Can the Quesadilla Maker Help a Bro to Not Screw Up Dinner?

After browsing through the food section of a popular men's lifestyle magazine one evening, a thought popped into my head: I could really go for some homemade quesadillas.

Like many food writers, being a good cook is important to me. Like many self-admitted bros, a recipe for disaster is always around the corner. I gathered the ingredients, the girlfriend came by, and I thought I had a pleasant night planned. But by the time the tortillas warmed and I slid my spatula into the pan, I realized my romantic feast had turned into an epic fail.

Perhaps the chorizo wasn't sliced thin enough? Perhaps I needed more cheese? Whatever the case, my dinner fell apart quicker than Paula Deen on The Today Show. I was pissed. I wanted it to be perfect. How do you screw up something so simple? How can you revitalize your cooking confidence after a disaster like this happens? And when your girlfriend shows up with a box that says Black & Decker and you discover she's bought you an idiot-proof quesadilla maker, do you accept defeat or secretly return the item without telling her?

I decided a product review was in order. Hey, at the very least, it would tell me whether it was the tools or the man operating them that was the problem. So I asked a series of questions to determine the machine's worth:

1. Is it bro friendly?

Totally. There are two buttons: a red one for power and a green one that says "ready". You don't have to press anything, you just plug it in and watch as a flour tortilla slowly transforms from pale white to golden brown. You can't screw this up unless you try to. but piling on way too many ingredients should be avoided.

2. Is it better than a frying pan?

Somewhat. You don't have to worry about ruining your dinner with poor flipping technique. There's no risk of splattering, and the tool practically cleans itself. The downside is that smoke occasionally emanates from the machine, which requires you to be on guard in case the smoke detector goes off (with a frying pan, at least, you can work underneath a hood). I suppose I give the machine the edge over the frying pan based on the fact it makes cool lines on the tortilla making it easy to cut your snack into equal pieces.  

The making of a beef and cheese quesadilla
The making of a beef and cheese quesadilla

3. Are the instructions easy to follow or stupid?

Kind of stupid and not that helpful. While reading through an instruction booklet for a machine that makes one thing is depressing, I did find a few things odd--or at least odder than a grown man reading a pamphlet on a quesadilla maker. The instructions told me to start building my dish on a separate plate then place it on the grill. I found building it on the machine first before plugging it in was the better move. Black & Decker also didn't provide any information on the optimum amount of toppings nor on the fact that too many toppings will ruin your quesadilla-making experience.

4. Will I maintain any sense of culinary dignity?

Not at all. The quesadilla maker, for all its wonderful traits, takes any form of artistry or pride out of the process of cooking--which was kind of the whole point to begin with anyway.

The end result.: a meal that doesn't fall apart all at once
The end result.: a meal that doesn't fall apart all at once

5. Does it make the ultimate quesadilla?

While the presentation is top notch, the fact that you have to use a minimal amount of ingredients for quesadilla success might leave those with big appetites feeling empty. While my hard work wasn't quite magazine photo shoot-worthy, the quesadilla maker did save me the aggravation of scrubbing dishes, and it made a more consistent meal than if I'd thrown my quesadilla in a pan.

For those in need of the gift that keeps on giving quesadillas, Black & Decker's model retails for $39.99 and can be found in department stores including Kohl's.

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