full marks so far.
Once it had hydrated, there were lumps of chicken, but nothing as chunky as I’d expected. However, there were chunks of mushroom and bacon that made up for that. It’s certainly tasy enough – and could easily be bulked up with an extra nest of tagliatelle as the amount of pasta isn’t generous yet it still packs 519 calories. Comparing it to Pasta and Sauce would be a bit like comparing a proper restaurant meal to something served at an Olympics official restaurant, though I use that word in the loosest sense (aka – incorrectly).
Beef Bourguignon. Again, there wasn’t enough rice – but at well over 600 calories in a pack, you can easily add some rice for an even more filling meal if you feel you have to. It didn’t look that appealing – though I know I’d not left it soaking long enough in the pouch in order to take a picture! It would probably look better without the rice. Looks aside, there were huge field mushrooms and chunks of beef to chew through, along with some nicely cooked soft carrot. The simple fact that you had to chew your way through this meal and pick bits of meat out of your teeth afterwards is testament to the sheer chunkiness of these meals. Of course, some lemon chose the moment I was eating this to walk past and shout “That smells disgusting!”, an observation that said a lot more about his attitude and demeanour than it did about the food. I shan’t explain here what gesture was returned as a response, just that it is considered offensive in 126 countries and has something to do with coveting your neighbour’s goat in the remainder.
Finally, the Chicken Tikka Masala. As a curry man, favouring those towards the hotter Madras end of the spectrum (not the suicidally hot), I’m particular with curries. Yet this meal impressed immediately on opening with the spicy aroma and huge chunks of chicken clearly visible. On preparation the sauce is both spicy and creamy and probably the best reconstituted curry I’ve had to date. It was very similar to the Look What We Found tikka masala that I’d tested recently, which is high praise indeed. I think we’ll have to do a blind test between them to see if we can distinguish between them. Again there’s not enough rice. You can look at this as a problem, but I think that this is an advantage as you can bulk these meals up considerably with a small portion of rice. I reckon half a pouch of microwave rice would do it, or boil in the bag.
These meals are at the upper price for a freeze dried meal, but for your money, you get a wide range of meals, including three different curries (excluding the vegetable ones!) that provide the 600 cals plus expected from a backpacking meal. Not only that, but they’re the only meals we’ve tried that give you proper chunks of meat and vegetables. Just the fact that you have to chew, you’ll take longer eating and probably ‘feel’ fuller as a result. Even if not, at least it feels like you’re eating something that approximates proper food in scale and is approaching gourmet in flavour.
Clearly Fuizion have raised the bar with freeze dried foods, and while modern brands are tasty compared to what was around even a few years ago, this is the new standard to beat. The only other dried meal that comes close is the Mountain House Lasagne, which is better than the Beef Bourginon, but the equal of the other two meals here hence an average score of 4.7 out of 5. Huge chunks make this a gourmet meal on the hill and surely (hopefully?) this marks the demise of camping food that’s only marginally more solid than baby food?