Whether asking the Starbucks barista to take the granola out of the yogurt parfait or the Beach Hut Deli employee to remove the onions and the mustard from a tuna sandwich, I am always given a look of confusion, as if my fairly simple request goes against the worker’s instinct.
If you’re a picky eater like me, I’m sure you’ve thought, “Why is it so hard for them to just take out the pickles?” Or “Why do they need to talk to their manager and three other employees just to substitute cabbage for lettuce?”
Well, after almost 16 years, I’ve realized that the dilemma of the employee isn’t the employee’s fault; it’s actually the entire food industry’s.
And here’s why.
Through commercials and advertising, food companies have continuously put the message inside the public’s head that the more layers and condiments in a dish, the better.
This mentality encourages consumers to spend an extra buck for four meats in their taco instead of three when, in actuality, layering is the perfect example of Hemingway’s motto: less is more.
And by planting untruthful seeds in the eater’s head and systematically setting up their menus, restaurants expect that some extra revenue will come from the unnecessary layers that consumers add to their gyros or tacos.
So if you’re frustrated over a worker’s inability to remove something as simple as peppers from your pizza, blame Round Table, not Marsha.
But companies like Smashburger that are scamming the hungry citizen into spending extra money on unnecessary added layers aren’t the only offenders. Look at Taco Bell.
As long as you don’t view it as Mexican food, Taco Bell’s food isn’t really all that bad. But the problem starts every time they come out with something such as the “Beefy 5-Layer Burrito” or the “7-Layer Burrito.”
And since I’m sure you’re dying to know, the “7-Layer Burrito” has beans, cilantro rice, quasi-tomato, lettuce, avocado water (guacamole), a three-cheese blend and last but not least, reduced-fat sour cream.
Each added layer of tomatoes or “guacamole” lessens the overall flavor, throwing the consumer into a flavor-confused frenzy.
But companies have convinced people that the larger the number before the word “layer,” the better the food.
Think about it. Would you rather get a four-layer burrito or an eight-layer burrito?
When I was in sixth grade, middle school teacher Edward Bolman referred to Taco Bell as Taco Smell, and I didn’t fully appreciate it until I associated the insulting phrase with the restaurant’s unnecessary layering.
And the problem isn’t confined to fast-food Mexican cuisine.
Though some foods (like burgers) need a few layers, once the bacon, onion rings and barbecue sauce start piling up, it becomes impossible to find the original “burger” flavor.
Plus, for each layer added, it becomes harder and harder to keep the burger’s insides from gushing out.
And if you’re saying, “This kid doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The flavor becomes more complex for each added layer,” then I’ve got the perfect answer for you: caviar.
—By Jackson Margolis