Frank Bruni went on the road trip of dreams: he traveled down from here to Florida, and then headed west to California. All in a rented Taurus. But it gets better. His mission? To eat fast food behind the dashboard every step of the way. I commend him on his effort. Unfortunately, in typical Bruni fashion, he mucked it up by sometimes eating at the nationals, which prevented him from eating at more local chains. To wit: In his top 10 he includes Wendy's chili, which is NOT chili. First of all, it has beans. Beans! Chili should never, ever have beans. Second of all, it's made with ground beef and some tomato-based stock. Real chili is made from chopped chili chuck with no tomatoes. So Bruni reveals his ignorance by listing Wendy's chili in his list of Top 10 "regional" favorites. An A for effort (and how I wish the Times had paid me to make that dream of a road trip) but a C for execution. He does hit some obvious places such as In N Out and Taco Cabana, but fails to spend to spend much depth in exploring the competition, such as Carl's Jr. and Taco Bueno. And I'm sorry...multiple listings from Culvers and he didn't even try Grandy's, a true Southern gem in its effort to make chicken fried steak a fast food? Oy!
I do applaud his adulation of the DQ Blizzard--a very fine combination of ice cream and whatever pleases you. (At least he had the smarts to not even compare it to Wendy's Frosty). But what about the other items on the DQ menu? Blizzards are a relatively late offering to its repetoire: it was making stellar burgers and chicken fried steak sandwiches long before it decided to dip into ice cream.
I guess I'm just disappointed that Bruni tried to take on too much, and came up with very little. Regional fast food is a fascinating subject, and hopefully whatever well-paid national journalist decides to takle it next time, won't be swayed by the big boys and will keep it local.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Posted by Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) at 9:57 PM