Eating something that isn’t really there

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September 19, 2010

9:09 PM

While my integrity prevents me from doing a fully fledged Quizno’s review in this space, as I dined with a friend over a Baja chicken sandwich we discussed the feeling of tasting food that’s not really there. Food that, rather than tasting like food that has a flavor, tastes like an edible substance with some arbitrary flavor painted on. A Baja chicken sandwich has obligatory fat, spice, tang and even a hint of texture, but it still tastes like something engineered rather than made. With this in mind I entered the Sadler Center a little before five on Sunday.

I started off with two pulled pork sandwiches and was suddenly reminded of having a mouthful of chemically engineered Baja chicken. While Aramark’s pulled pork isn’t that objectionable, it is not nearly far enough away from the Quizno’s model of serving things with no flavor covered in flavorful sauces. Attempting to fully embrace this idea, I put deli mustard on one and honey mustard on the other, a good dose of hot sauce on both. Further supporting my hypothesis of food flavored substance, they didn’t really taste that different. They had merely convinced my brain that I was eating actual food. Sensations of richness, sensations of spice, followed by sheer confusion.

My main course of ham, a baked sweet potato and fettuccine Alfredo was, to say the least, mixed. I could have probably written a review of the sweet potato without actually eating it as I have had it many times before. Sadly, it was exactly the same as I had remembered. No butter, no spice — just a light dusting of industrial cinnamon that doesn’t really taste anything like cinnamon. Thankfully, the ham was not smothered in its usual candy coating (which I admittedly can never resist) and I experienced the feeling of eating an actual piece of food. It wasn’t great, but it did taste like ham rather than a slice of bologna covered in ham sauce. I usually don’t mind the Alfredo, but something definitely went very wrong in the kitchen this afternoon. I should probably take the blame for this one as I usually cover it in parmesan, but I was feeling a bit sluggish today. Instead of tasting fake, it simply tasted like nothing. Igniting the eternal debate: which is worse?

For desert I had a slice of meat lover’s pizza and apple sauce. It speaks to this meal that the highlight was seeing apple sauce at the salad bar that was not completely infested with the shredded cheese placed next to it. Kitchen secret of the week: tomato sauce and apple sauce make a perfect base for a homemade bbq sauce that requires no other sweetener.

I have to say that this was the first time I have been truly disappointed when writing this blog. When I entered I saw the labels “biscuits” and “sausage gravy” only to realize that there were only dinner rolls and that someone forgot to change it after breakfast. And the Panini machine is still nowhere to be found. Everyone knows that the dining halls are a crap-shoot on weekends, but I had to give it a shot. You blew it.

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