Ask the Critic: What's Your Guilty Food Pleasure?

It cracks me up to think about it, but some people honestly do think I spend my days eating nothing but the most luxurious foods imaginable -- foie gras, sashimi, prime steak . . .

Um, no. I often eat on the company dime for professional purposes, but I'm certainly not heading out for fine dining every night. As much as I love to get glammed out from time to time, I also like to review down-to-earth restaurants where I can show up in my grubby Chuck Taylors and not look out of place.

Anyway, guilty pleasures. That's a tough one.

Mostly, it's hard because I don't feel guilty about too many things I eat. If I devour something that's disgustingly and deliciously fattening, there's always a way to make up for it. I ate whale meat in Japan once, just to try it.

The guilt usually kicks in when I know I'm eating something with no redeeming nutritional or social value -- like fast food. I might be going to hell in a handbasket, but when I wake up sleep-deprived, stressed out, on deadline, and in dire need of comfort, I stop by the McDonald's at 7th Street and McDowell and get an Egg McMuffin. Of course, I get the value meal because I have to have one of those greasy hash brown patties, too. Sometimes I even eat the hash brown while driving (stick shift!) to the office. It's an acquired skill, I tell you.

My advice to you? Don't ever look at the nutritional info on one of these. It will ruin you. I used to eat an Egg McMuffin once a week until I read the horrific details. It was my own personal Super Size Me.

I vowed to never eat at Jack in the Box again, after they towed my car from their Mill Avenue parking lot about five years ago. Damn you, Jack! But I still give in to a Wendy's Frosty on a hot day, I have a weakness for Chipotle's carnitas, and whenever I drive to L.A., there's always the invevitable pit stop for a Big Mac or Happy Meal.

Yes, they do make me happy.

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