Monday, October 18, 2010

Gastronomical Exploration: I Search for Bacon and Cheese Congeals

Tonight, my good friend Jeremy and I ate KFC Double Downs. We will never do so again. But we do know that if we ever have grandchildren, and live long enough to interact with them (having sworn off KFC Double Downs, this is much more likely), we will be able to tell them that we grappled with the most legendary product the fast food industry produced in the early years of this century.

With the amount of hype – no, mythology – already surrounding the Double Down, it was impossible for one aggregate of meat to live up to it. A healthy aura of comedy does surround this edible matter, however. Indeed, aside from the fact that there is protein in chicken, the Double Down is not healthy in any way at all. It is a creation of pure grease, metaphorically speaking. So why am I typing this blog post and not in an ambulance getting my stomach pumped?

Actually, it really isn’t that bad. The entire product was quite hot when it was first delivered. I let it sit in its box for a moment while I ate a few fries. Of course, the grease sticking to the paper wrapper made me very glad to have as many moist towlettes as I did. The chicken itself had a mild spice reminiscent of peppercorn. The bacon, while crisp, was barely noticeable, overpowered by the surrounding chicken. The bacon was too thin, while the chicken was too thick. The something-like-mayonnaise left much to be desired, reacting with the swiftly melting cheese to create an orange-yellow gloop that congealed quickly, and much to my distaste, as the sandwich cooled in my hands. I think the Double Down could be greatly improved if this something-like-mayonnaise sauce was switched for a simple chipotle, or perhaps ranch dressing, if you want it to be even more blatantly unhealthy.

I left one small fragment of the Double Down uneaten. It was a large, rectangular crumb consisting of equal parts, chicken, chicken batter, and congealed cheese. Probably the only unappetizing part of the Double Down was the cheese after it had congealed with the something-like-mayonnaise. If they used a better quality cheese, a different sauce, or had an option for not having cheese at all, the Double Down could be a much better dining experience.

I don’t want my readers to think that the KFC Double Down is an entirely negative experience. It definitely has its flaws, but the chicken itself tastes good, and the cheese is quite pleasurable while it’s in that perfect middle period of melting, when it has melted just enough to liquify onto the surface of the chicken, but before it cools into a congealed gel.

The only genuinely negative aspect of the KFC Double Down arrives long after one eats it. I am not a man with a weak stomach, but as I type, I am taking breaks to pop a couple of antacids, make some tea, and otherwise keep my stomach in proper working order. I am extremely glad that my class schedule this year allows me to take Tuesdays off, because I will likely need to spend the day making sure the Double Down works its way out of my digestive tract without increased discomfort. And I do predict some measure of increased discomfort. If you already have stomach problems, this is assuredly not for you.

I will readily admit that the best part of the KFC Double Down is its inherent ridiculousness. As Jeremy and I were waiting for our food at the neighbourhood KFC, the kitchen employee was preparing three of them in a row on the stove. As she laid them in their cardboard boxes, she clearly spat out the words, “This is fucking ridiculous.” I was eating a bacon, cheese, and something-like-mayonnaise sandwich, with fried chicken instead of bread. And I paid money for this. I paid an extra dollar to an anti-poverty charity. None of this makes any sense.

One of Patton Oswalt’s most legendary comedy routines revolves around the KFC Famous Bowl: chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, fries, and a breadstick piled artlessly into a bowl that you can shovel indiscriminately into your mouth. The creative minds at KFC don’t just inspire utterly unhealthy food that will shorten the collective lifespan of the American people by at least a decade. They also unintentionally inspire some of the greatest comedy of the new century. I’m looking forward to a polished and perfected routine of Patton’s take on this infamous and hilarious sandwich.*

*I should clarify that the KFC Double Down is very much more like a cordon bleu than a sandwich proper.

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