Archive | January, 2014

The State of These United States of North Americans Fried Chicken Burrittos Union

29 Jan

Can someone please explain to my why the chicken ain’t  the National of These United State of North Americans bird? Have you ever tasted bald eagle? Did I just answer my own question? (I missed President O’s SOTU. Did I miss this too?)


The perennial front-runner: Turkey, is far too dumb and ugly to be elevated above the status of say the official bird of congress. Verdad,  chicken suggests weakness but only to someone who has  never eaten hot chicken in Nashville.


But c’mon, let’s be honest ‘merica: who refers to acts of bravery, patriotism or congress as “Bald Eagley”.


Unconvinced? Anyone who has ever seen the whites of the eyes of a real live bald eagle – not on TV, the Internet, or zooed – please step to the front of the class…..just as I expected.


Therefore the second law, amendment, favor, creed or dictum or edict – whatever they’re called – I shall pass down once elected President: fried chicken from some day forth shall be the official food of these United States  of North Americans.  The first was obviously outlawing cumin.

Admittedly,  I may sound like a trend-follower, what with fried chicken and waffles now available at Popeyes and Chicago experiencing something of a pollo frito renaissance last summer. But diga me, once I put this shit into law there will be no more fried chicken ‘fads” only beachfront vacations in Guantanamo Bay for anyone who pooh-poohs perhaps These United States of North American’s most significant contribution to childhood obesity, I mean our big-fat-ol’-democratic-collective gut.


Yeah, while last summer when every last foodie and Yelper had been sent running to what from all reports and jpegs looks like fried chicken’s answer to The Shake Shack’s cheeseburger  I chose to explore those deep fired establishments that only make it into the Red Eye Crime Tracker inexplicably ignored in a survey 2013).


Actually, I started checking out these fried chicken shacks , hatchets and all, last winter. I work a swing shift down in the Loop and decent eats are slim pickens


Mira: I am not here to report of my starting the pollo frito trend – among others: The Return of the Rat Tail 2014 – as this blog is mostly committed to both exposing local poseurs and passable purveyors of Az/Chi/Mex comida. Which, as is my practice, brings us in the most meanderingly roundabout way to Chick-Fil-a.


Fried chicken re-flavored forever the epicurial zeitgeist and went from posh to pop the day Chick-Fil-a’s Loop location finally unhinged its rotating glass doors. At the corner of State and Lake where once stood bummed out OTB losers now sit  wide-eyed fried foul feeders, snackin’ as blissed out on yard bird as the Yard Bird was ever blissed out on smack.


Am I the only ex-smoker who sorta wonders where the heck Big Tobacco’s dark and evil forces fled? And am I also the only ex-smoker who thinks perhaps Phillip, RJ and the rest sold their “trade secrets” (READ: highly addictive chemical additives – big fat ol’ democratic collective nicotine vats) to fellow Southerners Chick-Fil-a?

For real, I now must walk away from this blog for a smoke. I’ve had to take up smoking again if only to curb the Chick-fil-a  cravings. I’ve lost weight, am notably bitchier and was doing fine there for a stretch until last Saturday. 7-11 was out of American Spirits and I was early enough for work to pop into Chick-fil-a for breakfast.


Okay, so the smoking thing is a bullshit excuse, a lie I tell myself so I can eat something I wouldn’t blog. This for me defeats the whole purpose of trying anything I haven’t made at home and amazing. I can’t blog every meal but I do pretty much eat Az/Chi/Mex exclusively. The only real exceptions are when my wife cooks or buys and hot dogs. I was raised believing that eating out was a special occasion – until our mom bought a hoagie and pizza restaurant  that flipped the whole equation and I’ve been foodily fcked since.


See what not smoking or eating Chic-file-t does to a brain? (It makes for really poor spelling by cows for one thing.) Look, I was as blown away as the next SouthWesterner my first bite of a breakfast burrito made with eggs, shredded hasbrowns, not my favorite selection of peppers (bell/red) and onions, cheese and HOLY SHIT ARE THOSE FRESHLY FRIED CHICKEN CHUNKS!??!. Yeah, I know I rocked that all caps thing last blog, but seriously, I was ready to rush to the bank, then the store for some sans-e-belt slacks, and call in sick to gorge myself silly on what outside of Taco Bell and my beloved Jack-in-the-Box is the closest approximation to a gringo/Az/Mex mix I might slather into a tortilla at home.  I may even have shouted  afore all-capped words aloud. Addiction can do strange things to a man.

Not really sure. I was so tuned into my headphones/ear muffs to notice. Had cued up for the grubbing:

NOTE: Should you choose a Chick-fil-a ‘habit’ and choose the burrito before moving on the hot chicken bisquit (hell if I’ll ever be able to spell that word) I had also ordeded and you will too – trust me – root around the bag before inhaling. Chick-fil-a, purveyors of not simply nicotine chicken, also offer a selection of additional nicotine delivery vehicles that come in the way of sauces all for the dipping and slathering. Just so the lowly burrito would not feel left out, they’ve designed a damn fine jalapeno salsa. Foolishly, I did not discover this until I was down to my last bite. On my return visit the next day I asked for a few more packs of salsa for future reference.


11 Jan

Once Upon A Time en La Zona Rosa

As both history and literature and cinema would have it: usually, when gringos roll into Mexico, people die. Think Cortez the Indian Killer, William S. Burroughs the Wife Killer, any number of characters ambling the pages of later Cormac McCarthy, Warren Oates in “Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia”.  And even gringo were to not say, meet with The Scythe, according to deeply entrenched gringo myth, event the briefest pass through Mexico guarantees a return to Gringotopia carrying within his bowls the volcanic remnants of a vengeful bout with Montezuma.


