No pot pie. No fried chicken. These were the usual constraints for picking up a quick TJ's lunch with A. We do this occasionally where neither of us feel like cooking or plopping down cash for takeout. When do I ever say no to a gratuitous TJ's trip?
There is no mango here! And a deceivingly acceptable amount of "meat!" But according to A, seafood doesn't count as meat. It's seafood? Whatever.
Only two serving sizes in this package, which meant A made our usual freezer staple too. The sodium count here isn't completely horrendous, but I suppose it could be if you ate the whole thing. Which I would probably do if I were still single. :P
Soo...if this is "made to be traditional," why do I need to use my imagination to transport myself to Spain? I think this is code for "it's not actually authentic, so just pretend you're in Spain and we'll call it a day." But it's a product of France. Maybe that counts for something.
Disclaimer: I'm no paella expert at all. I've had it maybe once or twice, so consider yourself warned.
That said, this wasn't half bad at all! They were pretty generous with the seafood (shrimp, squid, and mussels). I was kind of disappointed they didn't use long grain rice. To me, the chewiness of the short grain rice seems more appropriate for a risotto-like dish than paella. The color was a tad orange, which I thought strange, but it didn't affect the taste. I would have liked a little more of that saffron flavor to come through, but let me stop here - it's a frozen paella that A dumped into a skillet while I got ready for work. What more do you want? The flavor was pretty good! Not too salty. Not bland. Appropriately seafood-y, thanks to the generous seafood portion and apparently plenty of fish powder.
My only real complaint here? The frozen peas. In my opinion, frozen peas are the second to worst frozen vegetable (worst being lima beans). They were what my parents threw into my childhood ramen. If they aren't properly cooked, they get this mealy, chalky texture, which pretty much drags down the goodness of any dish (especially ramen). Everything else in this paella tasted fine. Just not the peas, which had that mealy texture that made me wholly aware of my surroundings - my dining room table with 5 minutes left before having to leave for work. Aka nowhere near Valencia, Spain.
Fortunately, there's more seafood than peas here, so the fact that the frozen peas dragged down the authenticity still won't stop me from repurchasing. A says this is close to some real fake paella he's had in Spanish [American] restaurants. Which means it's not REAL REAL but it gets the job done. $4.99 in the freezer bin y'all.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Seafood Paella. If you're looking for the real deal, forgettaboutit. But for the rest of us who don't know any better, it's a pretty tasty, seafoody rice dish! 6.5 out of 10.