Wednesday, January 8, 2014

fast food follies, part 3

(part 1) (part 2)

It's already written, so I might as well finish it up.

Church's Chicken
I hate to say it, but this is a chain that believes that only ghetto-dwellers eat fried chicken, because I've never found an outlet anywhere else. Apparently they decided that East San Jose wasn't downscale enough for them (or was it that it had too many Mexicans and not enough Blacks?) because both their outlets there abruptly closed several years ago, and now there aren't any less than 50 miles away. In a way, I kind of miss sitting there in a booth, quietly eating my chicken, when some guy would slip into the seat on the other side of the table and try to sell me some cocaine. That never happened anywhere else. But the chicken was pretty good, a change from KFC in the days before Popeyes, as long as they didn't try to dress it up. Church's attempts at spicy or whatnot were inevitably disastrous. Just get the plain original chicken.

Long John Silver's
There's a local KFC which doubles as a Long John Silver's, and that's my only experience with it. I tried the fish. Once.

Krispy Kreme
A Southern chain which arrived here with great fanfare some years ago, temporarily generating lines even longer than the ones outside the new Chick-fil-A. Someone brought in some of the donuts to work and insisted we try their wonderfulness. Now, I like donuts, and I've been a regular patron of the local independent donut shops. The Krispy Kreme was the most repulsive, oversweetened, body-less, and utterly vile donut I've ever had. And that's when it was fresh and piping hot. Eaten when cool, it was far worse than that.

El Pollo Loco
I found this chain in LA in the early 80s, and then, like Popeyes a few years later, it followed me home. (The name may be freely translated as "Psycho Chicken," which was the title of a parody version of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer." I don't know if there's a connection.) I ought to eat here more often, because, as long as they don't leave it on the grill too long, the chicken is tasty, and it's unquestionably better for you than anything fried, but it is awfully expensive for what is just a little char-broiled chicken. I usually order an off-menu item whose existence I discovered long ago: the "wing-lovers' special" - 3 or 4 wings, depending on how generous they're feeling that day, plus the usual sides, for $5.

Boston Market
Another chain that followed me home - I discovered it when attending a late-80s Readercon in Worcester, Massachusetts, a city with, outside of the hotel, all the ambience of a bomb site and as many places to eat, so I subsisted on driving across the town limits to the neighboring towns which all had Boston Markets, and soon afterwards they started appearing here. It's another place I'd eat at more often if there were more around. The rotisserie chicken is always meltingly tender, even the breast meat, and there's a wide selection of tasty and healthy sides. But they should stick to what they know: recently they introduced ribs, and they were the worst ribs ever: so hard I couldn't cut them with a knife. I sent them back and got chicken in their place.

In-N-Out Burger
Another chain from elsewhere introduced here with great fanfare, to my mystification when I tried it, which I did several times to ensure it wasn't a freak occurrence. The burger was piled high with all the stuff I don't want on a burger, and the on-menu options were limited (I subsequently learned there's an elaborate list of off-menu choices, none of which quite do it for me), and somewhere hiding in among it all was a small, overcooked, tasteless beef patty. This must be the burger that the famous Wendy's "where's the beef?" commercial was intended to parody. On top of which, the place's name sounds like a laxative.

A fundamental memory of childhood that I hardly visit any more because there are hardly any around any more. What's it still doing on the top 50 list? There's better ice cream, but it was certainly good enough.

The only mystery about Wingstop is why I don't eat here daily, especially considering that the nearest outlet is closer to me than any of the others. I love chicken wings, they cook them well, and the flavorings are tangily delicious and work well with the meat, qualities conspicuously absent in most other chicken-wing vendors, many of which are really more like bars with chicken wings attached. Well, Wingstop is expensive - and doesn't have discount days - and I think if I ate here often, I might get tired of it, which I don't want to happen. So I save it for a very occasional treat.

Jamba Juice
There's one of these at Stanford, and a few times I've dropped in when I could really use a hearty juice. There's a couple of combo juices that actually don't contain anything I dislike.

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