Tuesday, May 06, 2008

In A Word: BLECH. ...

I try to eat healthy. Really, I do. There's little point in working with a personal trainer three days a week only to spend the balance of the days shoveling loads of crap down one's gullet.

Still, every so often, a girl needs to get the hell away from boneless, skinless chicken breast and salad.

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, and Pete Yorn, to whom New John recently introduced me, was on my iTunes, singing a song about a burrito (the tune is called, cleverly, "Burrito"), and I thought to myself, "Oooh, a burrito would be gooood." Yes, "gooood" with extra Os. And an Andy Griffth accent.

So in the spirit of vacation and doing new and different things, I decided that yesterday would be the day that I would cease to be a Chipotle virgin. That's right: I'd never been to Chipotle. I'd heard the lore, I'd seen the stores, but I had never crossed a Chipotle threshold.

I went to Best Buy (mine has a surprisingly good selection of music) and bought another Pete Yorn album (Nightcrawler; don't much like it, by the way, and not just because it's titled after a worm) and Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. Have you heard "Blue In Green"?! Ohmygod, it's life-changing. I could listen to it for hours.

Anyhoo, I popped into Chipotle for a burr-i-to (as Yorn sings it) and tried to understand the ordering process. It's kind of like Subway, but for burr-i-tos. OK, got it. I thought I'd go for steak, because a) who doesn't like steak? and because b) it's not chicken.

The man behind the counter began by putting a ginormous spoonful of rice on my burr-i-to-sized tortilla. Rice flecked with something green.

Cilantro, I thought, in the voice superheroes use when encountering their arch-nemeses. Me and cilantro, we don't get along.

Chipotle and I had already gotten off on the wrong foot.

Black beans or pinto beans was my next decision. Black beans, for sure. I love black beans. Though what he spooned onto my rice looked more like the end result of oil refining, not that I have an intimate knowledge of the oil-refining process.

But whatever. I was determined to see this thing through. Chipotle was out of the mild tomato salsa (how the hell does a Mexican chain run out of basic salsa?) so I skipped salsa and moved right on to "cheese or sour cream?"

Both. Duh. In the absence of fat-free salsa, a burrito needs some sort of lubricant, so sour cream becomes the fat-laden stand-in.

Guacamole? GOD no. The texture of avocado makes me want to peel off my skin.

Anything else?

Lettuce, I said, as my burr-i-to worker proceeded to ignore me and turn my pile of cilantro-flecked rice and bean sludge and steak cubes into a very rotund bundle.

It was hard-pressed to pass for a burr-i-to. It looked more like a potato. Or, you know, a po-ta-to.

He marked it with an S, for steak, and I proceeded to pay more than six bucks for my little bundle of cilantro-tainted joy.

The cashier, by the way, was the daughter of the owner of the gym I used to go to. (Oh, yes, that's right: past tense. I've joined a new gym. But that is another post for another day.)

I came home and peeled back a bit of foil, took a bite, and quickly realized that in Chipotle-speak, "steak" is code for "gristle."

I mean, I know it's fast food. I wasn't expecting Kobe beef. I was, however, expecting to be able to, oh, chew and swallow.

The cilantro was slightly less disgusting than I was anticipating, but last night was my first- and last-ever Chipotle experience.

But wait! There's more!

This morning, out for a walk, I noticed on the McDonald's marquee some language touting a new Southern-style chicken sandwich. Huh, I thought, and made a mental note of it. When I got home, a shipment from Amazon was waiting in my mailbox, and inside the box was a coupon for a McDonald's Southern-style chicken sandwich.

OK, then. This is the sandwich's glamour shot. Behold the golden-brown perfection. I headed to McDonald's, handed over my coupon, took custody of my sammich, and headed home to inspect my quarry.

McDonald's touts a "steamed buttery tasting bun ... ." I could forgive the missing hyphen (honestly, it's the largest fast-food chain in the world; would it kill 'em to hire an editor?!) if the bun was in fact merely buttery tasting or if the bun was in fact buttered. But no. The bun is squirted with something resembling what I believe is intended to be butter. The effect, however, brings to mind, at the risk of sounding indelicate, soiled snow. Mmm! Hungry yet? The "buttered" bun, it should be noted, also hosted two anemic pickle slices, pickle slices that could clearly do with a little time in the sun.

The chicken itself looked nothing like the picture, not that that's ever the case.

I reassmebled my "sandwich" and took a bite.

No. No, no, no, no, no.

Did McDonald's forget to add the magic flavor chemicals to recreate the fried-chicken experience? I think so.

I tried another bite, just to ensure that the first bite was not an anomaly, just to ensure that my tastebuds hadn't all gone on collective strike the moment I bit into the "sandwich" the first time.

Yes, in fact, the second bite was just as bad as the first.

Good thing I didn't pay for that thing. Into the trash it went.

And I ate a protein bar instead.

So, to recap:

Chipotle "steak" burr-i-to: BLECH.

McDonald's Southern-style chicken "sandwich": BLECH.

I give each one a Mr. Yuk, who is normally reserved for making kids aware of poison, I know, but you should totally avoid this so-called food, too.


Blogger Mercurie said...

I've never been to Chipotle, but I already know not to trust anything at McDonalds except their hamburgers, fries, and McRibs...

8:17 PM  
Blogger Random Esquire said...

I'm not too big a fan of Chipotle, myself, but I don't think my experience has been quite as...well, gristle-laden as your own. Plus, I like cilantro and guacamole.

Does cilantro taste like soap to you? Or is it just some other flavor you do not like about it, may I ask?


11:46 AM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

wow, I had high hopes going into the post you would like Chipolte. I've heard good things about their quality/lack of preservatives. I do like them every now and then, but I like cilantro and guacamole. Have you got a Moe's? same idea but more choices (without cilantro in the rice)

As far as McD's, I never hold much hope. Do you have Chick-fil-a? McD's southern sammy is a copy of their claim to fame. A rather tastey, but plain chicken sandwich. Like you said, at least it was free.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Merc: After seeing "Supersize Me" and reading "Fast Food Nation," I'm surprised I still eat any fast food, actually.

Random: Yep, soap. Cilantro tastes like soap. Blech.

Elizabeth: There is a Moe's somewhere near here. I've never ventured in, but will give it a whirl someday. In the next decade. (It took me a looooooong time to get myself into a Chipotle.)

No Chik-fil-as in these parts. Though I think I should be avoiding fried chicken on a white-bread bun. Nothing healthy there.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Random Esquire said...

There is a Moe's in Chicago?? I want to try that place because a friend of mine in Florida loves it.


1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont have a google account, so I'm posting as anonymous.

I was listening to the radio when the McDonalds southern chicken sandwich so i decided to google "buttery tasting bun". In my infinite nerd-ness I decided to google those words. Which is how i stumbled across your blog.

Thanks for the warning on the sandwich, although I'm suprised at the disgust felt towards Chipotle. Although It's not my favorite, and the food has enough saturated fat that if I ate more then two a month my doctor would backhand me, I still find it enjoyable. When it comes to the cilantro issue, I find it just a little picky, but yet again I'm in the military, having to finish your plate of mystery meat for two months left it's effects. If anything the rice is given enough lime juice to counteract any cilantro tossed in. As far as the quality of meat, I usually get a good batch of well seasoned steak. I would suggest a restaurant called Qdoba, which is similar but has more variety

11:15 AM  

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