Food in a Flash

Published in Gourmet Live 06.20.12
We're peering through the golden arches at the pros and cons of fast food, plus iconic drive-through dishes, speedy dessert recipes, and terrific takeout coast to coast
In-N-Out Burger's Double Double

In-N-Out Burger's Double Double

Fast food often gets a bad rap: All those supersize portions of sugary sodas (mayoral Enemy No. 1 in NYC), fatty meats, and fried potatoes have been implicated in a range of health problems, including heart disease and obesity; in recent years quick-service joints have also been vectors for the rapid spread of food-borne illnesses. In a culture that prizes speed, the stopwatch mentality extends to the grocery store, where consumers pay a premium for convenience foods, then scurry home to rustle up shortcut meals—if indeed they know how to cook. Historian and author Laura Shapiro, a longtime contributor to Gourmet magazine, argues eloquently for the opposition—"Cooking isn't a frill, it's a survival skill"—in a must-read interview by Gourmet Live's Kemp Minifie. Shapiro also rejects the notion that Americans don't have time to cook as a "big lie" pushed for decades by food manufacturers. Skeptical? Reading is believing.

To be sure, much of the uproar about fast food is justified, but in this issue of Gourmet Live, we're also looking at the sunnier side of speedy eats—because there's plenty that's finger-lickin' good, y'all. Whether you grew up on drive-through dinners—heck, Mom and Dad were too busy to cook, right?—or coveted fast food because it was taboo, there's probably a dish that represents the ultimate in grab-and-go grub to you. Kelly Senyei shares the stories behind 10 iconic fast-food items, including Subway's B.M.T., Taco Bell's Chalupa, and Cali cult classic In-N-Out's Double-Double. See if your favorite made the list.

Frequent Gourmet Live contributor Matt Gross has a special place in his heart for one particular fast-food joint: Domino's. At the wheel of his trusty Toyota "steed," Gross delivered pizzas for the chain as a teenager in '93. Find out why he says it's the best job he's ever had—and this from a professional travel writer.

If indie eating is more your thing than chain restaurants, dig into our latest Road Trip collaboration with BlogHer, spotlighting terrific takeout around the country, from standards (tacos, burgers) to surprises (coq au vin, short rib and oxtail lasagna, meatball salad).

And if you prefer fast fare that's DIY, don't miss Kendra Vizcaino's simple recipes for 10 fruit, chocolate, and ice cream desserts that can be made in 10 minutes each—perfect for breezy summer entertaining.

Need dinner to go with that dessert? Keep an eye out for our latest special magazine edition, Gourmet Easy Dinners; it's packed with 109 recipes that celebrate simple, standout home cooking—from chipotle chicken tacos to wild salmon with roasted tomatoes to pasta brimming with summer vegetables—and is available now at retailers nationwide, such as Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, and Hudson News.

For another treat, feast your eyes on a slideshow of summer imagery from the Gourmet archive, including classic vintage covers (circa 1940s to 1980s) plus stylish contemporary shots of fruit, frosty cocktails, and more.

Did you find your favorite fast food in the slideshow of iconic orders? What would you add to the list? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook, drop us a line (, or post a comment on our blog. For more tasty bites, sign up for our weekly newsletter to get convenient access to our most-read blog posts, editors' favorite recipes, and exclusive reader offers.

Hate to eat and run,

The editors of Gourmet Live

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