On Putting Fritos Into a Sandwich

Hey guys! It’s been awhile since I ate some junk food for you! Actually, there’s going to be a couple of these in short succession, but the Taco Bell Breakfastmaggedon is something I’m going to have to work my way up to, so I’m starting easy.

Subway has a chicken sandwich with corn chips on it. That’s about as easy as it gets.

I have a similar relationship with Subway to that of most people I know – it’s a place to get a sandwich that won’t cause a coronary thrombosis and that also has a bunch of vegetables on it because, hey, healthy1! Of course that isn’t true, but in the world of only wanting to pay five bucks for lunch, we tell ourselves whatever lies we must.

So let’s talk about this sandwich in the way it’s assembled. In case you’ve never eaten at a Subway – in which case, why would you start now? – the bread is kind of a weird hyperamalgam of all the things that are wrong with commercially-produced bread2, but improved somewhat by having pretty good texture3 and generally taking any flavor you apply to it. I got the jalapeno cheese bread because I hate that my heart still pumps blood through my body and also it seemed more enchilada-y. It was fine. The bread doesn’t factor much into the rest of this except it was the only part that was spicy, and this is a goddamned enchilada sandwich.

Chicken is generally something I can get behind in the Subway world – it’s inoffensive, which is generally the best thing you can say for the meat in those sandwiches – and occasionally has a worthwhile sauce4, so the idea of starting with the chicken is a strong one. The chicken is then shredded and then I’m going to have to say “soaked” in enchilada sauce. It’s not particularly wet, mind you, just completely saturated. It must be strained out of excess liquid before it’s put into the offering trough5.

Pepper cheese, lettuce, green pepper, onion, tomato. If I’m going to do an enchilada-themed sandwich, I’m at least going to come to the party with the proper mindset. Then they asked if I needed any condiments. As much as the idea of dumping mayonnaise (or, oh god, “lite” mayonnaise6). Then after everything is on the sandwich, the sandwich lady opens up a bag of fritos and dumps them over the top of it. That’s fine, that’s the sandwich I ordered. I don’t know why I expected they’d have a special supply of fritos that weren’t “the fritos I could just get with the sandwich” but hey, I’m not a Subway sandwich-designer.

It is, approximately, a five minute walk from the Subway to the desk where I am writing this. In that time, the leftover moisture from the other sandwich components all ganged up on those poor helpless corn chips and meant that I was, essentially, eating a sandwich topped with polenta. Or, like, what the same people that commercialized mayonnaise would call polenta. It was….not actually very good. But the chicken was ok. The sauce was oddly sweet and tasted primarily of cumin and sugar, but those aren’t bad things for a sauce for chicken.

In fact, thought I, the sandwich would primarily benefit from crunch and salt. Exactly the qualities that the Fritos were supposed to provide, had they not disintegrated into Frito mush in the time it took me to fetch the sandwich.

So, armed with a plan, I went back several days later and ordered the sandwich, exactly as outlined above, except this time with the bag of Fritos as a separate transaction. I then sprinkled them on myself, and found the other problem: an important part of the process of embedding the chips into the sandwich is the whole shebang being wrapped into the wrapper and carried (presumably even the ten or so feet to a table would do the job). The chips that didn’t fall out entirely had to be smashed into the sandwich manually, which meant that the bread got more and more destroyed over the process of eating it7.

So in the end, what we had was an ok idea (full points for the idea of the enchilada sauce on the chicken, it’s a flavor avenue that isn’t oft-explored outside of, y’know, actual enchiladas), that was shackled to a theoretically-not-bad idea (who hasn’t put chips on a sandwich, really?) and marred by the reality that fritos are precisely the wrong chip for this job. Oh, and skip the tomatoes. I don’t know why I never learn to skip the stupid tomatoes.

