Thursday, September 20, 2012

On Further Review, Fuk-this-place -- Chik-fil-A

UPDATE: Turns out Chik-fil-a is just a dik-fil-a. I'm sorry I ever ate there, and retract everything I said about it except for how disgusting the ingredients are; add to the list "intolerance and oppression." I've taken down my pics of their hate-y food.

It turned out I was there on the Hollywood branch's first anniversary, so they gave me a coupon to come back for a free meal. I'm taking suggestions on how to use said coupon to creatively protest them and their whole world view. 

It's all up in the news that Chik-fil-A has re-affirmed its statement from July that it will take money from you no matter who you are or whom you think you can marry, and its perky help will smile and say "please" and "thank you"while doing so. No big news there. More significantly, there are third-hand reports that its foundation, WinShape, "will no longer give to anti-gay organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage." And as of today, Chik-fil-A isn't denying the report.

Ah, the intersection of politics and food, my happy place!

First the politics. It's interesting watching the Commentverse bifurcate on this announcement. Conservatives tend to say three things: One, they're angry at Chik-fil-A turning...well...

...and will now start boycotting them. Mind you, these are the same people who were saying that the liberal boycott of CFA was anti-American, an affront to freedom of speech, shameless intimidation of a private business, etc., but we'll let that go. (Oops, forgot to let it go.)

Two, the liberals won't ever back down from the boycott, because no matter how much the right gives and compromises, the left is never satisfied. (Saw that somewhere, can't find it now, trust me.) Three, why can't this just be about selling and eating chicken sandwiches, not politics?

I can't even begin to dissect the sheer hypocrisy of the first, but I'm ready to disprove the second and dive right into the third:

And I believe in rehabilitation, giving people or even corporations—(sorry, keep forgetting they're one and the same) a second chance. That goes double if said people produce yummy food. If I didn't let go of boycotts, I'd still be nixing grapes and Carl's Jr. because of Cesar Chavez and Carl Karcher, both long dead. (Please don't bring up the offensive Carl's ad campaign, especially the current lesbo sex and BBQ sauce money shot.) Nope, I'm ready to say bygones, and talk about chicken sandwiches. Because when you boycott something and the boycottee caves, you reward them by buying their stuff again. That's how boycotts work. It's dog training 101.

I, L.A. Food Crazy, hereby give up the boycott of Chik-fil-A. The protest seems to have made its point and done its job. I'm cautiously optimistic that my fast food dollars won't go to oppress any of my friends.

So, on to the food.

You might not hear it in polite circles, but Chik-fil-A makes a kickass fast food chicken sandwich. I hear you say, "Not interested, I've had a million fast food chicken sandwiches and they all suck." This isn't technically true—the aforesaid Carl's Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich is delicious—but you're right that fast food breaded chicken sandwiches all suck. Except Chik-fil-A's. They're like the In 'n' Out Burger of chicken: they do one thing, and do it well, which is why the franchise is multiplying faster than teenage girls in red states. (SORRY! I'm off the politics, on the food.)

As Chik-fil-A's ads note, they use a real, whole piece of chicken breast in their sandwich. So do several other fast food joints. The difference is in the batter and the bold flavors of the other ingredients.  What you want to order here is the Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe, which comes with green leaf lettuce, sliced tomato, dill pickles, and pepper jack cheese.

The chicken is juicy, the batter is peppery and perfectly crispy, the spicy jalapeƱo/habanero cheese adds an additional measure of kick (this sandwich is really spicy for a Christian white bread organization. If you're sensitive, you might want to go with the Classic Chicken instead), the brush of buttery oil on the top of the bun is subtle, the Chik-fil-A Sauce is a  tangy addition, and the whole thing just works. Mind you, anyone of the fresh/seasonal/raw/organic ilk should steer clear. The list of ingredients reads like a mid-sixties experiment in astronaut food (impressively, monosodium glutamate appears not once but twice in the list). But the end result is undeniably tasty.

And then there are those waffle fries. What more can you say? They're really good waffle fries, and they've refrained from adding MSG to them.

