Sunday, 9 June 2013

Pierre Drive Thru Spicy Chicken Sandwich

The idea that I can savor a drive-thru style sandwich without having to drive through anything makes me very happy because I always get stage fright talking to those disembodied order-taking microphones. Usually the person on the other end is an overly-confident and exuberant high school student with an NFL-grade headset, working double shifts to save up enough money to buy the newest Samsung Galaxy so they can connect with all their friends on all their various social media platforms and talk about the idiot who can't order through the drive-thru and then pulls up too far away at the take-out window and has to get out of the car to get his food, completely missing the point of the drive-thru concept in the first place and is sweating profusely by now from all the anxiety that the whole procedure has left him with, not to mention yelling at the microphone loud enough to be heard three blocks away, making him very unsavory to the high school student handing him his burger bag when all the poor guy wanted to do was savor some fast food in the first place with a minimum of human contact except for having to ask for more ketchup. Sound familiar to you or is it just me? Well, anyway, that's just the tip of my neurotic iceberg. This is how I imagine the drive-thru conversation going before I even leave the house.

Me: I'll have a Big Mac, please.
Crackling microphone: I'm sorry, sir. Did you say wombat?
Me: No, Big Mac.
Crackling microphone: Fries with that?
Me: With my wombat?
Crackling microphone: I'm sorry sir. We don't serve wombats.
Me: I said Big Mac!
Crackling microphone: Like, what is a wombat anyway. Is that like a flying rat?
Me: No, it's not a flying rat. It's a marsupial from Australia.
Crackling microphone: We don't have soup from Australia either. Do you need more time with the menu?
Me: I said Big Mac! Big Mac! Big Mac!
Crackling microphone: Crack! Did you say crack? This is McDonald's, not a crack house. I'm afraid I'm going to have to call my supervisor. I think she's going to call the police.
Me: I said Big Mac! Not crack.
Crackling microphone: Yes, I heard you the first time. Do you want the meal deal?
Me: Sure. Why not.
Crackling microphone: Okay. That's one wombat, two Australian soups, three grams of crack and one Big Mac Meal Deal. That'll be six-hundred and seventy-five dollars and twenty-four cents. Please drive thru to the second window.

So, with those thoughts in mind, when I spotted this drive-thru food facsimile at my local Safeway, I was justifiably relieved. The answer to all my existential drive-thru crises lay before me in the freezer section and it even came in packaging that resembled your typical take-out burger or chicken sandwich encasing. The spicy chicken sandwich called to me, like a siren of the poultry seas and my hands were shaking as I got this thing home and flung it in the microwave. Taking care, firstly, to open the cellophane wrapping at one end as per the instructions so as not to explode an already dead chicken and not add insult to previous grievous injury. My biggest worry was how the bun would hold up to radiation cooking. Bread and microwaves are not usually a good combination. Instead of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis you get Don Rickles and Donny Osmond. But the description on the box boasted about a "hearth baked corn dusted bun,"and with microwavable instructions obviously there was something injected into this bun built to withstand radioactivity. Could it be the fungal enzymes listed in the bun's ingredients? I looked them up and was launched into vast and extensive scientific studies on the use of fungal enzymes in industrial applications, had a crash course on the use of enzymes in food since Babylonian times and future uses of fungal enzymes in everything from animal feed to biochemistry to the pulp and paper industry. Never did I realize that enzyme production from fungi could be so fascinating or so tasty. I'm not sure that's what made the bun particularly toothsome and I'm not sure "hearth baked" is the right adjective for something that just emerged from the microwave but the bun was not soggy, just a little damp, which was actually not all that unpleasant and the corn-dusting was quite evident, visually and in spirit. There was a sweetness to the bread that contrasted well with the spiciness of the breading on the chicken cutlet within (or as they spell it on the box, "cutlette," no doubt the fancy French spelling to keep consistent with their nifty line-drawing logo outline of a little chef's head with chef's toque and suggested mustache not to mention the Pierre brand name). There's no doubt that the spice level is kept well within the parameters of the average fast food-trained palate and the chicken breast meat is almost as tender as a mother gazing lovingly into her new-born baby's eyes though certainly not as moist. Nevertheless, I devoured the whole thing and was not the worse for wear afterwards. The box does show it with tomato and lettuce but science hasn't achieved that level of microwavable genetically modified vegetable matter yet so it does arrive as naked as the day it was born from the factory. You may wish to forgo the condiments and do this thing bareback, so to speak, but I added ketchup and mustard and mayo and it made the experience that much better. There were some uneven heating issues in the cutlet but I think a couple of more seconds in the microwave would've solved that problem without turning the bun to mush.  On the website they describe the company as "a fully integrated manufacturer of value-added proteins, Philly Steaks and handheld sandwiches." When food and science mix with language like this, I for one, am won over. I've seen the future of value-added proteins and it looks bright to me, especially from the light emanating from the window of the microwave. And hey, I'll take a handheld sandwich over a handheld device any day.
Birds of a feather flock together, especially when there's a Pierre Spicy Chicken Sandwich in the vicinity. I had to beat the crows away to enjoy this delicacy.

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