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Dressed for Success

Up until this soppy cool week, I was on a perverse fast food salad kick. I got it into my head that I’d somehow save money and calories by eating the pre-prepped greens. At least as opposed to those midtown delis with salad bars that I end up going overboard on with mismatched crap (sesame oily green beans, basil flecked tomatoes and pickled jalepeno grilled chicken strips all cavorting in the same plastic take out container is kind of wrong). And I also steer clear of the pick-a-mix tossed salad stations because it’s always a mob scene, I hem and haw over what toppings to choose and then the whole thing ends up costing over $7.

The fast food salad route keeps it under $5 (my ideal lunch limit), comes portion controlled and isn’t crazy unhealthy if you eat half the dressing packet or less (I’d rather eat less regular dressing than more low fat gunk) and skip the croutons. But I do feel weird inexplicable shame when I step through these chain restaurant doors. It’s not like I was raised in a natural foods, anti-establishment family.

So far, I’ve tried McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Au Bon Pain, but this isn’t where I rate and assess—I’ll save that for a different rainy day (besides, Slate already taste tested a few years back. Not that that would stop me from compiling my own results). No, what I’m here for now is to alert the world to a disturbing trend, something wholly un-American.

I’ve decided that the Bacon Ranch Salad is the best of their so-so offerings. I’ve had it maybe four times in the past month, and not once did it come with ranch dressing. Usually, the cashier will just toss something random in the bag, sometimes full fat Caesar, other times low fat balsamic vinaigrette. Today, I took charge of my destiny and asked if I could get the ranch dressing. I’m not even ranch crazy, it just seemed appropriate since the name of the salad implied that particular condiment as a component.

Well, they were out of it. Has it ever even existed or is it so darn popular that by 1:30 pm it had all disappeared? Maybe there’s a ranch shortage in the U.S. (We barely averted a Katrina-induced tabasco catastrophe.) It’s a McDonald’s mystery—and no, I’m not loving it.

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  1. Speaking of Katrina-induced epicurean disasters, is Popeye’s Chicken truly adversely affected? Or are the signs posted in my (Silicon Valley CA) local chain claiming that Katrina may affect the availability of some dishes merely a coverup for someone’s lack of organization (forgetting to order grub) or laziness (not wanting to cook it)?? I still haven’t found an acceptable ‘reason’ why they don’t serve collard greens in the Silicon Valley branch.

    October 18, 2005

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