Finally, there are breakfast items, chicken and pork (it's true, no cows) stuffed into various starches to make breakfast burritos, breakfast bagels, and the vaunted Chick-fil-A biscuit sandwiches.  Me, I just don't think of chicken as a breakfast food, unless it's in embryonic form. (Which just made me think: even a fertilized egg is not a chicken, just sayin'. D'oh!, politics again!) I had the bacon and cheese biscuit, and yeah, that's a damn fine biscuit.

OK, I've said my piece and hit a trending topic. I'm also tired of typing "Chik-fil-A," I'm getting an MSG headache, and to be honest, I'm feeling a little guilty about having dined there, boycott-off or no. Fortunately, I didn't order a soda, and took enough of their dipping sauces to sample that I'm pretty sure they lost money on my transaction.

But seriously, if your at all Chik-curious, it's okay to go and try it now. After all, if our dining options were limited to establishments whose CEOs didn't belong to religious groups that oppress gay people, or discriminate against women, it would be a small culinary world indeed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Funniest Thing a Waiter Ever Said

Sorry, no mouthwatering pics with this post. Just a funny story.

Last night, after taking a visiting out-of-towner to Disneyland, we found ourselves starving at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Never a particularly good combination, but we finally settled on the midscale Uva Bar, which has pleasant outdoor seating right in the middle of the complex.

After my Better Palate and I were hit on by a handsome young hustler ("It's my birthday, do you want to buy me a drink? Or am I not sexy enough? No?... Well, I'll be at the bar if you change your mind." Saw him having similar conversations with other couples the rest of the night. Seriously, this kid works the vacationing middle aged couples at the Disneyland resort? Can you say "The Happiest Ending on Earth?" Anyway...), we took our seats. Sa ordered grilled octopus. Friend ordered a salad. I asked what the special grilled catch of the day.

"It's steelhead trout."

I don't have trout very often, but I love it, so I was pretty much onboard.

"Is it fresh?"

"Yes, of course."

"Is it good?"

"Oh, yes, it's good. It's got the texture of salmon, but it tastes like trout. It's good."

I had already made my choice, so I sort of shrugged at this last comment and took the plunge.

When our entrees arrive, the waiter says "Your trout," and sets down a plate of some lovely roasted artichoke hearts, grilled grape tomatoes and... a nicely grilled piece of salmon. Now like I say, I don't have trout that often, and it had been a long day, so I question myself for a second: I'm pretty sure it's salmon. I check with my tablemates, take a taste. Yep, that's salmon alright.( Don't get me wrong, I love salmon, but I have it at home all the time. I want trout.)

I try to flag down my waiter but he doesn't see me. A manager sees me. "Yes, sir?"

"I was told the fish of the day was trout, but this is salmon."

He looks at the salmon. "Well, I can check with the chef, but I'm sure that's trout."

"Yeah," I say, "Why don't you check with the chef?"

He bows, Fawlty-like, and heads for the kitchen. A moment later the waiter sweeps by to ask if everything is okay, and I say, "Well, you said the grilled fish today was trout."

He looks at the salmon. "Yes, sir."

"This is salmon."

He looks at it again, and says, I kid you not, "It's a special kind of trout. It tastes like salmon, but it's trout."

I say, "What?"

And then he says the funniest thing a waiter not named Manuel from Barcelona  [Ees no rat. Ees hamster. Special, filigree hamster!] has ever said.

He says, "It's half salmon, half trout."


Yes, sir. Half salmon, half trout.

"It's some sort of hybrid? I really don't think so."

"That's what the chef told me, sir."

"That's scientifically impossible," Sa says.

I say, "I would really like the chef to come and tell me that this piece of fish is 'half salmon, half trout.'"

The waiter goes back to the kitchen and returns moments later to apologize, saying he's sorry, it was salmon, it's his fault, they hadn't changed the menu board in the kitchen from the day before, when the special was trout. I nod, although this certainly doesn't explain why the chef thought he was serving an amazing breakthrough achievement in fresh-water fish biology right there at Downtown Disney. Or why the manager, for god's sake, was able look straight at a piece of salmon, and say it was trout.

I also can't help wondering how many other couples were served the salmon-that-tastes-like-trout, without saying anything more than "Hm. This trout sure tastes like salmon, doesn't it, honey?"

I also can't help wondering if any of those fictional couples got the happiest ending on earth.