I have an awful confession to make: I like Taco Bell.
Well, wait just a minute. Let me amend that. I like the food at Taco Bell.
My commute is anywhere from a half hour to an hour each way depending on traffic, but there really aren’t that many dining options between work and home. When it comes to fast food (or “quick service” as they prefer to be called these days), it really comes down to Dairy Queen or Taco Bell. When pressed for time, I usually pick Taco Bell.
I like the Fresco tacos, even though I think calling it a “weight loss program” is a pretty big stretch. I just tried the “Cantina” tacos, and the pork one was actually quite tasty.[Then again, I currently have a bizarre yogurt, cilantro and lime fixation happening. I’ve eaten more Cuban and Indian food this summer than I think I have my entire life, just to get my fix. Also, I’m drinking a lot of limeade. But hey, at least I’m preventing scurvy.]
But the local Taco Bell is an oddity in one respect. They have to employ the slowest fast food workers I’ve ever seen.
My dad told me once that when it comes to restaurant kitchen cleanliness, it’s not about the prices on the menu. It’s all about whether the customers can see the kitchen or not. He did a ton of restaurant stainless steel fabrication work during his career, and he’s been in almost every kitchen in Louisville at one time or another. So I pretty much trust his opinion on the matter.
You can see into the kitchen at this Taco Bell pretty clearly. What you mostly see, every time I’ve been, is a group of teenagers who look dazed and unusually relaxed considering the venue. They’re mostly just standing there much of the time, with a vaguely disoriented look that says “what was I doing again?”
Don’t get me wrong, people. I don’t expect a gourmet experience from a fast food chain. Heck, I don’t even really expect good food, if we’re being honest.
I do sort of expect the food to be, well, fast. Given the name and all.
At one point last night, I really expected one of the customers to just say “You know what guys? I know what goes into that thing I ordered. I can see the ingredients from here. I’m just gonna come on back there and throw it together myself. I’ve got other places to be tonight.”