We ring in the new year (pronounced “twenty-eleven”) by pondering the “homeless-announcer-guy-with-the-’golden-voice’” phenomenon and taking callers a-plenty. The Idea Guy and Vlad offer their services. City workers Toucan and Charlie heatedly tell us know how the snow job’s going. Then, it’s a rocky road to play the pajama game with Mr. Patel.
I did something that I can’t take back – that I can never take back – that I can never take back.
It is rare that I go into my little eating adventures under such a pall of nervousness – but – the day that I stumbled into the roadside attraction that is my nearest neighborhood McDonald’s with the intention of eating the McMarketing McPhenomenon that I had been hearing about for years and years, I knew that things would never be the same again. I had never had a McRib and I was terrified.
Yeah – no – seriously. I – the person that has made it one of my life’s missions to go out and eat the ridiculous – had never eaten a McRib. It seems McRidiculous.
I’m going to try to drop the “Mc” prefixes for a minute – to try to make this review easier to read than the meal was to eat. Indeed.
I knew very little about the McRib – other than it was oval, it was slathered with bar-b-que sauce and there were “bones” pressed into it. I had never been able to wrap my brain around this “pork” bar-b-que sandwich – and what pressed in “bones” meant. I was afraid of what I didn’t know. I was afraid to go into the night. Into the dark, dark, darkness.
I got my box – yep, it comes in a box . . . so there is some class in that – and I opened it. Absolutely no love went into the mess that I was looking at. There were only two pickles – so a third of the sandwich would be pickle free – much to my chagrin – because pickles have a way of making everything in the world a little bit better – vinegar will do that. There were also only about ten small pieces of onion – which left vast swaths of creepily textured swimming-in-sauce meatstuff bare for my imagination to behold. The “bones” were beyond as odd as I figured that they might be.
After twelve and a half minutes, I realized that I had been quietly sitting – just looking into the abyss that was going to be my lunch. I gulped, my hand went out and I took hold. It was either going to be the best thing that I had ever eaten – in which case I would rue all of the wasted years of my life . . . or – it was going to be the end of me. There was no way that there was going to be any kind of grey area with this thing – – – other than the pearlescent grey area between the bun – where the patty was supposed to be – that I noticed after taking my first bite.
Speaking of the first bite – I made sure to get some pickle and some onion – to make sure that I was getting a best case scenario. The bun was a bun. There was nothing special about it – but – it also didn’t let me down at all. I certainly wouldn’t kick it out of my bread box – if I found out that it had run away from the terrible life of holding a pressed piece of hell for the rest of it’s short time on the Earth. I would sit that bun down – and I would let it know that everything’s going to be okay. Shhhhhhhh, Little Bun, everything is going to be a-okay.
I may have been traumatized by the McRib. It may have been too much for me. It may have been too much.
I hit a wall on the third bite. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to finish it. It was terrible on so many levels that my brain stopped being able to process the errors that were pouring in. Maybe it was a texture thing – because the bread, onions, pickles and sauce were fine. Maybe the pressed “bones” idea was still getting to me. I wasn’t going to be able to finish.
My meal came with a small Coke. I was miserable at myself for not getting a larger Coke . . . I could have taken a bite and then taken a swig and then taken another swig and so on. Instead – I had to take several bites in between getting to take a drink. I wished that I had a pool filled with Coke – that I could have taken a dive into after every bite. I needed the taste distraction. I needed the acid to combat the misery that I was ingesting.
Eventually, I took my last bite. I had eaten the whole thing. I had beaten this particular dragon down. And then it hit me. I didn’t feel so good. My reaction was so quick and so violent that I wasn’t really sure what to do. I was feverishly driving home – like a wild animal running from a forest fire. My stomach was cramping. My mind was sprinting to try to come to terms with what I had just eaten. I was sweating. I feel like I could have stopped on the way to McDonald’s, poured a little bar-b-que sauce onto a pickle – with a bit of onion and licked a skunk and I would have been better off. At least slightly.
I got home and heartily embraced my hero – Extra-Strength Pepto-Bismol – and after a little bit of hang-out time on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor (full disclosure here – I didn’t explode – I was just too queasy to move any further) I was good(ish) to go.
Now – speaking of heros. Let me be your hero here. Let me get up on my pedestal of protection and scream to you to avoid getting – or even walking past – one of these sandwiches. They are some sort of potentially hazardous maybe extraplanetary pressed evil – only put onto this planet to hurt your stomach’s very soul. Stand down, back away and know that you will be a better person for it.
As if to taunt me further – a commercial for the McRib – a regular siren song – just played on my television. I watched the commercial. I looked at the sandwich. My eyes started to water and my stomach turned away like a cowed cur in a cage.
I know that I promised to avoid the use of McDumb McPrefixes – – – but – – – the only way that I can wrap up this review is with one super-appropriate word – and that is to say that eating the McRib made me feel nothing more and nothing less than McNasty.
For my entire life, I could hear someone say the words “corn nuts” and I would feel compelled to leave the room. They sounded like old broken people – who were made up old stale beer- who lived in a beat down dive bar – who I didn’t want to meet – or know – or smell – or anything.
I feel like I need to clarify a couple of small points . . . I am a big fan of corn and I am also a fan of dive bars – so – don’t you jump all over me. Don’t you do it.
I was at a party of some sort and I saw a bowl full of little crunchy golden bits – and – I decided that the moment had finally come. I popped one in my mouth and had the initial feeling of something hard in my mouth and the taste of salt on my tongue. I bit down and was astounded at how it was literally a kernel of corn – but bigger and infinitely crunchier and tastier.
Hopefully I’m not being overly dramatic here – but – seriously – this has been a major change in my life and I’m still a little shaken by the whole thing.
