Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Suburban Madness

I’m either pregnant or I have reached a point of total and utter gastronomic abandon. Tonight, while sitting in my hotel room, I felt the need to go out and get some dinner. As I mentally ran through a list of possibilities ranging from pasta or pizza to fajitas or fish, I was suddenly overcome by an insatiable craving for – are you ready for this – a gas-station burrito. Technically, that’s not true: I was craving TWO gas-station burritos. Adding to the lost-my-mind-hell-bent quest for my dinner is the fact I went to three separate gas stations to find my quarry.

Sure, we’ve all been on road trips where we’ve eaten our body weight in yellow peeps and cheese log. That’s largely because you’re in the middle of nowhere and that’s the only thing you can get at the gas station. (It makes you wonder what the people working at those out-of-the-way gas stations eat on a regular basis – and judging by some of the ones I’ve met in my travels, yellow peeps and cheese log pretty much sum it up.) However, I’m in a very suburban setting with full-service grocery stores and every restaurant imaginable – my culinary options are limitless. Regardless of the bounty that surrounds me, though, I’m single-mindedly after gas-station burritos.

After failing to find what is to the food pyramid as The National Enquirer is to newspapers, I left the first store, got into my car, and proceeded to the next gas station. (I would imagine the people working the counter at a mini-mart aren’t used to people strolling in just to browse.) The second location produced the same result as the first, and I must say that I was weakening. For a couple of seconds, I was strongly considering two Polish hot dogs with off-color sauerkraut. Is it possible I grew up in a house full of lead paint?

At this point, I’m getting a little loopy (too late, some of you might say). I honestly can’t remember driving from the second gas station to the third gas station, or Shangri-La as I have come to call it. It’s quite possible that I ran over a line of traffic cones and caused a group of nuns crossing the street to scatter because I ran the red light – it was all a blur. I didn’t quite come to full consciousness until I was inside the store and standing before the heated case in which the burritos were awaiting my retrieval. The attendant either cleared his throat or barked like a dog to arouse me from my fugue state. I can’t remember.

Suffice it to say, the burritos did not disappoint. I’m not sure if every gas-station burrito is prepared and cooked in one location by one company or if there’s a universal recipe that all purveyors of gas-station cuisine share with one another out of professional courtesy, but they taste the same whether you’re in Bangor, Maine or Bakersfield, California.

I’m hoping a good night’s sleep will bring me back to my senses and tomorrow will see me eating a more healthful fare like salads and lean meats. Failing that, I might make a midnight run back to Shangri-La. I just hope it’s not too late in the season to get yellow peeps.

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