Friday, August 03, 2012

Why Did I Eat This?

If you've been watching the Olympics, you have no doubt seen (or at least fast forwarded through) Lorena Garcia throwing prop spices on prop food to promote Taco Bell's blatant ripoff of Chipotle/Qdoba, the Cantina Bell menu.  The story we're being fed is that the Latina stereotype/current contestant on Top Chef Masters was the inspiration for the new items, drawing from her vast experience with big bold flavors.  Oh yeah, and she's Venezuelan, too.  Not sure how that translates to fast food Tex-Mex (if you can call it that), but the long and short of it is that our border buddies are trying to beat Qdotle (see what I did there?) on price, asking us consumers "Think Taco Bell Can't Do Gourmet?"

Even before trying it, the answer was obvious.  I KNOW Taco Bell can't do gourmet, but I could give a shit if they could.  I go to Taco Bell for Doritos Locos Tacos and Cheesy Gordita Crunches.  I love the powdery taste of the barely beef, the waterlogged lettuce, and sometimes even the horrible abdominal pains that remind you to stay away from it all for as long as you can.

Still, I had to try their attempt at "gourmet,"  and I was curious how the ripoff would translate when it wasn't styled and made to look as appetizing as it does on TV.  Here's a lazy list of what you can expect from their Cantina Bowl if you decide to try it for yourself:

1. Instead of a white ceramic bowl, you get a black plastic tray, so it looks like you're eating a Lean Cuisine from the grocer's feezer.
2. The rice was dry and bland, so I'm assuming it came from a boil-in-bag.  It definitely lacked the butter/oil mixture that gets dumped into the rice at Chipotle.
3. I counted 10-15 beans in total and tasted none of them.
4. Other than a faint hint of lime, the citrus-herb marinated chicken tasted exactly like what you get in their chicken soft taco, and it was just as rubbery.
5. The pico de gallo and corn salsas were definitely from a bag but passable.
6. The lettuce was nice and soggy.
7. The guacamole is presented like the ball of butter on diner pancakes, one cost-controlled scoop atop a messy salad.  It didn't have much taste either.
8. In an effort to keep us fat, the whole thing is topped with a green mayonnaise that doesn't show up in the commercials.

Put it all together and it's $4.29 not well spent.  You can get three Doritos tacos for the same price and you don't have to fool yourself into thinking you're eating anything other than crap.  I applaud Taco Bell's effort and total lack of shame for stealing, but there's really no need for a gourmet Taco Bell.  Buen provecho.

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