Eating the World

McDonald's Habanero Quarter Pounder: Why Bother?

Food rules in my world are surprisingly few in my out-of-the-kitchen hours:

1. Eat Mexican seafood or Asian food at every opportunity. 2. Anything on a bun is friendly territory. 3. If fast food is involved, make it McDonald's.

Everyone in the culinary industry has their fast-food weakness, no matter how strongly they may deny it, and mine is the ability to get a hot cup of coffee and a fatty but delicious sausage egg McMuffin served with a smile and with barely having to stop my car as I roll past the drive through at 5:30 am on my way to open up the kitchen.

Let's see where these rules recently took me.

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And with the new heavily promoted Thick Cut Bacon Quarter Pounder flavors on my mind, and the promise of "spicy-cool habanero sauce" inching me toward what I knew to be a bad decision, I tasted nothing but disappointment -- delivered on a toasted bun.

At first glance, the burger is better than most McDonald's offerings, with bright green leafy lettuce swirling out of a soft bun, but the goodness stops on the first bite, as the overly tangy, flat, and not too spicy orange-tinged habanero ranch overpowers that new cardboard-like thick-cut bacon and the quarter-pound burger patty itself. The spice level hit once, feeling it for a brief moment in my left eyeball, but it quickly faded. The spicy chicken sandwich this burger shares the menu with has a bigger kick than this habanero sauce. Which begs the question, why bother? Is the habanero poised to take down the chipotle as the reigning chile to put into everything? Let's hope that if the habanero's foray into the mainstream continues, it gets a kick that travels from the mouth to the very tips of the toes.

As proprietor of Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food, Minerva Orduno Rincon makes everything from mole poblano to goat milk caramel to spiced (not spicy) cocoa. She's taking a summer break from farmers markets, but she'll be back in the fall.

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Minerva Orduño Rincón