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12:18 pm | 05 January 2005 | the taco mystique

Note: this entry is kind of gross. Sorry. Thank you.

Until they get their Armenian acts together and open the Zankou Chicken in the strip-mall next to my office, providing me with golden heat-lamped heaps of falafel and piquant, jewel-like shreds of pickled turnips, I have relatively few choices when it comes to lunch. Oh sure, I could pack a lunch, but that requires both preparedness and extra time in the morning: both commodities that I lack. So the strip mall across the street has a crazy-smelling seafood buffet (no), another Middle Eastern joint (Persian?) at which the only vegetarian option is a boat of cucumber dip; a mini-mart where I sometimes bring Dr. J.J. 40s, on Fridays, but has no real food; and one of those Chinese joints that make your skin feel crawly for even standing inside. The strip to the immediate west, at present, contains a Winchell's Donuts (good for midafternoon sugar surges, and for 24oz. coffees that make you shit instantly); a Quizno's sub, bearable only once weekly; a Koo Koo Roo chicken restaurant, where I once at mac & cheese that was vomitous; an Italian joint where you can get floppy 1/4" thick slices for like two bucks; and the most recent, and sinister, addition: The Taco Maker.

In gangsta parlance*, Tha Taco Maker be straight crazy, like, bitch hate me. I've eaten there three times now, I think, and every time something is a little off. It's just greazy Mexican food, offered and served in that magical way also seen at Taco Bell wherein the same 10 ingredients can be rearranged and recombinated to provide 600 options. It seemed safe, you know? Especially since, even if I ate meat, ain't no way I'd EVER touch anything rehydrated in three pots variously marked "Beef," "Chicken," and "Meat."**

The first time I ventured into TMM, I thought a bean burrito couldn't do me wrong, expecting a facsimile of TB's Bean Burrito, in itself an 89 (or 99 if you want a half-pound) miracle of oozy beans, melty cheese product, diced once-onions, and some generic "red sauce" enfolded in a floppy big good flour tortilla, and (if you're me) drenched in Hot sauce (but not Fire, since it tastes like vomit--why they added garlic I'll never know). So damn, now I am all hungry for The Bell, but there is no Bell at The Taco Maker. I get back to my office with the bag and it is a stapler-sized cylinder of beans, like a Twinkie but bigger, shrugging off its tortilla. Just like a bullet of beans, somehow more solid than even can-packed refried beans. Of course I ate it, but as I had guessed, it didn't change noticeably in the digestion process, and I was happy to bid it adieu the next day.

I have had other Taco Maker mishaps (nacho platter=one fist-size clump of non-cheese sitting smugly atop 14-17 greasy chips while a flavourless, baby-pink tomato slice sulks in the corner; a veggie burrito with cauliflower*** (cauliflower!) in it. But what I really want to address is the mysterious power it wields over me. Because today, I am going to The Taco Maker again. I haven't had to eat food from around these parts in two weeks, and yet I will slouch past the Quizno's, past the Italian place, past the stinky chicken joint. I will go to The Taco Maker, and I will try, try again. clm.

. . . . . .

*Of which I become increasingly enamored, despite its weird non-modification of verbs and whatnot; on Power 106 yesterday morning, J. Lo revealed that she had gotten a puppy for Christmas, to which loveable morning DJ Big Boy responded "Just imagine being J. Lo's dog. You have to all call yo' dog friends, say 'I sleep in the biggest bed, eat the best food...and my owner got a ass don't quit!'" Hilarious, and true.
**Lest I should appear to slander The Taco Maker, be it noted that I observed this phenomenon at a Taco Bell.
***Don't fucking insult me with that. Unless served alone as a tasty side dish, cauliflower is and forever remains a filler--the packing peanut of the vegetable world--and its presence in burritos (or in the heinous White Lasagna so popular and tacky in middle-class suburbia) is tantamount to slapping me in the face, seriously.

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