That’s not to say Fajitas aren’t a fully legitimate food item in and of themselves. Properly done, they are an extra fun cross between a burrito and taco, with long slices of grilled meat stuffed into a pita alongside with the sweet and sour flavors of salsa, sour cream, grilled peppers, tomatos, and onions. But we are not talking about those sort of fajitas.
|...and Taco Bell. Which looks tastier?|
I was dismayed to see these happily
devoured by my old 4th Grade class for their
'nutritionally balanced' school lunches. Some
things haven't changed too much since I was a
kid, as Supersize Me (at 7:06) atests.
No, these are the fajitas I used to get in my elementary school cafeteria, and that I can still get today in just about any Taco Bell, stuffed full of ground beef and refried beans dripping with salty oil and smothered in cheese (because America is the place where everything is done BIG, our approach to incorporating melted cheese owes more to the mass artillery barrages of World War I than the swift surgical strikes of the modern era.) A little packet of ‘salsa’ is usually provided on the side, and maybe some onions or lettuce is thrown in the ground-up mix, hapless conscripts drawn from more gentile cuisine, but basically your mouth is in for an oil and salt bath. To dress up the flavor, a generic Mexican seasoning is thrown in, giving the ground beef a modicum of flavor, though unfortunately adding to the already bursting salt quota.
Now, I will guiltily admit that didn’t sound entirely bad to me, and when I was kid it seemed pretty decent (if not exactly great.) Plenty of people still enjoy their Taco Bell today, and whom am I in my Chipotle-catered ivory tower to look down upon them? Even the dedicated snob occasionally feels the allure of lower tastes, even when they have a superior alternative ready at hand.
|This is where I want to live when I grow up.|
So, for those school cafeteria and Taco Bell lovers out there, these chips nail the flavor of those greasy quasi-fajitas. The flavorist went well beyond tossing on some generic south western spices, going to the trouble of painstakingly recreating the aroma of the refried beans, the smothering cheese, and above all the pungency of those salty Old El Paso-style Mexican seasonings to the T. Instead of treating a lowly subject with the contempt it deserved, they approached it as if it were a true art and thereby elevated beyond its station, just as Tarantino would seek to find Truth and Beauty in a film about Nazi werewolf dominatrixes.
|"Werewolf Women of the SS evokes the|
deeper themes of self-alienation and the
creation of the 'other' by juxtaposing its
eroticized lupine protagonists with the
tyrannical socio-political order their
howling orgies of violence help unleash."
Did I even bother mentioning these were Doritos? Purely incidental information, as Flavoring is God. The crisps are visibly salted with more seasoning than the standard Dorito, including decent-sized chunks of black pepper. Predominating are salty south-western spices (composed of cumin, paprika, garlic, black pepper), which are for once suitably spicy; underneath is the flavor of refried beans, close behind is a mild hint of melted cheddar cheese, and far in the distance, a faint taste of those forlorn tomatoes tossed in for authenticity’s sake, just like the diced vegfgies contemptuously chucked into a Taco Bell Chalupa.
So, Fajita Doritos are surprisingly tasty and evocative, even if what they evoke is incredibly greasy and salty and lacks the elements of grilled meat, vegetables, and sophisticated sauces we look to from genuine Mexican cuisine. The moderate spicy piquancy and the uncanny flavor emulation with the spices combine to make these Doritos an enjoyable experience, although I should reiterate that the salt averse should probably stay away. Though the subject matter may not really be worth imitating, when it’s done this well, it can still excite the interest of nostalgic taste buds.
Stars: 2½ /4
- Clever flavor emulation brings to life the flavor of greasy cafeteria cooking and drive-through Taco Bell
- Diverse mixture of spices and elements
- Very salty
- Leaves one yearning for seasonings with higher aspirations