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The Taco Bell Chronicles

October 13, 2017

One kid doesn’t like pizza. One kid doesn’t like taquerias. I’ve never been able to get into Panera. One kid isn’t crazy about Chinese takeout. Sushi might be fine, but the kids have certain standards. They also have high standards for barbecue.

And then there is the issue of time.

As the Fussy Little Children get older, I’m finding their after school and evening activities have increased. Many of my work activities also tend to fall around dinner time. So while we’re still prioritizing family dinner, those meals around the table together are diminishing. Last night we had our first full family meal in a week. Egads!

When I am eating out with the kids, we’re typically on the road. Either coming from or going to some kind of activity. So time is of the essence. It has to be quick. What I’ve learned is that there is only so many times I can eat at Five Guys and Chipotle.

But there is a recent discovery that put Taco Bell back into the rotation.

My history with this national chain is long and complicated. There were those young and carefree high school days, when this cheap food was a ton of fun. You could order a whole bunch of stuff, and it was never more than a few bucks.

When I was a poor college student, I realized I could order a bean burrito and add “extra beef” for less money than ordering a beef and bean burrito. I lived off those for a year until somebody caught on.

Then I moved to California and discovered the burritos of the San Francisco Mission District, Taco Bell was dead to me. Until, of course, I ended up working for the brand in my role as a media strategist. Before my first meeting with the corporate clients, I struggled to think of an item from their menu that I might eat.

My answer at the time, and for the subsequent decade or so, was the bean burrito.

It has been a long time coming, but I totally burned out on the Taco Bell bean burrito. I could neither choke down the traditional build or the lighter “fresco style” which brightened up this heavy tube of goo with chopped tomatoes and cilantro. I just couldn’t take it anymore. And Taco Bell fell out of the quick-meal-out-with-the-kids rotation, much to their chagrin.

I can’t recall the exact circumstances, but recently the kids were having a bad day, and it seemed the only thing that would cure their ailes was a visit to the Bell.

So I delved deep. What could I possibly eat from this menu that would fit into my diet and not make me gag. And I had an epiphany. The component of the bean burrito that drew most of my ire was the gummy and pasty flour tortilla. But a bowl of pintos and cheese didn’t feel like quite enough food. Besides, one needs rice to go with beans in order to make it a complete protein.

That’s when I went out on a limb.

At the register, I asked if they could put a scoop of rice and some chopped onions into an order of pintos and cheese. Naturally, they said yes. And voila. There it was. Lunch. Was it great? Nope. But it was edible. It wasn’t disgusting. It sated my hunger, and got me through the next few hours.

Since this is not a typical order, every time I get it, what appears on the tray is a bit of a surprise. But that’s okay too.

It will help keep the burnout away.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 13, 2017 2:14 pm

    The jalapeños at Taco Hell are surprisingly good. They’re not advertised on the menu, but they do have them, and their vinegary/spicy punch help to elevate most anything there. Add them to your burrito bowl.

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