Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Corporate Fast Food

After the other day's post, I thought back to a few months ago when I had a few hours to kill in downtown San Diego. Soon after realizing that there was not in fact anything worth eating, I took it upon myself to make it an exercise in eating crappy food. What better way to remind myself of the food I like to eat than abusing my body and good taste with trip to a typical American fast food establishment? I chose Baja Fresh, a chain I had not in fact ever been to. It seemed like a nicer version of Taco Bell. Bear with me here folks, this just isn't how I normally eat.

I decided upon an unholy trifecta of seafood tacos. One of grilled fish, another fried, and one of shrimp.


Although not really the same thing, I started thinking about Morgan Spurlock's adventures from Super Size Me. Yes, he did throw up out of his car window after a super sized meal, but for the most part he characterized fast food food as making him feel pretty good, if only when he was eating it. It was very easy to eat even if it did do horrible things to his body. And this is mostly how I felt about my meal. I took a bite thinking that I would be biting into a dog's breakfast, triggering a sharp gag reflex leaving me soiled for an impending plane ride next to some other fat disgusting slob for five hundred miles. No dice. I was confused. Not because I hated it, but because it was kind of bland. Yeah, I could taste the fish, the shrimp, and the general idea of the thing, but there was not a lot else. The underlying flavor can only be described as "yummy" or some other stupid word that your tongue might use while under the influence of something stupid inducing. I just wanted to take more bites, searching for the flavor, searching for that feeling of immediacy, and the sense of experience of eating a mix of flavors. It wasn't bad, but it was certainly bland.

People wouldn't eat this stuff if it didn't taste kind of good. They eat it and it's mostly inoffensive. It doesn't titillate nor does it really offend. After my meal I was reminded that eating like this for too many meals, you can in fact lose your taste for other food. If all food just tastes inoffensive and "yummy", it's harder to want to eat the better and at times healthier stuff. And so I was left wondering about what this means for the average eater. Is this kind of food synonymous with the American diet? Fattening, Vaguely ethnic, and bland?


Robert H said...

Wish I had known you were going to SD. I could have sent you to some great places.

a said...

are there any?

Robert H said...

Taco Rey - Ignore the Yelp reviews here. The carne asada is some of the best in town. The best anywhere I would say (including our jaunt to your lovely city).

Pokez - Vegetarian (gasp!) Mexican food. Outstanding potato taquitos.

I have a much bigger list if you are willing to drive out of the city. It isn't exactly a culinary destination (far from it, actually) but there are some keepers that make me miss it occasionally.