A confession: On a recent trip to the high-desert town of Cañon City, Colorado, a little town famous for its maximum-security federal prison, I ate fast food.
I ate fast food at three different locations.
I was in town to climb at Shelf Road, an unpaved road that winds through a natural gorge in the mountains. The sides of the gorge are beautiful cliffs rock climbers find spectacular during the winter because they’re in direct sun most of the day.
The one caveat: It’s freezing at night, so camping there in January is rough.
So my boyfriend and I opted to stay in a cheap hotel, and ride out the frigid night in town. As entertainment, we went for a nighttime drive (there wasn’t much to do in Cañon City that night) and decided to taste-test fries from three popular chains: Sonic, Wendy’s and McDonalds.
Food alchemy failure
I haven’t eaten fast food in years, but I was under the impression that it was, well, tasty. Didn’t fast-food chains have a whole team of food scientists that alchemized ingredients like potatoes, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor, dimethylpolysiloxane, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate and more into an explosion of salty, fatty, sugary deliciousness? Deliciousness that’s supposed to be next to impossible to stop eating?
Not so with the fries at any of the chains we sampled. Sonic’s fries were tasteless and limp, Wendy’s and McDonald’s were … better, but had a slight chemical aftertaste—something I haven’t experienced in a long time. And when they cooled a few degrees, they turned gummy. On a whim, I also bought McDonald’s new mozzarella sticks, took one bite of the horrible, stale-tasting sticks and put them down. Bleh. A stomachache ensued later that night.
If you’re addicted to french fries, there’s no reason to ditch your favorite food. Just make them at home rather than buying them from a fast food chain. It’s really fast to slice a tuber, douse the pieces in oil and salt, and bake them at 420 degrees—or if you really want to go authentic, fry them in an inch or so of oil (try coconut oil for a truly decadent side dish).