Thursday, January 10, 2008

POTW: Combinatorial gluttony

I have pretty much kicked fast food after a few decades of thrice-weekly visits to Taco Bell. Occasionally I will relapse and visit In-N-Out. Double-doubles (with grilled onions, of course) are tasty treats. What's most impressive, though, is In-N-Out's innovative menu (and its simplicity): Burgers, fries, cokes and shakes. That's it. Consistent in quality, efficient in delivery.

Fast-food companies profit (sometimes) and perish (most times) in their combinatorial cuisine pursuits. Jack in the Box is the cardinal sinner; their chaotic unveiling of new offerings is senseless. Click here -- no joke -- to build your own Jack in the Box meal. Gut bombs should not be that complicated.

Our POTW, A.V. Club Taste Test Special: The Bowl At The Howling Rim Of Famous-Ity, details an adventure in fast food. LA-based comedian Patton Oswalt daringly inhales a Famous Bowl. Quick taste:

Kentucky Fried Chicken had filled a bowl with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, breaded chicken, and finally, cheese. Shut-ins, people afflicted with Prader-Willi Syndrome, and manic-depressives also do this. If you're trying to make a fortune in the food and beverage industry, those are the three demographics to shoot for—the Famous Bowl is one of the bestselling items on the KFC menu...
Great example of complicating something that's simple. Oswalt's parody continues:

...I drove the Famous Bowl home. It sat on the passenger seat next to me like a sullen runaway I'd picked up on the interstate...

The Famous Bowl hit my mouth like warm soda, slouched down my throat, and splayed itself across my stomach like a sun-stroked wino. It was that precise combination of things, and so many other sensations that did not go together. At all.

The gravy, which I remembered as being tangy and delicious in my youth, tasted like the idea of blandness, but burned and then salted to cover the horrid taste. The mashed potatoes defiantly stood their ground against the gravy, as if they'd read The Artist's Way and said, "I'm going to be boring and forgetful in my own potato-y way!" The corn tasted like it had been dunked in fake-corn-flavored ointment, and the popcorn chicken, breaded to the point of parody, was like chewing a cotton sleeve that someone had used to wipe chicken grease off their chin.

The cheese had congealed. Even in the heat and steam of the covered Famous Bowl, it had congealed. I stabbed it with the tines of my spork and it all came up in one piece. I nibbled an edge, had a vision of a crying Dutch farmer, and put it down.

Enjoy the read and laughs, but bypass the Famous Bowl.

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