Life in a peachy dish
The last meal I cooked came by way of the U.S. Postal Service.
A few days ago, this local Atlanta startup PeachDish offered to send me the ingredients to cook a meal at home. The company mails you everything, including meat, along with a pamphlet of cooking instructions.
The subscription is $20 a week, but I got the first meal free of charge. When I opened my kit, I had all the components for a chicken and rice dish, plus an appetizer involving carrots and ginger. There was something akin to a dessert in my order, too: slices of coconut and dark chocolate.
What I couldn’t quite get over, though, was receiving frozen, uncooked meat from the post office. Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life, but the idea of getting fresh meat delivered to my door has never crossed my mind. I’ve heard of shipping exotic, hard to find specialty items, like fresh seafood, but chicken breasts? That raised some obvious questions, especially with a chicken recall in effect.
PeachDish sent three chicken breasts. Each breast was vacuum sealed and they were packed with a huge bag of ice, wrapped in an insulating material. It had all the appearances of being safe to eat, but I couldn’t find the source of the chicken listed in pamphlet or on the company’s website.
I emailed PeachDish and to make sure that chicken was legit.
Alex Higgins, one of the company’s ninjas, responded quickly.
Her reply was, “We source our protein from different places depending on the dish, but our chicken this week came from Springer Mountain Farms!”
I checked the recall list and Springer Mountain was in the clear. We were good to go.
I’m ashamed to say this, but I don’t cook as often as I should. When I get home from a teeth-pulverizing commute, the last thing I want is to wash dishes and improvise counter space. I also live in a neighborhood with world famous restaurants.
Not Cooking makes a pretty persuasive argument, most of the time.
PeachDish presents cooking as something akin to a domestic safari, with the slogan, “Adventure is served!”
In my particular case, adventure is almost inevitable when I fire up the stove. The presence of a meal in a box was a new complication on my usual display of culinary derp.
My wife, who cooks more frequently, looked at me with a raised eyebrow as I read the instructions, held them close to the box, reread them and then inspected each ingredient one by one.
“Are you sure you’re going to be OK in here?” she said. “That looks a little advanced for you.”
I shooed her away.
“I’ll be fine,” I said. “I’m not that terrible.”
“Ok …,” she said. Her voice trailed off as she left me to my work.
I decided against making the appetizer, a kind of carrot and ginger slaw. I didn’t feel like peeling the carrots, which would be true even if I wasn’t recovering from a long trip home on I-285. I just didn’t have the patience or the counter space.
The dinner had a coconut theme, I noticed. I made the rice and kale with coconut milk. I marinated the chicken with a spicy paste, jerk seasoning, and set it aside. I chopped up the veggies, poured some oil in the two skillets and started assembling dinner.
I cooked the chicken in a separate pan from the kale and shallots. The whole process took less than 30 minutes. I put the kale on the rice and placed the chicken on top of that. Here’s the end product:
It was a pretty tasty dish. My wife was pleasantly surprised that I was able to pull dinner off without burning the house down.
Now that I’ve cooked dinner once, I’ll be bragging about it for the next week or so.
PeachDish is a neat idea, but it didn’t pass the mom test.
“You probably are paying more just on shipping,” my mom said when I ran the concept by her.
In mom’s case, I’m sure that’s true. She lives in Alabama and doesn’t have a commute that’s nearly as grueling. In a big city, where driving will suck the life out of you, grocery shopping becomes one more hassle. I feel like $20 a week price point is a little steep for the modest thrill of standing over a hot stove.
While the dishes weren’t complex, I still found the instructions a bit lacking. I think I could’ve benefited from a few more pictures. I spent much of my time trying to figure out what was what.
The website also disappointed me because it lacked of information about the sourcing of the products. Locally-sourced is one of its key selling points. I feel like that’s information you should receive with each meal.
I found the food tasty, and that’s never a bad thing. I think the cooking adventure could’ve been somewhat more adventurous. Chicken and rice isn’t a novel approach, though the coconut flourishes were a nice touch.
The company model lacks versatility on a few different fronts. With the right mix of ingredients and a web-conscious price point (Could you deliver that same meal for $10 a week?), I would be more likely to try it again.
I see potential. Maybe it just needs a little more salt.