Saturday, September 5, 2015

Trader Joe's Perline Pasta & Prosciutto

I saw somebody praise this on Twitter and thought it sounded interesting. I had never noticed it on the Trader Joe's shelves, and, in fact, I had some difficulty finding it even when I was specifically looking for it.

It's the most unusually shaped pasta I've ever seen: like little bombs, or sacs not quite tied together. The pasta is partially cooked, so it requires just a couple of minutes in boiling water.

I ate it without looking at the ingredients to see the details of what I was eating; I took the label's drawing of a ham, wheat, and some nice veggies as sufficient information.

I liked it--a lot.

I was surprised not to find discrete bits of prosciutto. Instead, the pasta sacs are filled with an dark-colored paste, which I liked, but could not identify by either appearance or taste. Prosciutto paste? How does that make any sense? That's what prompted me finally to look at the list of ingredients. Then I figured it out: the prosciutto is ground up with bread crumbs, eggs, flour, salt, spices, sugar, butter, some vegetables, and beef broth.

But that reading also led me to discover the component that guarantees I won't buy this product again: veal. I'm feeling highly ambivalent about pork products like prosciutto these days, and using very little of them. But veal? I swore off that many years ago, long before meats more generally were beginning to makes blips on my ethical radar. Notice that on the front of the package, next to the appealing drawings of ham, wheat, and vegetables, there is no depiction of a calf wondering why he's being taken away from his mother and loaded into a big truck. Nothing alerts the consumer to that particular ingredient except the fine print on the back of the box.

In a way, maybe it's easier for me to know that now. Without it, I would have to contemplate buying this pasta again, placing on one side of the scales the memory of how delicious it was, and on the other my large and growing unease of using pigs as food. But when the adorable baby cow wobbles in, sits down on the scale, and looks at me with its big dopey eyes, well, suddenly there is really no difficulty to the decision at all.

Will I buy it again? 

No. And for once I'll add this: I hope you don't, either.


  1. I'm disappointed trader joe's even sells this.

  2. Maybe you shouldn't be a food critic if you're morally against certain genres of food.

  3. What nonsense. This is a delicious product and, like everything, Trader Joe's sells, all natural with no preservatives and made with the highest quality ingredients to strict standards. If you have some objection to Veal, that's your business but I wonder what business you have using your personal belief system to evaluate a product on a food blog. And the Veal must be a minute portion of what makes up these delicious little morsels must be minute given the size of the pasta.

    1. Whose personal belief system do you think I should be using, if not my own?

    2. I'm certain that the baby calf that was butchered for this product was "all natural with no preservatives and made with the highest quality ingredients to strict standards." And it was still a butchered baby calf.