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The Tyranny of Low Expectations

March 28, 2019

Even though the FLB has been published for more years than I care to think about, one of the things I’m trying to figure out is how to work Instagram back into the mix. People like pictures. And while I take lots of pictures of the food I eat, most of them aren’t really good enough for public exposure.

This morning, I think I shared the wrong thing.

Instead of posting a picture from one of my favorite inexpensive Indian food spots, like the Keema Naan at Karam in Schenectady or the Dahi Puri at Parivar in Albany, I shared a shot of the Nacho Fries at Taco Bell.

Yep. I actually walked into a Taco Bell, looked at the menu, saw the Nacho Fries, ordered the nacho fries, took a picture of the tray, ate the product, and still somehow thought it was a good idea to share all of this on the Internet. Probably the best course of action would have been to chalk it up as a poor judgement call made in the throws of a sugar crash. But instead, I decided to publicize my bad decision and yet again pollute my IG feed with some less than optimal content.

But there is a story here, so maybe I can salvage at least a little something from the misstep.

Fries are terrible for you. That should go without saying. But french fries are also fantastically delicious. This is why I’m a proponent for eating fries, but ordering the smallest quantity possible, and sharing them with as many people as you can. While that Harvard guy says six fries is the right number, I still think that’s far too low. “Just a few” seems more reasonable, with that being a flexible quantity depending on the eater.

Beyond loving french fries, I’m a sucker for limited time offers. Also having spent years in Philadelphia, cheese sauce on fries is one of those foods in which I take deep comfort.

The reason I was even in Taco Bell in the first place was to get a quick snack for the kids in between school and their Wednesday afternoon activities. They usually get some combination of bean burritos and pintos with cheese. Meat isn’t something we choose to eat at this chain.

But there on the menu board were the nacho fries.

Before ordering them, I checked in with the kids to see if they would help me tackle the task of eating the Nacho Fries. Although, I probably would have still gotten them regardless, it made me feel better to know I wouldn’t be tempted to eat the whole portion.

The restaurant was mostly empty at three o’clock in the afternoon. Nobody was in line. There wasn’t even anyone in the drive through. It’s pretty much a ghost town when we drop in, which is how I like it. The food came up quickly. The cheese sauce was steaming hot. But the fries themselves were barely warm.

I’ve sent back the fries at McDonald’s in the past, when they weren’t up to the chain’s standards. As I’ve mentioned, they are terrible for you, and if you are going to eat them it should be an enjoyable experience.

But these were fries at Taco Bell. And really, this is about what I expected.

So I dragged the spiced, limp, and greasy potato sticks through the hot cheese dip, and ate a few of them. The heat from the pot of orange goo warmed up the tepid fried tuber to the point of being palatable. And the spice blend that dusted the outside of the fries added those sweet, salty, and piquant notes that fans of Doritos would find familiar.

When the cheese sauce ran out, I had zero interest in finishing the remaining fries, so I tossed them in the trash. This was an important step because the seasoning was addictive, and I would have likely continued to eat these terrible things until they were gone, driving me further into a downward spiral of self loathing.

Perhaps I should have just sent back the fries, and asked them to make a fresh batch. But when a place has low standards, it drives lower expectations, and this story is the end result. Besides not ordering the fries in the first place, I’m curious to hear what you would have done in the same situation.

Tomorrow, we get back to some great local places, and delicious things to put in your mouth. And in the meantime, don’t forget to enter to win a pair of tickets to the Jewish Food Festival!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chad V permalink
    March 28, 2019 8:57 pm

    In an amazingly close parallel to your story I also went for a run for the border and made an unusual stop at Taco Bell with my kids last week on the way to an event. I ordered the fries, which came luke warm. I liked the flavored dust on them but ended up having a few and tossing the rest when my kids balked at finishing them.

  2. March 30, 2019 1:07 am

    Hi Daniel! It’s really cool to connect here and on Yelp. Thank you! I’m enjoying your blog :) Take care and I’ll see you on Yelp!

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