My mind was racing trying to figure out if it was a healthy treat – or – if I would be able to at least pretend that it was healthy . . . but it turns out that is a losing battle – these are not healthy treats. I then decided that I needed to know more about them – like where they came from – how they were invented – and why I had avoided them for so long. I did some research for the first two quandaries and found that they were invented by Albert Holloway in 1936 and were a huge hit for bars because of their cheap salty goodness. They are made by soaking corn kernels for a few days in water – which is where the puffiness comes from – and then dropped into hot oil – which is where the crunchy crispiness and the not so good for you part comes from.
The last part – the “why had I avoided them” part is the real conundrum . . . and it is a mystery that I will only be able to solve after deep personal introspection of staring at myself in mirrors . . . and also after eating several more bags of my favorite new snack . . . the corn nut.
So – everyone – drop whatever inhibition is holding you back from these delightful golden chunks of corny goodness and get to eating them – eating them – eating them. I can almost guarantee that you will be happy that you did.
Quickly – I feel like I should point out that I have only had corn nuts from Fairway Market, Whole Foods and that bowl at the party that I mentioned before – so – I am not sure about the different levels and varieties of corn nuts that are out there in the world – but – I am thrilled that they are out there – because I aim to meet them and great them and eat them as I find them. All I know is that the corn nuts that I have eaten have given me a real twinkle in my eye and a slightly fried corn tinge to my breath.
As for me?! Well, now – I aim to learn how to create them at home.
I faced down the sourest drink in the land and came out plum puckered.
Maybe you read my review of the Taco Bell Cherry Limeade Sparkler and wondered out loud to yourself “Hmmmm . . . Seems odd that he would go right for the Cherry and skip the Classic Limeade Sparkler.” And, I would tend to agree – except – that there was something extra dubious about the Classic – with it’s neon green glow. The way that it sat there with it’s unwavering gaze on the poster – staring – beckoning – I was honestly not sure what it was offering – and – I was even more unsure if I would be able to handle it – regardless of what it was. The whole situation made me so unsure – that I have been driven to write even more run-on sentences than I ever imagined possible – and – believe me – I can imagine a world overrun by run-ons . . . like kudzu in the deep south – taking over everything – engulfing – obliterating.
Sorry – my Grandmother’s house (where I mostly grew up) has been long abandoned and eaten by a wave kudzu . . . It is a sad site.
So – you see – this Classic Limeade was all up in my grill . . . playing mind games with me. It’s aggressive stance and it’s boardwalk dance were more than I was ready to deal with. I went for the Cherry – and I still contend that it was one of the best drinks that I have ever had – even the one that I had where the drink machine was in the restaurant – and the girl behind the counter put 4 squirts of red into a cup and said “Add ice and Sierra Mist.” I stared at her dumbfoundedly – this was a premium drink (in price and quality) and I was being made to make it? I was being given the keys to the kingdom? Well, I took those reigns and rode that horse to happy drink land . . . Which was great until she called me back over and said “Here.” and dropped a wedge of lemon in my cup. LEMON?! No – no – no. It was supposed to be lime – the photo has a lime – the commercial has a lime – the world isn’t quite right if it isn’t a lime. The drink – however – was still a treat. It persevered.
I eventually got up the guff – raised the cackles on the back of my neck – and got a Classic Limeade Sparkler. The entire time, I was looking at the poster of the Cherry. I was Mister Natty Nervous. The drink came out – with the proper lime wedge – and I took a sip. Bling-o, Blamm-o, Bloom-o – it was one of the sourest drinks that I’ve ever had. It has to be the drink that Sourpatch Kids drink in place of Gatorade . . . they probably even dump coolers of it on their Sourpatch coaches heads at the end of Sourpatch sporting events. My brain couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on – I tried to shake the cup to mix the sour green in with the Sierra Mist – but it was too full. I then got smart and moved my straw out of the danger zone and lowered the level of the beverage . . . it was not going to beat me . . . no way.
I drank and I shook and I drank and I shook. Eventually, it got to the point where the Sierra Mist was so overpowered that the shaking stopped doing any good – and so, I just drank. I started looking like a dog who had just been given tart raspberry jam – just smacking my lips and tongue to try to maintain all senses of feeling in my mouth. I could have had the Cherry – I could have had the Cherry . . . but – for you guys – I went Classic all the way – and boy did Classic make me pay.
On their website, Taco Bell goes a long way towards running it home that the use REAL limes and REAL lime juice . . . even going so far as to capitalize on the “REAL” twice – because that makes everything all that much more REAL . . . Well – my review of this drink is about to get as REAL as I can possibly get. Unless you are a prickly pear, a sourpuss, a cat with a lisp or a face in need of a serious pucker job – then I highly recommend scooting just a little bit over on the Taco Bell menu and ordering the Cherry Limeade Sparkler – because the Classic? It’ll hurt you.
One crazy thing that I need to bring up – after having a few of these Sparklers – is that Taco Bell insists on using the straws that are designed for a drink with an ICEE consistency. The straw has that little flipper of a spoon on the end – which means that you are automatically missing out on the last inch – or so – of your drink . . . and this makes no sense whatsoever. I have started saying “No thank you” to their offering of their malformed straw and moving over to grab a real straw for myself . . . I suggest that you maybe should do the same for yourselves. Take charge of your drinks. Straw revolution!
A quick side-note, after writing the bulk of this review – and getting depressed – I went to my Grandmother’s old house with several large Classic Limeade Sparklers in tow – I put them into a garden sprayer and sprayed down all of the kudzu that had overtaken the house. I am happy to say that the kudzu pulled back with amazing speed – almost looking puckered. I now know the ultimate proper use for this drink – fighting the scourge of kudzu . . .