All illustrations and pictures by Andrew Abbott unless otherwise noted.
The RestaurantFirst Bite Cafe
76 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134 http://www.firstbiteallston.com/
Unfortunately, the Boston Gastronauts have never visited this restaurant. However, we did get delivery twice, and we have no complaints about their delivery service. We’ve only ever ordered the Sub Danger-Zone Subs, which are delicious, and which we talk about in greater detail below.
So this week our return to the gastornautical world brought us full circle back to our first encounter with the Fat Sandwich. No I’m not talking about lard spread thick between two pieces of bread, although we have encountered something similar when we were at Cafe Poloina a while back. Fat sandwiches aren’t any ordinary sandwiches. These sandwiches are generally filled with stuff that isn’t normally seen between two pieces of bread (or garlic bread for that matter). The two things showing up most frequently on these sandwiches are french fries and mozzarella sticks. So if you were that kid at the lunch table in school stuffing potato chips into your peanut butter and jelly sandwich this place is for you. They have a whole section of their menu titled the “sub danger zone” where you feel a whole buyer beware vibe while reading your choices. It’s almost like being on death row and choosing your last meal except that it all comes stuffed in a hoagie roll.
They even have “vegetarian” options though seeing that everything still comes fried on the sub I can’t imagine they’re that much better for you then anything else in the danger zone. This time around I got the Fat Willard sub. I don’t exactly know who it’s named after, but I was hoping it wasn’t a reference to the movie Willard. In that case the chicken on my sandwich wasn’t chicken it was more likely “chicken”… Anyways the sub was loaded with fried chicken, french fries, mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese all on garlic bread. These things are monsterous let me tell you. I made the mistake of ordering a large. The difference between a small and large is only a dollar and size wise its nearly indistinguishable so a word to the wise is not to press your luck and go with a small. I think I’ve run into this problem before.
I did indeed get a little bit sick after eating the entire thing, but I feel it was the overload of fried foods entering my system after not having eaten anything so heavily fried in a while. I have had one of these sandwiches on three separate occasions and this is the only time I really felt it after eating. Each time I had a different sandwich but every time they were absolutely delicious. I’ve also had run ins with the Fat Dog sub being comprised of about six hotdogs , pepperoni, mozzarella sticks, french fries, marinara sauce, and melted cheese and the Fat Bull which had steak, mozzarella sticks, french fries, and melted cheese. The actual problem with these bad Larrys is you can’t really leave any left overs cause they most likely wouldn’t re-heat very well.
The one thing about these subs that bothers me though is everything just tends to blend together by the end into one big cheesy/saucy/fried mass. Sometimes you might not even taste any meat on the sandwich if theres too much of one thing or another. I feel like putting these things together must be somewhere between an art form and an exact science. Then again if your willing to ingest something called a “fat sandwich” I don’t think your necessarily concerned with distinguishing the flavor of everything in the sandwich. These things are built for a purpose and that purpose is to fill an empty stomach, and then some. So if you’re starvin’ like Marvin, and you’re in the area I definitely recommend giving the First Bite Cafe a try, and if you’re gonna’ try for the Sub Danger Zone make sure you fast for a few days before hand!
Ché’s Take : Gotta Have It
“KFC Double Down ‘Sandwich’” by Mike Saechang. It uses the Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License
For a second, whenever Andrew and I talk about a fat sandwich, in my head I see lard in between two pieces of bread. That would be gross. Of course, some people react the same way to the fat sandwiches that we actually ate. Why don’t I? Or for that matter, why does the Double Down gross me out more than a sandwich with fries on it? Simply, First Bite’s fat sandwiches are honest, in the way that the Double Down is not. It’s American over-consumption as a celebration, instead of as an addiction.
And let’s be honest here, every person in the United States is either addicted to brutally unhealthy food, or to dieting. Sometimes a person will swing wildly from one to the other. The more important factor affecting the health of the United States is obesity. According to the Weight-control Information Network, an organization run by the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 3 people in the United States is obese. The causes for this are multi-faceted and complicated, but it is possible, in general to point to more processed food. This is how America’s upside down relationship with food has developed. The real wages of the United States have remained at a constant low lull for the past twenty-five years, compared with their meteoric rise in the mid-seventies. Early in his book The Paradox of Plenty, Harvey Levenstein makes research backed point that “the best way to improve the diets of the poor was simply to put more money in their pocket.” Because the subsidized food programs in the United States, from WIC to School Lunch, rely heavily on processed foods, and wages have not improved, the diets of the poor and middle income people of the United States have steadily worsened, which we see in the consistent rise of obesity. No amount of nutrition awareness will change that.
Yet there has been an increase in nutritional information. Nutrition facts labels are the one way that this new consciousness actually helps a consumer. In a perfect world, somebody would walk into a store, compare the labels of similar products, and then walk out, beaming with capitalist joy at their healthful purchase. In the corporate–controlled, semi–dystopian world we live in, this kind of thing would only happen in the commercial for a health food store. Instead, the ideas of nutritional eating are instead used by food companies to sell you their products, no matter how unhealthy they might be.
This is my beef (chicken?) with the Double Down. Other than the fact that it made me feel like I wanted to die, the (sort-of) sandwich attempts to make apologies for its obvious heart-attack causing properties. It comes in a “healthier” grilled chicken version, which while lower in fat, is higher in sodium. What really takes the F***ed-Up Award, though, is that a lot of the debate around this sandwich is whether or not its low carb, something KFC plays up in their “So much chicken, there wasn’t room for a bun” tag line. When somebody asks “Can the Double Down be considered a low carb food?” what they’re really asking is “Can there exist a universe where two pieces of fried chicken cemented together with cheese and bacon be healthy for you?” The reason they don’t ask the second question is because any thinking person nearby would slap them.
The reason that the Fat Sandwiches from First Bite don’t offend me is because you know exactly what you’re getting. There’s no low carb debate. There’s no lip service to healthier options. The part of the menu that the Fat Sandwiches appear on is called the Sub Danger Zone. The reason you eat these sandwiches is that you want to eat them, with no apologies for how healthy they are. It also ensures that you know that they’re an occasional food. KFC does not want to make the Double Down an occasional food, because that would cut into the enormous profits that the sandwich is making. Remember, this sandwich was only supposed to be around until May 23rd. After it sold over 10 million, KFC decided to extend its run. This is fast food reduced to its most destructive form. Not only does it make sure that the people that work there have poor health because of the wages they pay, but it also makes sure other people making poor wages have equally poor health. That’s what I mean when I talk about fast food as an addiction. It’s having a pusher, for their own benefit, tell you every reason to do something that’s unhealthy for you, and doing it, because you do not have any other choice. One situation is biological and one is economic. The net result is the same.