All of this morbidity – and a rumor that an unlucky North American tourist recently hailed the wrong cab; his kidnapped, stripped, mugged, raped, scalped, decapitated, charred remains found smoldering near a monument just outside of La Zona Rosa – were the ruminations of a 30-something gringo just outside of La Zona Rosa ordering what are known in the popular Norte Americano gringo press as a “Sonoran-style” hot dog. (Across Mexico seems to me they just call em un perro con todos.)


Like those before me, I’d crossed the line to escape into whatever Mexico chucked at my face, fully intending to survive several amazing meals with many a story to tell and perhaps score a pair of those fashionably insane pointy boots.

For brevities sake, I’ll only mention the food this time out as a singularly miraculous bowl of Xalapa sopa in the time of several natural disasters has already been documented on the blog. But in order to put in that order towards the end of my sojurn I first had to survive what became a sacred communion and/or self-sacrifice with and/or to our great brown neighbor.


I stood slack-jawed as the vendor piled layer upon layer upon layer upon a bacon-wrapped wiener, wondering if this were to be both my first and last supper. So antes taking the first of several thousand bites out of Mexico over the next two weeks I decided to write out a quick in case of emergency note/last will and testament on a napkin.


My name is XXX XXXXXXX. In case I meet my untimely death here in Mexico please contact the following persons:

Call my mother at XXX-XXX-XXXX and tell her I love her.

Call my girlfriends at XXX-XXX-XXXX, XXX-XXX-XXXX, XXX-XXX-XXXX,

XXX-XXX-XXXX ext. XXX and tell them not to wait up.

Call my ex-wife XXXX at XXX-XXX-XXXX and tell her I’ll see her in hell.

Obviously the note went unread.

There two good reasons for this:

1.) When I arrived I learned – immediately and rather terrifyingly – people in Mexico speak & read only Spanish, a beautiful language I only mar at each scribble or utterance. As the back of the note read:

Mi palabra es XXX XXXXX. Yo sin la vida en Mexico, por favor, llamamos las personas en estados unidos:

Mi madre: XXX-XXX-XXXX. Hablar yo amo ella.


XXX-XXX-XXXX ext. XXX. Hablamos yo voy vivir nosotros en los suenos.

Mi esposa equis XXXX at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Habla ella reunirse con migo en infienro.

2.) Had someone read the note it is not unlikely they would have helped me on merry way hell-ward if only to save Spanish from any further torture.


At the risk of sounding like I’m now writing a Harlequin romance about a man and his hot dog eloping to Mexico, washing down the last bite as it rolled around on my wet tongue with an ice cold pull off a green glass bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola, beads of sweat glistening on its rippled torso, so succulent and delicious – I gotta say it felt as if maybe I had died and gone to Heaven. This was my first, my virgin bite, the furthest south I’d ever gone down in Mexico, one of thousands to come. My heart swooned and my stomach let out a peculiar – albeit happy – churn.  I placed into my puckering puss a deliriously amazing perro wrapped in bacon, smothered in pinto beans, drizzling with mayonnaise and hot sauce, jalapeños and cheese – “holy crap, is that fresh flippin’ avocado?”- nestled in sweet and soft roll/bun thing, taking it all in whole, along with a considerable amount of DF soot/smog/pollution/air gravy (the ingredient secreto?) AND I LIVED! (Nary a spot of the trots paid me a visit that eve nor the entire tour. Twas a sacred face-stuffing indeed.)



Yeah, yeah, yeah…this is a blanca dude’s ‘merican blog about Az-Mex and Mexichago food, verdad. But before blogging about a local grubbing out downer I felt compelled to provide readers with my Mexico City hot dog cart street cred. It don’t get more ‘real’ than inhaling un perro todo en DF, okay, maybe if it all went down at a cockfight with Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo feeding me bite after bite during a revolution.


Anyhow….. here in home of the most highly decorated and condimented American wiener, the Great Chicago Hot Dog, I’ve seen signs spring up advertising “Sonoran Hot Dogs” and decided to investigate. Regrettably, I let the Googles do my walking for me and ended up at Big Star in Wicker Park. This highly regarded taco stand advertises once such dog de Sonora. Yelpers love it! (I should have know, right?)

So, let’s forget for a moment how Big Star charges for chips and salsa. Let’s also try to forget that chips and salsa should be free, especially when served stale and straight outta the factory bag.  Surpise! Deleting that memory is a lot easier than one might think.  Simply order the Sonoran Hot Dog. To quote the poets Beavis and Butthead:

Seriously chef? It is really, really, really, really hard to fuck up a hot dog. Big mistake. Especially in Chicago. You plated what would be the equivalent of, I dunno, a pizza made with catsup and Cheez Whiz in Rome, Italy, Ritz cracker crust.


Por favor chef, ask yourself: “How can I possibly not fuck up a hot dog?” Ask again. Make it your mantra. Then get on a plane. Fly to DF. Write out your will. Eat a Perro Con Todo near La Zona Rosa. (Please don’t get kidnapped, beheaded, set on fire, etc.) Return and re-think whatever that rash was you spread on a tube of meat that in flavor and texture reminded this eater of one of those truck stop hot sausages made from pig lips.

Gracias al Senor a new Chicano Batman release is on the horizon. Please make your existential cycles of rhythm make this seem all a bad dream: