Food for Thought: 7 Meals to Try (Or Not)

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by The ChiArts Double Space Staff

Does your menu need a shake-up? We sampled, swilled, sipped, and noshed to find out what’s worth eating β€” and what should never have been whipped up to begin with.

Our Rating System

πŸ•= Send it to the trash!

πŸ•πŸ• = If you’re starving…

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ• = Certainly edible

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ• = Delicious

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ• = OMG Amazing

McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

Shamrock Shake photograph by Lonye Scott.

The amazing Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s is definitely a 10 out of 10. It starts with the flavorful mint taste that bursts onto your taste buds at the first sip; the subtle vanilla base that complements the flavor. Topped off with the creamy whipped cream, everything comes together, reminding you of a homemade shake.

McDonald’s of course gives you a complimentary straw that allows you to suck up all the flavors. It’s the right consistency and isn’t too thick. This way you don’t need a spoon to cut through the thickness of the ice cream. The shake comes in three sizes: small, medium and large. While I highly suggest the large, the small won’t disappoint you; you’ll just be devastated when it’s gone too soon. I do have to warn you that large sends you straight to the toilet after enjoying this shake. I assure you that it’s worth it, though β€” plus, it only comes once a year!

St. Patrick’s Day is the reason for the seasonal treat. The mint and the green color gives the people two popular themes to be happy about while enjoying the day β€” or in this case, the whole month of March. I’d definitely go to McDonalds every day of the month of March if it’s possible to feed my taste buds.

While everyone is screaming, β€œKiss me, I’m Irish!” I won’t be screaming anything β€” my mouth will be too full of my favorite march shake! We shall Shamrock on!

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

β€” Lonye Scott

Chipotle

Chipotle Burrito Bowl with white rice, black beans, steam, cheese, and sour cream. Photo by Fotini Maris-Asimakopoulos.

Chipotle is a Mexican grill with locations practically everywhere. When you first walk in, conversations from the filled tables and metal hitting against metal fill your ears β€” though the metal isn’t as loud. You walk until you get to where you order and tell them what you want. Then you go down the line. Rice? White or brown? Beans? Brown or black? Choice of meat, or you could get vegetables. Then you go onto the other toppings β€” guac, salsa, queso blanco, sour cream or cheese. Then you make it to the register. Any drink? Chips and guacamole? They bag your food, you pay, then leave.

The bowl is one of my favorite things to get and is part of my usual order. White rice, black beans, steak, cheese and sour cream. Sometimes I’ll have some guacamole β€” but those times the guacamole overpowers the taste of everything else, and they usually put a lot so it just tastes like I’m eating just guacamole. Without it, the taste of it all is phenomenal.

It’s easy to say that when you’re craving something and you finally get that food and have a bite, it’s like magic. But I feel as though even when you’re not craving Chipotle, the taste is overall magical.

That is the same to say with the quesadilla. Usually I just get a cheese quesadilla but sometimes they ask what else you would want (and I usually just get a cheese one). Nonetheless, quesadillas taste amazing. But there’s just something about Chipotle’s quesadillas. They used to make them really big and it used to be very cheesy and buttery and when I tell you this was a whole different kind of mouthwatering magical, trust me: it was. Now they fold it and cut it into tiny pieces and you get to choose 3 sides to have with it and it’s crispy and still cheesy but not as buttery, which is a shame.

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

β€” Fotini Maris-Asimakopoulos

Home-made Toast and Eggs

Alex’s signature toast with jelly and eggs, with two strawberries on the side. Photo by Alex Friedrich.

Saturday morning I had the best piece of toast I’ve ever had.

If you are anything like me, you like to start off the morning with rich flavor and a touch of sweetness. I started off putting my bread in a toaster oven. Any type of bread will do, but for me I used whole wheat. I then searched through my fridge for an egg, when I stumbled upon orange marmalade. I hadn’t had orange marmalade since a year ago when I put it on top of a muffin that made my whole mouth feel dry. I remembered the burst of sweetness and how the flavor popped in my mouth. I put a very thin layer of it on my toast while being mindful of the sweetness. It looks similar to jelly so putting a lot on is tempting, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really love sweets. And I mean really loves sweets like the same way that one kid at Target begs his mom to buy them Sour Patch Kids or gummy worms despite their lips being blue from the lollipop they just had. Unless you love sweets as much as that kid (which may have been me), only put a thin layer. I then put a thick layer of raspberry jelly on top of the orange marmalade. I normally prefer strawberry jelly on my toast, but decided to go with something less sweet so the taste wouldn’t be overwhelming. I then scrambled an egg with salt and pepper and added it as my final layer.

