A Thought On Eating Fast Food

(Sorry for the brief hiatus.)

OK, we all do it. Well, I’m sure we all have at least a few times in our lives. In American culture, and exponentially growing throughout the world, it’s hard to avoid fast food establishments. Within a couple miles of my suburban residence, there is more than one McD’s (of course), Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, and probably something else I haven’t noticed.

While I don’t think fast food should be a source of daily or weekly meals, it is possible that stopping at Wendy’s on the way home from work is the best easiest solution for our busy, and often unpredictable, lives. Case in point: I know a couple of really busy grad students (hint: this girl) with completely hectic schedules that change daily. And when said grad students – OK it’s Hubs & me – are running around all day, it’s not the easiest thing to prepare all meals ahead of time. So occasionally, we supplement with fast food. OK, Hubs definitely enjoys more Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A than I do, but I’m guilty of resorting to Taco Bell and other non-meat serving establishments every couple of weeks. It happens.

Beyond “cheap, fast food” not actually being cheap (for the environment, for employees, and for our health) or fast (c’mon, there’s always a line), my biggest beef (pun intended) at the moment is with flavor. Where is the flavor? This thought crossed my mind while chewing through a Taco Bell bean burrito topped with tomatoes and lettuce. My thought in this purchase was “Hey, it’s vegetarian, filling, cheap, and pretty healthy for a fast-food option.” All of those assumptions were true, but then I forgot the biggest, and arguably, most important aspect of my meal: it should taste good.

Well, my filling, cheap and fairly healthy burrito tasted like mush. Bland flour tortilla, unrecognizable “vegetable” toppings and clumps of unappealingly light brown beans. Yeah, that’s not so appetizing. It’s no wonder we have an obsession with condiments in America, as they lends a hint of flavor to otherwise tasteless fast food. I’m completely guilty in this: having some french fries with my ketchup as a child, and loading 3 different kinds of hot sauces and salsas on my burrito to make it bearable.

In our efforts to have access to cheap, quick and filling fast food meals, often eaten in our car or while accomplishing other tasks, we’ve lost some of the most important aspects of good food: the ability to enjoy a flavorful meal in the company of others.

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