Friday, January 17, 2014

A Friday Night Ode to Taco Bell

I'm not high.


I've still never used marijuana. AND I LIVE IN COLORADO, YOU GUYS.

You know what though???

I love Taco Bell.

Love it.

I'm not in college anymore, though I have fond memories of being crammed with far too many people into far too small of a car to make late night runs...only to have us all wake up the following morning telling crazy ass stories about the dreams we had with bellies full of tacos.

I don't love it because the food is good, and certainly not because it's anything close to the authentic Mexican food that I grew up loving in Southern California - you know, the kind where you walk roll out of the restaurant having gained ten pounds. Ahhhh.

Let me just have this moment, you guys.  (I've been trapped in the land of green chile sauce for 9 years)

One of the great downsides to moving away from SoCal is that I moved away from places like that. It took us eight years to find a decent Mexican restaurant here and the honest truth is that my cooking is damn close to even that one decent restaurant.

Y'all haven't lived until you've had my beans. For serious.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about Taco Bell, and it will be. I just needed to have my moment of culinary reflection.

The Bell.

Aside from being hella cheap, I love it. I especially love the Doritos Locos tacos with Fire sauce. Nom.

Most recently I found a reason to adore the Bell because my teeny tiny son, the one who has fallen off the growth chart on for weight a few times, discovered the crunchy Taco Bell taco. He loves the crunchy Taco Bell taco. I feel less guilty about letting him eat them as a parent since they have to put actual meat in there now instead of whatever the hell it was before.

Please don't tell me. I'd really rather not know.

My love of the Bell is longer standing than this recent adoration of the crunchy taco though. It goes back over fourteen years now.

You see, Taco Bell did something no other place could do.

It made my husband eat. It kept him from dropping too much weight too fast.

When he was diagnosed with cancer and learned that he would have to go through fairly intense radiation to his abdominal cavity, we knew right away that it was going to mess with his entire digestive system. He'd already started dropping weight, weight that he didn't really have to drop back then, and it was going to get worse in a hurry. The nurses gave me all kinds of weight boosting ideas, gave me coupons for nutritional drinks, I tried everything I could think of and he wouldn't touch any of it.

A few days in (radiation was daily), we adjusted to the fact that he'd have a one hour window every afternoon, right after his treatments. That was the only hour of the 24 that he'd be even close to hungry. And he wanted Taco Bell.

Specifically, he wanted bean burritos.

He ate one a day for the rest of the time he was in radiation, and most of those days it was the only thing he kept down. I didn't argue with him too much because I figured there were worse things in the world he could eat. It had protein and carbs and cheese, and most importantly, it sounded good to him and he kept it down.

It became so routine that the car just drove itself there every day and the employees started to anticipate when we'd be by.

Ten years later, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. The chemo was hell, the radiation on top of it made everything worse, but that glorious neon bell in the sky came to the rescue again.

He didn't want to eat much, but he craved Taco Bell.

We'd learned not to ask questions long before then.

When we were there to visit, every time we went out, I just brought some home. When I left to take care of him at the end, any trip I made out included a loop of the drive-through. I tend to support the theory that he had digestive fondness for it because when he first started his business and was broke as hell, the lab was right behind a Taco Bell.

Like the muscle memory of a well trained athlete, his body craved what it knew.

Or something like that.

I know it's fast food. I know that calling it food probably isn't entirely accurate. I know it's terrible. I know that the meat wasn't entirely meat for like ever. I know that the shells have GMO corn. I know all that.

I know. So please don't preach at me. I know.

And you know what?

I still freaking adore the place.

Always will.

I'm pretty sure that the food is laced with magic fairy dust....but I'm still not asking any questions.


  1. O.M.G.

    I love Taco Bell!

    I love it totally more than I should.

    I grew up in Arizona, raised and thriving on real Mexican food.

    And I STILL love Taco Bell and want to eat it all the time even though I know it's gross.

    My boys love it and they can really put down some food on a TB visit. Even when they were small, and picky, they'd eat Taco Bell and it was a better choice than McVomit as far as I'm concerned.

    Now I'm craving Taco Bell.

  2. It appears to me that although you mention how everyone likes the food at Taco Bell that this article is really about your father, your husband and yourself and how going to Taco Bell etc was more therapeutic to you and your family in terms of coping and recovering from illness. I am glad that all of you had that outlet to help stay positive during those difficult times.


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