This toast is nothing like the toast you make as you are leaving the house. This is the kind of toast that deserves to be eaten as you watch the water roll down a nearby creek in the morning sun. However, since I live in the city, eating it in front of the TV will do just fine. The toast was a perfect golden brown. The edges were crunchy and the middle was soft. The jelly melted in my mouth and was packed with fresh flavor. I was hit with a wave of citrus sweetness that burst in my mouth. The eggs were soft and added the perfect savory touch. Each bite was perfectly balanced and no flavor overwhelmed the other.

To make up for not using strawberry jelly, I added two strawberries on the side. The strawberries aren’t required, but highly recommended because of how good they taste. If strawberries aren’t your thing, then any fruit will do. To help balance the sweetness, I had a coffee to wash it down. The coffee added the perfect amount of bitterness and if you add too much marmalade, then bitter coffee will help. Overall, this meal was the best way I could have started my morning. It put me in just the right mood and if you enjoy breakfast as much as I do I would recommend trying this.

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β€” Alex Friedrich

A Thick Hot Cheeto

A Hot Cheeto with more thickness than a regular Cheeto would have. Photo by Ania Swift.

This specific bag of Hot Cheetos was purchased at a Target on the corner of Ashland Street and Division Street. Found in the bag was an extra large one, the largest in the bag. It was strange that some of the Cheetos were thicker than the others. A regular Cheeto is medium size or maybe even small, but this one looked like a cuffed hand.

Staring at it wasn’t enough. I had to compare sizes to others that I’d found. Think of a time you had a bag of hot Cheetos and try to remember how big and small they were. I prefer them the way they come, but it was bothering me how big it looked.

Others have reported that only recently they have seen such large Cheetos in bags. It was alarming, as if someone was making a favorite childhood snack thicker than what it is supposed to be.

I can’t be much help: the Cheeto was amazing. It was spicy and crunchy. It took multiple bites to eat instead of eating all at once. While eating, it hit my throat with the same consistency of any Cheeto. This tender and thick chip will forever be remembered as an exceptional Cheeto.

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

β€” Ania Swift

Vegetarian Ramen

A bowl of vegan ramen from a ramen shop in Humboldt Park. Photo by Valerie Hooser.

Vegan deliciousness awaits you when the waiter at the Humboldt Park ramen shop brings the slender, white shaped bowl. Bright, chopped tomatoes decorate the sides, and the noodles are the color of hand-spun gold. They are thin and delicate, easy to slurp up. The broth is a sea of spices, and the strong aroma of spicy chicken crawls up your nostrils.

On the right of the bowl, a circle of green chopped onions blanket the soup. On the left, slices of purple onion simmer on the noodles. A leafy lettuce piece blankets the ramen on the side, and it’s visually complemented by the black spoon in the middle. What a view for the eyes, and you’re about to dig into it.

Did I mention the spirals of spicy sauce that lay in the corners of the soup? You are the artist of the food, and can create the picture you want. Perhaps you want to toss the green and purple onion together. Or perhaps drip the sauce more in the middle. It’s all up to you.

In the end, you receive a delicious and fulfilling meal. And when you gather that final spoonful and and feel comfortable in the belly, enjoy licking the spoon: you’ll catch the spices with that are at the bottom of the bowl. Pepper, salt, ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper flakes, thyme leaves or dried thyme leaves. It’s just you and the bowl. What a time well spent.

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

β€” Valerie Hooser

CPS School Lunch: Chicken Sandwich

The ChiArts school lunch: a chicken sandwich, fries, and an orange. Photo by Allan Ayala.

