Gustatory Errors.

21 Dec

I tried the KFC Double Down when it debuted on the fetid, garbage strewn vaudeville stage of the fast food theater. This happened for two reasons. Firstly I wanted to experience this new “fuck you” to the obesity epidemic first hand and secondly because Pancha dared me to.

Now it’s not the first time I’ve taken a dare issued by this woman. Back when I showed her Patton Oswald’s stand up bit where he refered to the KFC famous bowl, a bucket piled with mashed potatoes, cheese, corn, fried chicken and of course, GRAVY, as a “Failure pile in a sadness bowl” Her immediate response was:

“So you are going to eat one, right?”

And I did. On our annual road trip to the Portland Stumptown Comic Fest we stopped at a KFC and I stepped up to the counter and ordered up a sadness bowl. Then I ate. the. entire. thing.

I’m sure the photographic evidence is still somewhere on Pancha’s Flickr.

It sat like a chunk of liquid gravy cement in my stomach but really it didn’t taste that bad. It was an edible if not artery hardening meal. So when Pancha called me to, If memory serves, specifically tell me that the Double Down was about to be birthed from some eldrich segment of the fast food marketing world I wasn’t taking it very seriously.

“Oh my god.” Pancha gushed. “Did you hear about the thing KFC is coming out with??”

“Nooo?”

“It’s called the DOUBLE DOWN.” The way she said it I could hear the capital letters pronounced.

“What the balls is that? It sounds like a sex act.”

She was growing progressively more excited on the other end of the phone the way only a vegetarian can sound when she’s about to ask you to do something meat based and foolish.

“It’s two pieces of fried chicken, bacon, jack cheese and Colonel special sauce.

“So, what? The bread is…”

“No. You don’t understand.” Pancha spoke slowly and clearly. “There is no bread. The fried chicken chunks function as the bread.

My only response was:

“Hell, I’d eat that.”

Because why not? Bread is only the pretense of respectability on a sandwich. It’s a burka on a whore. It’s there to shroud the dirty innards  from sight and lend it a daintyness to all of that wonton meat and cheese and mayo. At the time I saluted KFC for giving the American people what we wanted. The truth. We don’t eat sandwiches to feel good. We eat them for that exhilarating numbness in our left arm.

Pancha set the date. She organized a field trip around the Double Down. It was to be myself, her, a boy she was seeing and his two roommates. She drove me into the Inner Richmond district and the appointed KFC of that fated lunch. Four of us stepped to the formica counter that day to do our duty to American gluttony -the fifth opting for an order of potato wedges because she can’t digest meat or whatever.

Sure, we knew what we were ordering. We knew intestinal distress was most likely going to follow and we accepted that we were making a choice out of our own intrepid free will.

What I didn’t expect was how I was going to feel about the Double Down personally.

The kind employees at this particular KFC made our Double Downs fresh just for us. Perhaps they recognized that we were the champagne bottle against the bow of this newly inaugurated fatty ship and wanted to salute our derring do , perhaps it was an attempt at shamefaced pity for us argonauts of food. Either way out the Double Downs came out piping hot and greasy onto our plastic trays.

I ate the first few bites with relish. So greasy! So hot! So crispy! Every thing I could want from fast food! How wonderful! Even better than the sadness bowl!

But after the initial excitement the bloom came off the rose. I felt suddenly feverish, in the grip of the dreaded meat sweats and only a fourth of the way through. I paused.

“What do you think?” Asked Pancha, nibbling on her fucking potato wedge.

“It’s…It’s…” I swallowed my rising gorge and took another bite. A thick, viscous grease ran down my hand, past my wrist and into the sleeve of my jacket. “It’s okay…I guess.”

Everyone else who had ordered this seemed to be doing better than me. Roommate #1 declared it: “Pretty good” and roommate #2 stated that it was “actually pretty tasty” and the boy Pancha was seeing simply polished it off and licked his lips there after. I took several more bites and then sat looking down at the lump of reconstituted fried bullshit in my hand and thought about how the jack cheese had a sort of melted Saran wrap after taste.

