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A PAIN IN THE PANERA




SPOUTING OFF: A PAIN IN THE PANERA

by Dark Starr




Over the past few years I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the status of being the “in, hip, artsy elite” and what used to be called “yuppies” and a lack of taste, appreciation for good food and an overabundance of money. One of the most common ways to demonstrate this is to head over to your nearest chain/corporate “hip” food chain and watch these idiots buy up the slop they are offering for large chunks of cash.

I first noticed this a few years back when a friend took me to that big coffee chain – you know the one whose name is like a character from “Battlestar Galactica.” I have to explain that I’m a coffee fanatic. I’ve often considered the benefits of inventing an alarm clock with an IV drip that starts injecting coffee into your veins ten minutes before the alarm sounds. So, after hearing everyone rave about this place, I was anxious to try it. What a disappointment. The coffee was mediocre at best and the prices were premium.

Over the years I’ve wound up back at that place quite a few times – mainly because the drive
through was on the way or friends were going there. In the first place, if you’ve got to master a ten word name to order something, you probably don’t want it. I need the coffee to make my brain work properly and you expect me to be able to raffle of all these Italian words in the right sequence just to get the coffee. Yeah, right!

In the second place, McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts and just about any greasy spoon in whatever town you are in has better coffee and it costs a lot less. Let’s hope the Cylons get confused and take these things out. What a rip off!

So, how, you might ask, have I concluded that this is some kind of “yuppie” brain malfunction rather than just a one-show fluke? Well, I recently went to another of these “cool places.” It’s the one with the name that starts with a “P” and ends with “Bread.” Yeah, this is another of those places for people whose sense of what’s good and tasty is low and their cash supply is high.

First off, you get in line to order the food and see that the menu is fairly limited – certain combinations of sandwiches without a lot of options. I figured maybe you can customize but they don’t advertise it. At the price they charge for a freaking sandwich they oughta deliver it to your table (oh wait, they don’t even do that part – more on that in a bit) and sing what ever song you request while they do so. Uh – huh – don’t hold your breath.

So, we make our selections and order – or at least try. “Is the roast beef rare?”

“Yes.”

“Can it be cooked a little more?”

“No, the sandwich is made up in advance and we can’t do anything with it?”

“OK, on the turkey such and such panini can you get it without that sauce.”

“No, those come in already cooked and we just serve them.”

You mean to tell me at McDonalds or Burger King I can order a hamburger and have them add or subtract whatever from it, but at this gourmet sandwich joint I’m stuck with a sandwich that was put together a week ago, six states away? And I’m supposed to pay 3 or 4 times the price that I’d pay for something made today a couple hundred feet from me? What kind of logic is this? (I want you to put it between your knees...Film Freak Mality)

In any event, we bit the bullet and put in our order – and ordered some kind of fruit smoothie thing in
the process. Now comes the exercise regimen you get with your meal. You order your over priced slop at one counter. Then you pick up the drinks at one place and your food comes out at another. Should they come up at about the same time enjoy your run around the damned restaurant.

So, how’s the food? It’s OK – for crap that’s been prepared and frozen and then reheated. Isn’t there a name for that? Oh, yeah “TV Dinners.” What a load of bull! I have to tell you, the things that catch on in this country amaze me. Frankly, I’d be very surprised if someone in Europe would go, “give me a non-fresh average sandwich and I’d like to pay the GDP of some third world nation for it.” They’ve got more sense than that. With places like this thriving I really question the sanity of Americans.