I have to admit that I love Mexican food. 10 years living in San Diego opened doors to food that most people can only dream of. There is no doubt in my mind that the very best Mexican food I ate, came from the simplest of setups. I worked for a small company, the workforce was around 300. I guess I was part of upper management, but I never viewed it that way. I was the only non-family member in this lofty position.

A good percentage of the workers were Mexican. They worked hard, and they produced high quality results. One of my favorite experiences was a company picnic in a park. The ‘company’ per se had nothing to do with it, they certainly made no grand offer to help fund the event or even acknowledge that it was planned. Invites were extended to management, and I attended. It was a case of being mandated to do so, it was out of respect for the people that worked so hard and yet received so little respect.

I found myself in a sea of BBQ’s, all of which were sizzling up the best smelling food on the planet. I was introduced to wives, children, extended family members, and just about everyone you can imagine. I was not management, I was more an old friend. I love the food from Mexico, in someways they have learned to make so much from so little. A few basic ingredients can be turned into a feast fit for royalty. One family was cooking Carne Asada, a dish that I love. Through her English speaking husband she explained the recipe. It was simplicity itself (and one that I still use today).

This was a fiesta so very much the star of the show was the meat rather than the fillers. There was however rice. It was delicious. It was not boring plain boiled, or sodium loaded Fried Rice, it was unique. When I asked what was in it  I was surprised. Just a few fresh ingredients. If you can cook it on a small BBQ in a park, you can certainly make it at home.

So, lets get to the point of the story. Am I just plum crazy?

I was researching for another story and stumbled upon the official Taco Bell ingredient list for their products. While many of then leave me speechless, it is the Rice one that takes the prize. How come an unknown woman can produce a delicious dish with Rice, Tomatos, Cillantro, and just a couple of other ingredients, whereas Taco Bell needs this:

Water, Seasoning: Salt, Maltodextrin, Tomato Powder, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavor (With Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Sunflower Lecithin), Spices, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Tomatoes, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika [Color], Citric Acid, Dehydrated Green Bell Peppers, Dehydrated Red Bell Peppers, Extractive of Paprika [Color], Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Garlic Extractives (Contains Modified Corn Starch, Corn Starch), Onion Extractives (Contains Modified Corn Starch, Dextrin, Corn Starch), Less Than 2% Silicon Dioxide Added To Prevent Caking. Rice (Raw): Enriched Precooked Parboiled Long Grain Rice [Rice, Niacin, Ferric Orthophosphate (Iron), Thiamine Mononitrate (Thiamine), Folic Acid]. Oil: High-Oleic Low-Linolenic Canola Oil, TBHQ (To Protect Flavor), Dimethylpolysiloxane (An Antifoaming Agent).

Even worse, the FDA (toothless as they are) mandate that manufactures list ingredients by amount used.  Of course it is easy to understand water being in the pole position, but look where the rice is……

I wonder what would happen if you tried to ask for rice but please – hold the:

Salt, Maltodextrin, Tomato Powder, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavor (With Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Sunflower Lecithin), Spices, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Tomatoes, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika [Color], Citric Acid, Dehydrated Green Bell Peppers, Dehydrated Red Bell Peppers, Extractive of Paprika [Color], Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Garlic Extractives (Contains Modified Corn Starch, Corn Starch), Onion Extractives (Contains Modified Corn Starch, Dextrin, Corn Starch), Less Than 2% Silicon Dioxide Added To Prevent Caking?

Just some food for thought…..

Simon Barrett

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