I saw the best minds of my generation merrily deconstructing the semiotics (and “cuisine”) of Taco Bell.
Mark Dery’s Salon article “Remembrance of Tacos Past,” an exploration of our national love affair with Crunchwraps and seven-layer burritos, will make your day. Particularly if you, like me, spent your pregnancy with a weird but unquenchable craving for Taco Bell bean burritos.
He had me at his first line.
I’m having a señor moment. Dinner tonight is the unthinkable: a Taco Bell Original Taco and Burrito Supreme, abominations that haven’t profaned this chowhound’s palate since I was a kid in Southern California.
Dery also looks at the cultural history of an institution that “made Mexican food safe for postwar white America” by serving prefabricated, dumbed-down versions of Mexican-esque foods in sanitized, overly well-lit dining rooms. And yet, for all its blandness (not to mention E. coli–infested scallions and cavorting rat videos), Taco Bell has made a place for itself at America’s fast-food table (not to mention in its collective unconscious).
Dery, unlike other Taco Bell fans and friends, is ambivalent in his desire to “make a run for the border.” His quest to pin down and examine his Taco Bell memories reveals the nostalgia of childhood food favorites to be as crisply ephemeral and easily shattered as a fast-food taco shell.