Saturday, November 08, 2008

You're on thin ice, universe.

Dear universe,

You're getting sneakier. After that whole Pizookie business, things had settled down for a while between us. But at dinner tonight, I realized that you've been pulling the wool over my eyes about something else. For years. 

Universe, the word "salad" means something. It has an inherent value, and that value is healthy. When you hear the word "salad," you think invariably of greens of some variety, a hodgepodge of raw vegetables, maybe some dressing and croutons on top. You think of light lunches and lower numbers on the scale. You think of feeling satisfied, but not weighed down. I know many who agree with me on this. 

Tonight, husband and boy and I went out for dinner. Considering boy's normally early bedtime (he's usually in bed by 7), this was in and of itself a rare treat. Because our excursion was spontaneous, we got in the car intending to just stop at the grocery store for a few items, and were lured in by the sexy pink and blue gleam of the new Taco Cabana signage in our neighborhood. As it came into view down the road, husband and I both found our stomachs growling, and we thought simultaneously, hey, now's a good time for something with queso on it. And so we pulled in.

As we walked inside, I steeled myself. Universe, you know I'm not the most regular workout devotee. And so lately to counteract the fact that my main workout consists of running after boy all day, I've really started to watch what I eat. More than I used to. Sometimes. When I'm feeling up to the task. Sort of.

Anyway, tonight was one of those times. I scanned the menu overhead while juggling boy's diaper bag and an assortment of entertainment for him (we don't travel light anymore). The word "salad" snagged my eye, and I thought, aha! Perfect. Salad. Healthy. A compromise. It's probably got queso on it, AND I get my veggies. Everybody wins. And so I ordered the taco salad.

Universe, when husband brought our food to the table and set my salad in front of me, the table promptly gave out a weak sigh and leaned toward me. The salad ... was, just, not. It was not anything a salad typically is, or should be. It was all wrong.

The first affront to cardiac health was the bowl itself. That's because there wasn't one. In place of what should have been a normal eating vessel was a deep-fried flour tortilla, enormous in scale, crispy and glowing with sizzling oil. There is a great deal wrong with this already, universe. Can you imagine if everything we ate came in edible vessels? 
"Ok, sir, that'll be one 12 oz. ribeye, medium rare, loaded baked potato, and creamed corn. Anything else?"
"Yes. Could you make sure you serve that on a chicken-fried steak instead of a plate? And maybe bring me some utensils made out of bacon? I really don't want to leave any trace of my presence here at all."
"Sure thing, sir. Extra gravy too?"
"Please. And I need a refill on this diet Coke when you have a chance. I can see the bottom of my hollowed-out pineapple. Plus I need another straw. My Twizzler dissolved."
Viewed from above, not a single leaf of lettuce was visible in this so-called salad. I discovered later that it was obscured by the continents of sour cream and guacamole. I'll just say that again for you, universe: the salad, at its widest point, was hidden by its own dairy, creamy, fatty toppings. 

I know what you're thinking, universe. You're annoyed with me because, really, what could I expect, heading into a fast-food Tex-Mex restaurant in the first place? I'll tell you. I expected to get what I ordered. If it's called a salad, there should be vegetables in it. Vegetables, plural. Pico de gallo doesn't count. If you want to sell the dish the way it is, fine. Call it what it is, that's all I'm asking. 
"Can I take your order?"
"Yep. I'll have the Deep-fried Bowl Bigger Than My Face, Filled with Empty Calories, a Token Amount of Protein and an Afterthought of Limp Romaine, please."
I've ordered taco salads before, universe. But I think this may be the first one I've eaten now that I'm in my 30s, and the wrongness of it all has beaten me down. Just CALL IT WHAT IT IS, ALREADY. I'll admit that the actual name of what the dish is doesn't fit as well on a menu, but that's as far as I'm willing to go. 

You've got to meet me halfway.


Devon said...

Next time try the black bean tacos..they are yum and have lettuce and tomatoes in them! Two things which you probbaly missed in your "salad". You could have made an actual salad from the condiment bar at TC!

married yoshimi said...

MGB here. Your salad reminds me of Patton Oswalt's bit on the KFC bowls. Kinda' NSFW.

we love ya'll!

Laura said...

Twizzler straw -- hee! Have to admit that the very possible dissolving scenario is the latest on my list of reasons that I'm glad I gave up Diet Coke...