Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's the Big Fat Deal?

A recent Huffington Post email headline reads, "American Fast Food Reaches Glorious New Low." I'd gotten so used to seeing the phrase new low in association with national employment stats or the stock market that I was prepared to read about a decrease in the percentage of fast-food consumers. Given that fast food and diabetes are strongly linked, public health officials might laud a departure from high-calorie eating as glorious, and a health conscious reporter, perhaps the one who titled yesterday's email, might reveal his angle–or her personal opinion–in such a food-related headline. 

As it turns out, though, the word glorious, at least in this context, seems to have meant "wow, that got my attention," and not, "I admire or love that."


The opening paragraph of Tuesday's article reads: "Americans may or may not be ready for Taco Bell's Waffle Taco. (Could we ever be ready for a breakfast sandwich of sausage and eggs wedged into the crevice of a folded waffle, then topped off with maple syrup?)." 

To which I say, "Don't be so incredulous!" At the restaurant where I work, we have a cheddar and bacon pancake that patrons douse with syrup and butter. They also eat scrambled eggs on top of their french toast, and they slather jam on savory biscuits.

If, for example, it's okay to pair berries with stinky cheese, then encase it in phyllo dough before baking it, then what's so bad about Taco Bell's waffle?

This new waffle (unless someone decides to put Velveta cheese on it) is nowhere near as gross as the Wrigley's mint chocolate gum that I saw yesterday. But, should the gum get more credit because it's sugar-free? I intend to sleep on that.

I say that if we're going to fault anyone for our interest in tasty but unusual combinations of food, let us talk to Ben and Jerry of Vermont. It wasn't until I started eating their ice cream that my own had anything other than a spoon, and maybe some nuts, in it.

Ben and Jerry's used to seem kind of expensive, and was a novelty for a while. Taco Bell's waffle, I fear, isn't quite as creative.

But people are eating it, and you won't find me shaking a finger. Having looked through the window of awe-inspiring restaurants like Las Vegas's Heart Attack Grill, which serves customers a Guinness-certified "World's Most Calorific Burger," I'm not easily shocked these days. I also acknowledge that my upbringing in New Orleans, with its giant muffuletta and Po-boy sandwiches, has shaped the way I view food. With Fat Tuesday less than a week away, I wish I could share a gluttonous meal with my New Orleanian friends and relatives.


Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Some of them, no doubt, will sample Food Drunk's King Cake Burger. Let them eat alone! Though I love a good king cake with cream cheese filling, never in a million years would I add cheddar cheese and beef to a sweet brioche roll. It's not that I'm a hamburger purist. You can add cheese and pickles (even sweet ones), and mayonnaise, and all that stuff. But I draw the line at icing and sugar sprinkles.

My biggest objection to the King Cake Burger is that it physically leaves no room for the plastic baby. In New Orleans, tradition dictates that whomever gets the king cake baby in her piece buys for the next party. No baby means no tradition and I'm stuck paying the bill for a bizarre meal which I may or may not have eaten alone.

I may be a food adventurist. I may have been a cornbread pusher during childhood. I may occasionally be desperate to prove something. At the end of the day, though, I don't eat weird stuff for free.

Instead, on a very rare occasion, I go to Taco Bell. I order one small bean burrito and an absurdly large diet drink.



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