Ruminations On The Horrors of Frozen Quesadillas

(Reposted from my Tumblr).

Dear Internet: why would anyone buy a frozen quesadilla?

Is it that difficult to make one? I have made many quesadillas in my time, and the basic procedure involved is: frying pan, tortilla, cheese, butter or cooking spray, 5 minutes.

Is that too damn hard?

If all you have is a microwave, might it be best to eat a sandwich?

Am I just asking these questions because I live in Cambodia?



“Tender white meat chicken, pepper Jack, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses with salsa in fresh flour tortillas.”

T.G.I. Friday’s sells multiple flavors of frozen quesadillas, indicating this is a growth industry. Note that these are sold in “party” size, conjuring up images of winter-time Midwestern gatherings involving fake sombreros, an inflatable burro, and existential despair.


“Tender strips of grilled steak, real Monterey Jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, zesty salsa and authentic seasonings & spices, all stuffed in oven-baked flour tortillas and grilled to perfection.”

The Jose Ole PR minions really lay it on in that description, don’t they? There are so many adjectives, meant to conjure up a kindly abuela who greets you when you return from 4th grade swim practice with a nutrient-rich and hot meal. Except there is only 3:00 AM, and the sudden, mechanical ding of the microwave. There is only this.


Tyson doesn’t just sell chicken parts in shrink-wrap—no, they’ll also sell you a shelf-stable and nutritionally analyzed quesadilla for your home-eating pleasure, complete with some bits of poultry protein. It’s called a Fajita Seasoned Quesa-Dipper, because it’s special, in the Any’Tizer line, because naming things what they actually are is apparently bitter anathema to the American snacker.

Tyson will also cheerily sell you a bag of Homestyle Chicken Fries, which is quite interesting, because insofar as I am aware no one’s grandmother has ever plonked a big freshly-made batch of chicken fries in front of your younger self at the old Arkansas homestead. Although I could be proved wrong.

Frozen Quesadillas – A Taste Test

Those well-paid and jolly journalists at the Tampa Bay Times saw fit to conduct a taste-test of frozen quesadillas last spring, concluding that T.G.I. Friday’s offers a “yummy” shelf-stable choice.

Why bother to review a freezer version of one of the easiest recipes man has ever bothered to write down, you may inquire—you Coastal bourgeois jerkoff, you?

Says Times Correspondent Kathy Saunders: “I sometimes find myself wincing at the thought of grating cheese, dirtying a pan and then cleaning up the kitchen after producing a stack of the cheese-filled tortillas.”

The nightmare never ends when you’re making quesadillas, does it, Ms Saunders? The goddamn nightmare never ends.

Napoleon Dynamite’s grandmother, speaking on this important matter.


Perhaps we shall use the frozen quesadilla as a diagnostic tool, of sorts: the culmination of the path which our collective American culinary sickness has taken us.

The seed of the frozen quesadilla was first patted into the ground by 1950s housewives and their nuclear cuisine: it germinated in the 1980s, when eating things flavored in Blue Raspberry became standard amongst children, and was just about to sprout in the 1990s and 2000s as fast-food drive throughs became the standard fare for pretty much everyone consigned to a minivan or a soul destroying job (or both).

What next, then? Shall we herald the frozen quesadilla as a sign of apocalypse? Shall we teach children how to—at least—make their own damned quesadillas, if nothing else?

Would I be able to receive grant money from an unwitting government institution to complete a nutritional and anthropological study on the very topic, culminating in a documentary?

Perhaps not.



Acquire a tortilla. It can be an organic tortilla. It can be made by your almost-dead Mexican grandmother, who shuffles up to her stove once a day and pats out corn tortillas for the benefit of her tired family, only able to see out of one clouded and cataract-filled eye. You can buy it at the local grocery store, a pack of 12 for $3.00 on special. This is unimportant.

Acquire cheese. Velveeta is fine, and does not require the dreaded grating. You may also use Cotija, blue cheese, string cheese, or the shit you spray out of a can. This too is fairly immaterial. When has anyone judged you for a quesadilla? You may ask yourself this. When has my quesadilla lost me friends?

Get a tortilla out of the bag (important). Place it on a flat surface. Put cheese on it. You may have to grate the cheese, which will likely cause emotional distress, but you will eventually recover from the strain. You could also slice the cheese. It’s your life.

If you would like to put in other ingredients—peppers, salsa, ham, bacon, mushrooms, Pop Rocks—sprinkle them on top of the cheese. Cover this with another tortilla. Press.


Acquire a frying pan. Acquire a stove. Place the frying pan on top of a burner. Turn on the heat. Put: cooking spray, oil (canola, olive, peanut), or butter into the pan so the quesadilla does not stick. Wait for the oil or spray to heat up, or for the butter to melt into a lugubrious, Paula-Deen esque slick.

Put in the quesadilla. This is a dangerous procedure: you could lose some grated cheese on the floor, for example. And then your life might be over. (Not really. This is where having a dog comes in handy).

Cook the quesadilla. About 3 minutes on each side. Perhaps more if you like it crunchy.

Put the quesadilla on a plate. You could slice it! You could eat it like a pizza! Total freedom is yours!

Eat it. Wait until it is cool.

You have officially rendered the frozen quesadilla lobby obsolete.

MASTER CLASS: Serve with: guacamole, sour cream, salsa, corn chips, refried beans, Pop Rocks. Only for the accomplished.


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