March 12, 2010

Shrimp at Taco Bell?

Never have I been so surprised at Taco Bell as the day I saw the words "Pacific Shrimp" on the menu.

Specifically, "Pacific Shrimp Taco." It's a soft tortilla bearing six shrimp, lettuce, salsa and the Bell's infamous "Avocado Ranch Sauce."

At first thought the shrimp taco seems downright dangerous. Eat a bottom-dwelling crustacean from a fast-food joint previously called out for its poor-quality beef? Sounds risky.

I can't evaluate any health concerns related to the marine decapods, but I can tell you the Pacific Shrimp Taco is more appetizing than expected. It's by no means the best bang for your buck on The Bell's menu, yet it could provide a fairly tasty change of pace for all you Lent-observing Friday Taco Bell frequenters.

The salsa, tortilla, lettuce and sauce are all pretty standard. Let's skip right to the shrimp, the heart of the meal. They're about as rubbery as you'd expect. Less so than chewing gum but more so than fresh crustaceans.

Our tiny aquatic meat is saved, fortunately, by a shockingly tasty flavor. Taco Bell says they're "marinated in a mix of spices," whatever that means. My translation is that the shrimp pack a low heat that builds steadily as you eat your taco.

They aren't overly fishy, either. Everyone's worst cheap-fish nightmare is that it will cause seafood-burps all day. I'm proud to report my afternoon was free of tuna-tasting belches.

The shrimp are a little pricey, however. I paid nearly $3 for my Pacific Shrimp Taco, a bit steep considering its five-bite size. Perhaps Taco Bell should consider a price-saving "Atlantic Shrimp Taco" for its East Coast patrons.

When it came time to sink or swim, the shrimp taco manages to stay afloat with three sporks out of five. Tenderize the shrimp a little and cut down on the amount folks have to shell out for one, and this shrimp/spice combination would be a winning cocktail.

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