Pancha fixed me with a focused look over her potato wedge as the grease cooled and solidified on the bones of my wrist like Colonel Sanders petulant spooge.

Time stopped as I raised the Double Down to my mouth. looking down at the wad of bacon/chicken/cheese/sauce in my chubby fist I was struck with a moment of crystal clarity.

“This is why they hate us.” I thought morosely. “This is why every other country on the planet thinks we are shitty. Somewhere in a cave in Afghanistan a Jihadist holds aloft a photo of this abomination and urges an end to such hubris. Somewhere in France an intellectual is drinking pino noir and bemusedly contemplating America as the new Roman empire…”

In that moment of frozen time and mordant thinking I didn’t want to be sitting at a run down table in a San Francisco KFC with my best friend or think about my comfortable American life. All I wanted to do was to go home, take a shower and be alone.

Yet as alone and ashamed as I felt in that moment, as horrified and embarrassed as this wholely American food product had made me… nothing, and I mean nothing was as bad as the bowel movement I would have four hours later….

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5 Responses to “Gustatory Errors.”

  1. Wood December 21, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    “I went to the drugstore and ate a chicken salad sandwich and drank some coffee. The coffee was overtrained and the sandwich was as full of rich flavor as a piece torn off an old shirt. Americans will eat anything if it is toasted and held together with a couple of toothpicks and has lettuce sticking out of the sides, preferably a little wilted.”

    Raymond Chandler, “The Long Good-Bye”, 1954

    Looks like somewhere in the last 50 years you people gave up on the lettuce and toothpicks. *gulps down whole bottle of pinot noir*

    • Gwen Weathington December 21, 2010 at 2:33 am #

      You will have to visit us in New Orleans to see how far we have truly come! We can supply the Pinot.

  2. Wood December 21, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Of course the reason everybody else hates you guys is not because of what you eat, but it’s that a week after that shit is released in the US, one of these fast food joint will open down the street in Bordeaux, Timbuktu, Baghdad, Bogotá or Seoul, just where that nice mom and pop restaurant used to be, selling that crap you chose to call food for twice the price it costs in the US, and all the kids will rush in to stuff their faces with it.

    Cultural imperialism, I believe it’s called.

    • ahappygoluckyscamp December 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

      First of all I think it’s hysterical that a French man is scolding us on the whole cultural imperialism thing. Second I’ve been overseas and while there are some fast food places I really don’t think they’ve weeded out the mom and pop restaurants. The one I saw the most of was a McDonalds and they were no where near as much of a fixture in other counties as they are here. And I don’t think fast food places are a frequented in other counties as they are here since it’s not as much a fixture of the daily life.

      I think people not from here get an Idea that “that crap we choose to call food” Is only the Burger King Whopper when a lot of us here in the states are pretty raw at the fast food companies for being the only place to eat in some neighborhoods where they can’t even get a supermarket. The fast food moguls are a pack of belligerent business people and should be treated as such but I seriously doubt the cultural identity of the places you mentioned are not going to be erroded by the McNugget. I can only speak from personal experience but from what I saw abroad locals tend to stick to their native cafe’s and restaurants way more than they patron our American chains.

      (And my commenting software is being wonky, so I can’t seem to edit this but hopefully you get the idea.)
      We do a lot of really great food here and I think a lot of Americans are starting to turn away from the fast food places in favor of some more local cuisine. A lot of our chains that are local (And by that I mean state or tri state areas) are really very good. For example For that ubiquitous American burger it’s not McDonalds it’s In&Out Burger like we have on the west coast and for fried chicken forget KFC, It’s all about Raising Canes down in New Orleans.

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  1. Tweets that mention Gustatory Errors. « A Happy Go Lucky Scamp -- Topsy.com - December 21, 2010

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