Monday, August 9, 2010
TBG Eats: The NEW Cantina Tacos from Taco Bell
Current Weight: 171.4 lbs.
Over the past 10 days, I've been the healthiest inhabitant here at Stately Bootleg Manor.
My two-year reign of incessant illnesses and crank-calling death's cell phone was finally outdone by my six-year-old son, who wrestled with strep throat and flu-like symptoms for an entire week. Overlapping Jalen's ailment; Mrs. Bootleg was diagnosed with both a staph infection in her throat and conjunctivitis.
She woke up last Friday with her right eye almost swollen shut. As most of you know, this is rarely a good look for African-American women. Two days later, with the antibiotics contributing minimal relief, Mrs. Bootleg began wearing a medical eye patch. (For those of you who don't follow my Twitter feed; if you're wondering whether or not I went for the lazy Slick Rick similarities -- wonder no more.)
Thankfully, Jalen is practically all the way back. This past Saturday, he was back to his hypercompetitive self (and in tears) when I outscored him over two games of bowling. On Sunday, while we took turns hitting and pitching off each other, he admitted to throwing at me intentionally after failing to sneak his 33 mph crap past my Wonderbat.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Bootleg still hasn't found a healthy footing.
Her right eye still looks like a cross between Jim Ross and Stuart Scott. She picked up a new prescription on Monday -- a steroid-and-antibiotic combo platter -- that she insists has provided tangible (if not entirely noticeable) relief. Hopefully, she's on the road to recovery.
Because, when the family matriarch is ailing, the downside is obvious: no home-cooked meals.
Oh, don't look at me like that. We've covered this subject before. Before Jalen came along, Mrs. Bootleg and I split the kitchen responsibilities 50/50. Over the past 6 1/2 years, she's assumed almost all the cooking duties. On the other hand, I landed cushy gigs like this past Sunday morning's garage-cleaning task that included breaking up an illicit ring of crickets that had set up shop underneath boxes of our unopened wedding gifts.
So, with the wife out of kitchen-commission, I had the opportunity to sample Taco Bell's latest attempt at capturing a modicum of Mexican food credibility.
Taco Bell's new Cantina Tacos are modeled after traditional "street tacos" that are sold from kiosks, pushcarts and food trucks throughout Mexico and large swaths of the southwestern United States. Street tacos are deliciously simplistic: two small white corn tortillas filled with meat and topped with onion and cilantro. No cheese, no sour cream, no lettuce, no chopped tomatoes...none of the things usually associated with Taco Bell.
Everyone knows Taco Bell is the epitome of Americanized Mexican food. So, how do they do "authentic"?
The Steak Cantina Taco suffers from the same problem that plagues all of Taco Bell's "steak" products. The meat is overly chewy with an oddly sweet aftertaste. It feels pre-packaged and thoroughly processed as it sits on the tongue. Usually, Taco Bell is covering up this meat with vegetables, sauces and/or dairy products. Here, topped only with onion and cilantro, too much of the meat's "imitation" flavor finds its way through.
The Chicken Cantina Taco is a little bit better (ironically enough, because the chicken has a milder flavor than the steak). The squeeze of lime added an appropriate amount of tanginess, but the chicken strips were dry and by my last bite the blandness was overwhelming.
The Carnitas Cantina Taco is far and away the best of the three offerings. Taco Bell calls the contents "slow-roasted shredded pork". Now, I'm a wee bit skeptical regarding the presence of a slow-cooker sitting alongside the nacho cheese dispenser, but pork taste was strong and almost bacon-y at first bite. The meat was moist, seasoned fine by fast food standards and worked well with the cilantro/onion topping and lime wedge. I love carnitas and while TB's interpretation falls short of "authentic", this is good for what it is.
And, that pretty much sums up the Taco Bell experience.
Grade (Steak Cantina Taco): 1 (out of 5) Calories: 160 Fat: 2.5g
Grade (Chicken Cantina Taco): 1.5 Calories: 170 Fat: 2.5g
Grade (Carnitas Cantina Taco): 3 Calories: 200 Fat: 7g