IN THE FAST FOOD LANE
In this recessionary era, patrons of haute
cuisine restaurants have taken
to eating in more downscale establishments. The trend is so great that many of
the finest restaurants have had to rewrite their menus entirely in order to stay
afloat. One restaurant after another has come up with promotional priced
dinners, opened a smaller "café" branch next door, or in some way positioned
itself as being more "value oriented." Truffles, Caviar and foie gras are disappearing from menus in favor of
burgers and grilled chicken. How the mighty have fallen.
Now, it's one
thing for an investment banker, short on deals, to decide to do a little
belt-tightening by dining in the Grill Room of the Four Seasons rather than the
Pool Room. But what of the mighty who have really taken a nosedive? The hordes of Olympia
& York attorneys who are driving cabs? The legions of Amway salespeople,
formerly Drexel employees, who are struggling to make ends meet? For them,
skipping the appetizers at Le Cirque won't do the trick. They may be compelled
to dine out where most Americans eat -- at fast-food joints. But a decade of
lunching at Lutéce and the 21 Club might have rendered them completely out of
touch with the simple cuisine that is served in these economical
How could they be expected to know what KFC Hot
After all, when Drexel started to make money in earnest in the early eighties,
KFC Hot WingsTM were not even a gleam in Colonel Sanders'
eye. Walking into McDonald's or Popeye's today might be as intimidating for some
of these people as the first day at a new school. Entering a fast-food
restaurant would provoke an intense fear of committing a faux
pas -- such as inquiring about the
specials-of-the-day, or offering compliments to the chef (the chef is probably
in Chicago or Louisville). The fast-food industry would be well-advised to
launch a program to make these former yuppies feel at home. A whole new customer
base awaits. And to best do that, they will need to translate the menus of their
restaurants into terms familiar to their new clientele. Herewith is a guide to
economical dining for disenfranchised arbitrageurs.
McDONALD'S "BIG MAC" ($2.99):
marbled ground chuck is sculpted into two patties which are seared on a
cast-iron griddle. The patties are then ensconced in a domed sesame-studded
roll, topped with fresh iceberg lettuce, tranchesof pickled cucumbers, a slab of
cheese, and finished with our specially herbed
On the side,
the chef recommends an order of frites, served with our foil-wrapped
ROY ROGERS "CHICKEN MEALS" (2 pieces for $4.49)
poultry is slaughtered under strict hygienic conditions. Each fowl is then
carved into serving pieces which are dipped in an egg-based batter and coated
with pepper, herbs, and crumbled yeast bread. Finally, they are plunged into a
searing-hot vegetable oil bath to retain their moisture. Served with puréed
potato under a chicken stock based sauce, a biscuit, and marinated fresh
*10 cents supplement for all white meat.
McNUGGETS" (6 for
Our poultry is carefully deboned and then only the
breast and thigh meat are selected. The meat is minced and blended with eggs,
spices and stone-ground cornmeal. Our chef then shapes the mixture into boulettes which are plunged swiftly into
sizzling vegetable oil for a few moments, then allowed to drain before serving.
Served with a quartet of sauces: Mustard, Sweet 'N Sour, Honey, and
PIZZA HUT "BIG
dough gets a healthy dose of fresh yeast and is encouraged to develop at its own
natural rate. The chef stretches and spreads the rising dough, massaging it into
a thick galette. It is then coated with herbs and a
swirl of reduced tomato purée. Next the chef sprinkles the top with
freshly minced cheese, beef and pork, and complements it with slices of
pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. It is baked in a scorching hot
oven until crisp. Served with a traditional cola-flavored sparkling water
DEL TACO "TACO
We make our
own tortillas from fresh ground whole-grain American corn.
They are folded and then quickly crisped in searing-hot oil. The curved "shells"
are first filled with a layer of ground beef infused with chili pepper essence
and preserved jalapeños and a reduced tomato purée. They are then
showered with fresh lettuce and sliced tomatoes and finally topped with a thin
layer of shaved American cheese. Available with a side order of "El Scorcho",
our cayenne pepper salsa.
WENDY'S "HOT STUFFED BAKED POTATO WITH BROCCOLI AND
CHEESE SAUCE" ($2.99)
We select only
the largest Idaho potatoes which we slowly bake in our steel ovens. Just before
serving, the potatoes are sliced open and stuffed with a farcie of steamed diced broccoli and a melted
cheese béchamel sauce.
BURGER KING "OCEAN CATCH"($2.19):
An escalope of fresh-frozen Icelandic cod is coated with
bread crumbs and submerged briefly in scalding-hot vegetable oil. It is then
glazed with herbed mayonnaise and placed inside a light, airy, delicate
bun. Served with Sauce Tartare on the side.
Andy Aaron is a New York
television producer and writer. He is a member of the Clean Plate