A few years ago when I actually attended a cooking school through HomeChef, the instructors strongly suggested that if you were going to cut corners in making pasta sauce, at least use the boxed stuff, like the Pomi Chopped Tomatoes, in place of chopping up tomatoes yourself. Any admittance of using a jar of tomato sauce or a can of chopped tomatoes was looked down upon as the ultimate cop out and sacrifice of taste and freshness.
Why? Apparently the sweet and tangy taste of tomatoes is compromised by canning it in those tin things. Jars of sauce are guilty of having lots of sugar and water added to them.
The only problem is that a box of the Pomi was too overly yuppie a purchase for a GrubGirl to justify. Only available at nicer grocery stores, and imported from Italy, prices ranged anywhere from $3.50 to over $5.00. Lo and behold, those few years ago, Trader Joe’s stocked the stuff and at a discount…$2-3 for a box. Yay!
However one month, the inventory was gone. This was in 2004 or so. I went to all the Trader Joe’s in San Francisco to find the sauce. Each store manager on duty gave me a different story, if they knew what the heck I was talking about in the first place. “The Pomi is missing,” was my standard reply every time a cashier asked me their standard, “Did you find everything today?” (I really wished I had the guts to throw back, “No, actually, was the Pomi really that poor of a seller that you cut of its shipments? Have you no idea what you’re doing to me??*sob*..”)
The most realistic sounding story I got from a store manager was that due to some crazy shenanigans with Pomi’s parent company Parmalat, TJ’s was no longer able to source the goods as their crazy low TJ prices. Hmmm. Sure, I’ll buy that.
Well, here it is 2007 and I noticed something oddly familiar back on the shelves! No, it’s not Pomi Chopped Tomatoes, but a suspiciously similar box of Trader Joe’s labeled “Italian Tomato Starter Sauce” that includes, hm, chopped tomatoes! Fearing that this was a fluke, I swiped up 4 boxes. But fortunately, it’s been a few months and they still are on the shelves. And yes, the taste is refreshing and fabulous…and I will only return to the jar when I’m absolutely too tired to make anything from scratch.
Trader Joe’s – please don’t discontinue this one!