The bell rings. Class has ended and is time for lunch. The hallways are filled to the brim. Kids quickly run to their classroom, drop off their backpacks, meet up with their friends, and then sprint down the stairs to the basement. Ropes create a line for kids to form as they and squeeze and cut and sneak their way through.

The hallway quickly becomes a cluster of confused children as everyone crowds the line and surges forward, trying to get to the end and into the lunchroom. In between side conversations with the unlucky members of your brave lunch line infantry, you try to steal a glimpse of the chosen few who made it to the line first and are now leaving with their lunch tray of plentiful bounty.

You crane your neck and squint at their platters. What are they serving today? French fries? Pizza? Tacos? God, you hope it isn’t tacos. Chicken sandwiches. This trusty ChiArts meal is a crowd pleaser.

“It’s my favorite of the CPS meals,” says senior Mia Dusenberry. The sandwich is served at least once a week.

Golden colored, frisbee-shaped chicken patty in between two dark brown buns, usually served with vegetables or fries, your choice of fruit, and milk, customizable with ketchup, ranch, buffalo sauce, or hot sauce. As you enter the lunchroom and see a chicken patty sandwich, you exhale a sigh. You will eat today, and you will be content with what you eat.

To eat school lunch is a gamble; for some students it’s the only reliable meal they eat all day. Some days the lunch likes to get experimental, and as your starving self takes an optimistic bite of this new dish, you recoil in disgust. Seeing a chicken sandwich as you enter the lunchroom lifts a huge weight off your shoulders.

To take a bite of a plain chicken sandwich is pretty unsatisfying in and of itself. It tastes like nothing. It is like plain food they serve at the army to make sure their soldiers don’t starve. The quality of the chicken sandwich is dictated by the chicken sandwich consumer. Do you drown your chicken patty in ketchup? Do you cover the plainness with the tangy barbecue taste? Or are you feeling daring, and slather your sandwich in spicy hot sauce?

Most recently, (yesterday, as of the writing of this article) on the side of the sandwich are golden brown crinkle cut fries, cooked to perfection. Although they are a bit soggy, they have a tasty twist to them and as you finish your helping you can’t help but ask your friends at your table if you can steal some of theirs. You ask your friend to peel your orange for you (because you’re too lazy and they have good nails) and while the orange is more sweet than sour, it suffices plenty.

Finally, you finish off your enriching meal with a nice long swig of chocolate milk, and reminisce of the days when they used to serve TruMoo and you didn’t have to gamble wondering what quality the milk would be. Finally, as the bell rings, you throw your tray away and rub your belly, content on the comfort that chicken sandwich day at ChiArts brings.

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

β€”Β Allan Ayala

Fatso’s Cheeseburger

Mia Dusenberry, the writer of this review, bites into a famous Fatso’s hamburger.

The best thing about growing up on Chicago and Oakley is not the 66 bus stop directly across the street. Nor the proximity to the nearest overpriced grocery store. It is the greasy convenience (privilege, miracle, utter joy, etc.) of Fatso’s Last Stand.

The doors are a pain in the butt to open, some TV drama you don’t know plays in the corner above the counter, the walls are sticky and the floors are gross. Their Apple Pay is glitchy, ’80s hits blasts through the speakers and not a single surface looks particularly clean. It’s perfect. The Fatso’s burger with cheese is what you order. Of course it is, it’s the best, which is a known fact and if you think otherwise you are wrong.

Although, it is still acceptable to order the Chicago char dog (the best Chicago style dog I’ve had was from Fatso’s) and all dogs come with one pound of fries, which is a huge plus. Fatso fries are thick and greasy and charred on the side; they are also the best fries and are often drowned in ketchup and devoured by the fistful. You order your burger with everything on it which means lettuce, tomato, onion (grilled or not grilled) and of course, Fatso trademarked sauce. Your burger does not come with fries so you remember to order some separately.

There is no possible way to eat this burger while keeping your face and hands clean without many, many napkins. The creamy Fatso sauce has an almost orange tint to it; it drips down your chin and onto your fingers with each bite, leaving a sticky puddle beneath you. I can never last more than ten minutes alone with my burger. It is inhaled almost immediately.

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β€”Mia Dusenberry

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