Mark Dery says:
"Salon.com just posted my personal essay "Remembrance of Tacos
Past," a cultural critique-cum-social history of Taco Bell that
attempts to illuminate the mystery clouding the American Mind: How can
a partial-birth monstrosity like Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme survive
in a country flooded by Mexican immigrants, where the Real Thing
(authentic Mexican food) is easier and easier to find, at least in most
Before I bite into my Original Taco, I perform a "CSI"-like necropsy of it, anxiously examining what the Taco Bell menu insists is "crisp, shredded lettuce" and what I insist is limp, dispirited lettuce. Dissecting it with my fork, I probe the "real cheddar cheese" (accept no substitutes!) and tiny mound — a tablespoonful or two, at most — of what is purportedly "seasoned ground beef."
I think of the Carolina highway patrolman who found a freshly hawked lunger, courtesy of one disgruntled employee, dangling from one of his Taco Bell nachos. I think of the scores of people poisoned, in 2006, by the E. coli outbreak in Taco Bells throughout the nation. I think of the plague of rats gamboling contentedly around a Greenwich Village Taco Bell; NBC reporter Adam Shapiro described one showboating rodent climbing onto an upside-down stool, then dangling from it "like a gymnast." Cute, in a Willard meets "Ratatouille" sort of way.
With these thoughts as an amuse-bouche, I take my first bite. I chomp through the millimeter-thin shell, flavorful as corn-fed cardboard and eerily crunchless in the soggy-armpit humidity of a New York summer. Chewing, I ruminate on the L.A. Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold's comment to me, "I don't think there's any such thing as authentic Mexican food" — this from a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic who also told me, with palpable excitement, about his lard connection, a guy who sells "manteca de carnitas … the liquid lard rendered in the process of making carnitas [fried pork], liquid gold. I fried a few batches of chicken in it last night, accompanied by fiery red salsa and homemade tortillas, and I'm pretty sure I saw god herself."
Previously on Boing Boing:
• Mark Dery's reading list
• Mark Dery on toes
• Mark Dery on the netporn crit conference
• Mark Dery on the "Not One More Damn Dime" boycott
• Mark Dery's Wunderkammer
• Mark Dery on spam literature
• Mark Dery on Paradise Lust
• Jonathan Gold praises lardo
• Jonathan Gold on Okonomiyaki (aka Japanese pizza)
• Dorkbake competition wrap-up