1 because I’m going to come down pretty hard on Subway here, I’ll take this opportunity to say: I still have every intention of continuing to eat there. We’ll call that my own personal failing.
2 this would be a good time to make a joke about the chemicals in the bread, except all commercially-produced bread is pumped full of stabilizers, preservatives, and all sorts of other things to make it look “good” on a shelf at the expense of being, y’know, actual bread, so the idea that Subway is somehow doing something worse seems disingenuous at best.
3 which, really, is the reason for all the advanced chemistry in the bread to begin with
4 subway chicken sauces in order from best to worst: creamy sriracha, buffalo, barbecue, enchilada*, teriyaki
5 I don’t know what the quarter-hotel-pan-things they keep ingredients in are called, so I’m going with “offering trough”
6 an interlude here to talk about my relationship with mayonnaise: more than any other food product, more even than bread, mayonnaise is impossible to get at a high-enough quality to make it worth eating unless someone has made with their hands. This is impossible to explain, except as an illustration of why ingredients lists are fucking liars. I don’t know what relationship that jar of Hellman’s has to an egg and oil emulsion, but it tastes like water, oil and salt. All you mayonnaise people go do me a favor: crack an egg into a blender, then drop an additional egg yolk, some salt, a squeeze of lemon, and some brown mustard in there. Pour out a cup of oil and drizzle it into the eggs very, very slowly while the blender whips around at, say, medium-high speed. Then eat that, then feel gross because you just ate a whole blender full of actual mayonnaise with a spoon.Then consider the possibility of eating commercial mayonnaise. Oh, and then somehow take some fat out of it, probably by increasing the water content, and tell me how you’d even call that edible.
7 the bread that was meant to be intact, I mean. Obviously the bread I was chewing on was also destroyed. You know what I mean.

On Absences

Hey guys! Big stuff happening over at the ONAT compound, so my absence has been as hard for me as it has for you. Hopefully the podcast has held you all over, and I’ve got some stuff coming down the pike1 that should make you all feel like you’re again bathing in the warm glow of run-on sentences and inscrutable opinions about metacultural minutiae2!

As a palate-cleanser, here are some notes in my Big Stuff to Write About file that I’m fairly certain aren’t actually going anywhere:

– “What does Mike Kinsella think he’s doing?”
This is mainly a reference to the reunited Owls, and the recently-announced reissue of the American Football record. Which means he’s, y’know, got like two albums coming out, only one of which he actually had to record. Which apparently I thought meant I should write about it. Maybe if Cap’n Jazz gets back together.

– “Apparently the rise in people making records by themselves has made for records that actually sound better than when people were recording digitally in proper studios”
It’s because people who barely know what they’re doing primarily work to make the thing sound accurate, rather than fancy, and that makes for a better record. This didn’t work because nobody wants a two-sentence blog post.

I swear all the time in my blog entries, I have no idea why I don’t swear in my notes. Besides, there’s a more nuanced take on this that’ll find its way into a post going up soon.

– Paella pie, a pagan paean
I think this one goes without saying. Still though: a paella pot pie would be pretty wicked3. I’m not pagan, and I can’t write a proper paean, but wordplay.

– My balanced and nuanced take on the everlasting and god-awful “likable characters” debate
There’s certainly a debate to be had here that could even be interesting. Unfortunately in the state that the argument is in at present, it’s “women are the worst” vs. “women are the absolute worst”4 and who wants to be a part of that?

– The Golden Raspberry Awards, The MTVU Woodies, the Independent Spirit Awards
Every year I figure out which awards shows I’m going to write about, and every year these are the big ones that I consider and decide against, each for a different reason: The MTVU woodies are endearingly tiny, but ultimately they’re pretty boring, and MTV already does two much, much better awards shows a year. The Independent Spirit Awards are barely a real awards show, being as they are the kind of “cooler younger cousin” of the stodgy old Oscars. I reserve the right to try to figure out a way to write about the Razzies, but I can’t promise it’s ever going to happen.

– Why do people get so angry about mobile gaming?
1) I see no reason to start writing about video games at this point and 2) the people to whom this issue is important are even worse than the “likable characters” people. If this question makes no sense to you, please understand that you are living a life free of some of the most annoying people on the planet, and rejoice.

– Living in America and thinking football is painfully stupid is like being a chipmunk on a hamster wheel
I assure you all that I wrote this sentence, thinking that this was going to be my entre into what would most-assuredly be a mind-expanding and thoughtful attempt to convey some Real Truth about football. Unfortunately for us all, I have no fucking idea what I meant by that. Did I have a stroke and then just write all the words I could think of in order? Chipmunks are smaller than hamsters, so it would be harder for them to use the wheel-thing, right? Do I feel like something is harder for me because of my size5? Or like, my metaphorical size w/r/t football? Guys, if any of you have any idea what that sentence could mean, please let me know.

Anyway, somewhat regular posting should resume next week. I promise not to leave you poor little lambs out in the rain like this for a long time again.

1 the way I work is weird, and it means that you’re likely to see something of a rockslide of posts because I’ve got a bunch of things that are near-complete, so those should be finished off fairly soon.
2 with footnotes
3 theoretically the pastry dough would be made out of rice flower and you’d crisp the outside of it up like the bottom of the paella
4 the literary criticism establishment: still the worst after a hundred years!
5 NB: I am by no measurement a small person