I am not a busy mom. I don’t find myself waiting hand and foot on a hungry husband and rushing my children to oodles of activities. My entire life is one big “me time” and I rarely find myself in a dilemma when the time comes to cook dinner for more than one person.
And yet, I found myself drawn to Philadelphia Cooking Creme.Maybe it’s because I’m a college student, but I never blink at the opportunity to add cream cheese to food. And being that this was one of Philadelphia’s biggest advertising campaigns yet, how could I not try it? The marketing really confines it to a very specific demographic: if you’re incompetent at cooking and find yourself literally paralyzed by anxiety over reading a cookbook, this supplement is for you. I can’t bring myself to call it a sauce, nor can I call it a creme, because thick, white, gooey stuff that smells funny just doesn’t do it for me.
Philly’s phinest comes in four flavors, Italian Cheese and Herb (herb singular), Santa Fe Blend, Savory Garlic, and Original. My grocery store only carried two of the four, so I opted to try the Italian Cheese and Herb. Upon opening the package, only one thought entered my mind: is it possible this has gone bad? It couldn’t have been- it had only been released less than a week ago. It made no sense. And yet, the texture was grainy and inconsistent, too wet and too pungent. When we tasted it, it was acerbic- that generic herb blend rearing its ugly head, and the “Italian cheese” was mainly just cream cheese. Cream-a chees-a, if you will.
However, it goes without saying that you have to cook with it before you eat it, thus damning this to the unitasking products we so loathe here at Foodette Reviews. It’s a one trick pony. You can’t spread this on your bagel or mix it in with your quiche. It’s a sauce, damn it, and it’s not going to pander to anyone else’s needs. So with that in mind, we tried it in three applications- as a breakfast food in eggs, as a lunch with a chicken burrito, and as dinner, with homemade gnocchi and meatballs. All three of them vastly disappointed us.
The eggs were probably the biggest failure, as we love to mix a little sour cream or cream cheese into our morning omelettes to make them creamy and fluffy. Cooking creme, however, made us feel like we were being molested by our morning eggs, rendering them grainy and seizing them up, tasting more like school lunch eggs from a military issued brown box than Mark Bittman’s low and slow method. The herbs overpowered all other flavors, the scariest being the smoky paprika I added at the end. If a chemical, er, supplement is so powerful that it overwhelms DJ Smoky P, we’re in serious trouble. All “creamy” elements of the sauce disappeared or dissolved into the eggs, leaving nothing more but a slimy trail at the bottom of the pan.With the burrito, the cooking creme was the most successful. Granted, that’s like giving an award to the best five inch penis in the world, but I digress. I cooked up some chicken in a pan and added about a tablespoon of cooking creme. It cooked and sizzled with the chicken, but ended up browning at the edges. In the minute or so that I sauteed it for, it managed to reduce itself to a milky, watery liquid that barely adhered to the chicken at all. This completely defeated the purpose of being a sauce, because a sauce is supposed to stick to whatever you’re using it on, and made it more of a marinade. That being said, a bulk of the graininess was cooked off, and it seemed more mild in a burrito setting. My main complaint, aside from the texture, was how bland it made everything look. That’s partially our fault because we think that keeping vegetables around the house is a carnal sin, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some small pieces of green and red peppers to enhance the creme. This may provide comfort for people with bland dietary restrictions or infants, but it was rather unpalatable for us.
The pasta and meatballs was a toss-up, because we only added a tablespoon to an entire pound of gnocchi along with a whole jar of pasta sauce. Any effects the creme had were negative. It blended in with the sauce until it was relatively unoffensive, yet still retaining that dastardly generic herb bitterness, and made the leftovers strangely clumpy. It really seems to defeat the purpose of using it as a sauce when you add a mere tablespoon and it still does nothing but screw up your food.
I feel like this is gimmicky in every sense of the word, and preys upon the self-sufficiency of harried consumers. It tastes fake, it’s basically useless, and it markets itself as an upscale alternative to many, many other sufficient sauce boosters. This product practically fosters a dependency on packaged products. It’s not the mommy bloggers’ faults that they’re busy, but it is their faults if they can’t learn basic cooking skills or memorize the digits to their favorite Chinese joint. For $3.69, you could buy some cream cheese or make a whole mess of bechamel, both of which would provide the desired effect without the extraneous additions. Leave the Cooking Creme behind and order a pizza for your progeny.