I write about it. I take pictures of it. I produce a lot of it to sell at bazaars and farmers’ markets.
But beyond that, it doesn’t occupy my thoughts.
I’m one of those people who just doesn’t get hungry; it never occurs to me to stop and eat, even less, to plan in advance what I am going to eat.
If it weren’t for Bo, my husband, I’m pretty sure the cupboards in my house would be bare. He’s the one who makes lists and faithfully carts home groceries. He’s the one who frets over freezer space and expired milk.
So when Bo tells us he’s leaving town for any extended period — say, more than a day — the kids worry. Not about him, but about themselves.
It’s never: “Oh Dad, we’re going to miss you.” Or: “Yay! Home alone with Mom!”
It’s always: “But what are we going to do for food?”
I mention all of this, because Bo is presently Off Island. My daughter Brittany is here, stuck home with me and an empty refrigerator.
Of all our children, Brittany is the most cunning. By day three of Bo’s absence, she had a strategy that went something like this: When Mom picks me up at the gym at 6 p.m., and we drive by Safeway on the way home, I’ll tell her we need groceries, and she’ll stop.
It didn’t work. “We still have a box of pasta and that big beet I bought at the Farmer’s Market,” said I.
Brittany had a back-up plan. “But you need to write a column, Mom. Safeway has a deli.”
No dice. “I already wrote about Safeway’s deli.”
Brittany’s Plan C: “But you haven’t written about KFC/Taco Bell.”
Hmmm. That one got me. “True …
“… Naw. We have that beet.”
Brittany resorted to pure emotionalism: “For the love of God, pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaase stop at Taco Bell!”
This is how we ended up at KFC/Taco Bell.
I don’t mean to say I have anything against the place, or wouldn’t have stopped there on my own — eventually — without Brittany’s theatrics. It’s just that of all the types of food I never think about, fast food is at the bottom of the list.
Not having been exposed to it as a child, I never developed a taste for it.
So Brittany and I stood at the counter, she looking satisfied and I feeling bewildered. The menu was posted so high. Everything seemed so bright and clean. Where was the little Chihuahua who was the Taco Bell mascot the last time I even entered this kind of a restaurant?
The employees at the counter dealt with me in the friendliest, most professional manner possible, even those I’m sure I drained their reservoir of patience with my stupid questions.
And how long it took me to decide! I could hear Bo saying, “Gee. Grandma was slow, but she was 90. Order already!”
I decided on the Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme combination meal. The young people at the counter cast sideways glances at each other. I grew up on Tex-Mex, I assured them; I can handle the so-called fire.
I took the Combo to go, so I could enjoy it at home with one of the fresh tomatoes I had just bought at Cost-Savers and a huge dollop of JuJu’s salsa purchased at the Farmers’ Market.
I dug through what seemed to me a superabundance of product packaging and extracted three tacos that were red enough to seem dangerous. In fact, I discovered as I bit into one, the redness was enhanced by a powdery spice, orange in color but tasting of lime. Interesting.
But not hot. The heat came later. In fact, each bite made the ensemble — the spicy ground beef, the shredded cheddar, the sour cream and the tomatoes — more intense. Intensely flavorful, but not too fiery hot.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention the lettuce. The lettuce was, in fact, beyond its prime. Once I removed all traces of it, I could experience the good flavor of the meal without the sour taste.
Likewise, the fries, part of the combo meal, were not a highlight. I put these on the deck rail for the crows, who, like Brittany, need reassurance they won’t be starved half to death during Bo’s vacation.
So, Brittany was right; KFC/Taco Bell was a great dinner stop. I’ll probably eat there again, though I’ll order my tacos à la carte.
Someday, I may try the Doritos Flamas chips that inspired development of my tacos locos. I might like them. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Suzanne Bobo is co-author with Brittany Tregarthen of The Road Going: A Mother, A Daughter, An Extraordinary Journey, available at online booksellers. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.