Listen, in Texas they like their food big. And bold. And, on occasion, absolutely bizarre. Anyone who’s been to the Texas State Fair (or a Texas Walmart) can cosign this. But the four dishes we’re about to show you are the most Texas foods ever to have Texas’d up a Texas menu.
The plates come courtesy of the Texas Rangers — who are heading into the playoffs with their division clinched and the best record in the American League. To celebrate, the team dropped a little gem on Twitter, four new items to be served at home games as the Rangers chase embark on their World Series chase.
At first glance, each of the dishes look kind of interesting. They’re trying, at least. But upon further inspection, they all seem to possess some fatal flaw, which is then drowned in nacho cheese. So much nacho cheese. Let’s have a look:
“Okay I kinda see what you’re trying to do…” — The TamArlington Dog
This almost makes sense on a lot of levels. The tamale could be seen as a nod to the fact that Texas has deep Mexican roots. The chili is a manifestation of how those roots intertwined with other foodways to create TexMex. The hot dog is a baseball game staple. But together, all in one place? It careens off the rails, into a ravine, and explodes into a massive fireball while everyone who managed to escape the doomed tamale-chili-dog train looks on in horror.
Obviously, the insane excess of nacho cheese appeals to a certain demographic — my demographic (“people who are down to consume stupid amounts of nacho cheese”) — but it’s being used to paste together a a bunch of odd-sized pieces. Also, how is this thing being served? Do they just plop it in that plastic hat? Because that’s probably the best call.
“You’ve been chopped.” — The Atomic Burger
We get it, we get it, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Including this enormous burger. This giant slab of meat weighs more than two pounds and comes with bacon, caramelized onions, and ghost pepper nacho cheese sauce. None of these items are offensive on their own (although ghost peppers are now officially the truffle oil of 2016), but the execution strikes out (BOOM! Food writer making sports puns!).
Keep in mind, friends, that this is the publicity still. It was specifically produced to be enticing. Meaning: This is literally the best this dish will ever look.
With that said, a few thoughts:
- That meat looks terribly dry. I’d estimate it’s 80% of the way to being jerky. I’ve been to lots of food photo shoots, and I know what they entail, and I know that food routinely starts to look worse while the lights are being tweaked, but still … get it together Rangers.
- The bacon is obviously undercooked. Floppy, limp, flaccid — pick whatever impotence double entendre you want. This probably happened because they ran out of fuel after cooking that massive beef slab of ground beef until it was grey.
- There are no ghost peppers amongst the assorted peppers in that picture, which makes me think that the ghost pepper in the cheese sauce is powdered, which makes me think “why bother?” Especially since there are clearly plenty of jalapeños and sweet peppers lying around — both of which arguably taste better than ghost peppers.
Basically, this burger feels like an execution failure. You’ve been chopped.
“Go home, Rangers, you’re drunk.” — The N.E.Q. Sandwich
This “sandwich” is so muddled that you can’t tell what’s in it and what’s not. Is that an entire jalapeño sitting on a ridge behind the onion rings? Is that whole jalapeño mentioned on the menu or just a mid-sandwich surprise? Notice that there are also sliced and fried jalapeños, so expect “spicy” to be the main discernible flavor.
This is theoretically a modified cheese steak so…I think I see a corner of meat poking out on the far right. The rest is presumably buried under onion rings and uncut mozzarella sticks. This is all piled on a bed of waffle fries which clearly haven’t been cooked. The cheese also looks particularly un-melted — it sticks up at the edges like someone just subbed in round pieces of construction paper. Which brings me to my theory of the day: Is it possible that this whole sandwich is about to be breaded and deep fried? Because that would add some thematic consistency and make it easier to carry.
Whatever the case, I think we can safely say: No human will ever eat this, enjoy it, and then, on a later date, exclaim, “I could really go for one of those sandwiches with the whole goddamn jalapeño and raw potatoes inside.”
“Now you’re just f*cking with us.” — Popcornopolis Pita
This is how big business food inception works: Someone makes this monstrosity, an idiot like me writes about it, the stadium commissary — run by food concession behemoth Delaware North — gets free press, a few people buy the thing, a hundred pitas are wasted, and the whole experiment looks like a win from a bottom line standpoint. That’s not me being jaded, that’s how the modern era of serving food at this scale works. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover they were giving these out for free to anyone with more than 500 Instagram followers.
Speaking as an expert, I can tell you, without doubt, that no one ever thought this dish was going to taste good. Yes, salty and sweet make a good combo. Yes, bacon caramel corn, which this idea derived from, is delicious. But you can’t tell me that a real person said, “Here we go, fam: it’s gonna be brisket, with popcorn, with. … mac and cheese?”
To which a Delaware North exec obviously raised her hand to ask, “Will there be gobs of nacho cheese on top?”
Allowing the chef to reply cooly, “You’d better effing believe there’ll be nacho cheese.”
“But wait,” piped an intern, “how will someone transport this brilliant combination up to his gaping maw?”
I imagine that at that point the room fell silent. The chef tapped his finger against his chin and let out a slow, “hmmmmmm.”
All eyes turned to him.
“I wonder,” the chef said, playing the moment for effect, “if the ancient Mediterranean culinary tradition has anything to offer us here? I know… we’ll put it in a pita!“
And so a dish was born. They should probably just swap in “popcornopolis pita” for “peanuts and Cracker Jacks” in Take Me Out to the Ballgame now and be done with it.
But hey, Rangers fans, at least you’ve got some new items to try out (or stay far away from) if you’re watching your team try to win it all.