The Burrito Bowl American Dream

With the country’s 239th birthday upon us, let’s the count some of our uniquely American blessings.

  1. We never ever have to make the impossible decision between ice tea, green tea or lemonade.
  2. In the U.S.A., even candy can be reincarnated.
  3. Rather than use the metric system, our fast food brands innovate with their own magic meat math.
  4. Thanks to the #Internet, we have the freedom of choice to go out and buy these and other commercial food items, or make them in the comfort of our own kitchens (with less fluorescent light, arguably better music and a pants/bra-optional policy.)

There are plenty of meals and tastes I’ll never fully be able to recreate at home: the salty/slick mouthfeel of Olive Garden breadsticks, the gooeyness of Eleven City’s patty melt, the palpable guilt of the Cheesecake Factory’s chocolate peanut putter cookie dough cheesecake. But Chipotle, despite being surrounded by a halo of ethical good food vibes, can easily be imitated by a commoner.

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Fear of Frying

I know it’s pretty normal to crave fried food when you’re inebriated, American and/or menstruating.

For me, during around 18 of the 21 regular weekly mealtimes (as well as in between them), all I want are french fries or fried chicken or onion rings or something dredged and drowned (in peanut oil) and crispy. As much as I would likely cease to exist without milk chocolate and the promise of cheesecake or a box of Junior Mints, my aging palette craves the savory foodstuffs more often than not.*

(*Except immediately before falling asleep, when I am consistently plagued by an insatiable desire for the extremely neutral taste of Rice Chex.)

The odds of getting these fried delicacies at home, however, might as well be nonexistent. Without the shelf space for a proper earth-toned Le Creuset pot or the technical expertise for a candy thermometer, my personal frying potential remains untapped. (Let’s be honest, it’s for the caloric best.)

But I couldn’t let any of this stand between me and falafel, and neither should you.

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“I Miss College” Black Bean Burgers

We all have our individual ways of tracking our collegiate memories.

For some, those four years are measured in the number of all-nighters pulled, group projects loathed or close encounters with residence life whilst something non-dorm kosher was unfolding. Others may remember critical turning points: like when you first urinated in front of your friend in a frat house bathroom because the door wouldn’t stay shut on its own and there was also some highly important social news that needed to be expounded on, or when you fell on your ass (twice) in the flooded communal laundry room in front of unchivalrous bystanders.

Like most other chapters of my quarter life, however, I recall those years through a meal-time lens.

How can I forget the (ashamedly) numerous calls to Domino’s because they were the only place that would deliver to campus after 2 a.m. (and everyone needs to try pasta in a bread bowl and live to tell about it.) Or how the dining hall would always serve the stickiest, most unnaturally-colored take on General Tso’s chicken every Sunday night without fail. Or the biscuits I devoured every Tuesday and Thursday morning for breakfast (with previously frozen berries) that, without question, contributed to my midsection’s  sophomore slump.

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