In Which I Try A Grilled Market Salad

The other day, I had what might be considered an “important breakthrough,” if what I’m doing (eating everything on Chick-fil-A’s menu) could in any universe ever be considered even infinitesimally important. Since it can’t, I’m not exactly sure what to call what I had the other day. I guess I’ll just call it what it was: a salad. So, let me start over: The other day, I had a salad.

The circumstances leading to the procurement of said salad were your garden variety rainy-day-existential-spiral-of-shit-and-darkness, kicked off with a sad thunderclap by a lost soul using cover of night to emphatically window-smash his way into my vehicle to win the ultimate prize: my beat-up iPod Classic from 2008. He gets about thirty U.S. dollars; I am robbed of the gift of music. Fair trade. My clever vandal, forever interested in making some sort of vague cosmic point, did leave my electric guitar curiously untouched, as if to impart in his hard-won wisdom that now that I could no longer listen to music, I would have to make my own. Deep motherfucker.

At any rate, the morning trundled coldly along, steely clouds beginning to bunch tightly together overhead like boiling spinach leaves, and I realized that the newly-airy nature of my car wasn’t going to mesh well with the fatty sideways raindrops forecasted by Weather.com. So - like you do - I called the Window Repair Guy. WRG promised me, Comcast-style, that he’d make a surprise appearance at my office sometime within the 12 to 2:30 block, so, sometime around 1:15, I blasted off to Chick-fil-A in my wind tunnel of a vehicle in a panic, hoping to snatch a food-sack and return before he showed up.

I walked into Chick-fil-A like I had just disembarked from a hurricane. Rain-spattered clothes; hair lightning-bolting in a million different directions; silver, Methuselah-like beard tangled around my knees. I needed to get back to the office in short order and had no time to idly peruse menus. I stepped up to the cashier - we’ll call him “Bert” because I don’t know his name but I’m almost positive it isn’t Bert - looked him dead in the eye, and ordered a Grilled Market Salad. Bert asked what dressing I wanted, and I was like, “Raspberry Vinaigrette, Bert.” Bert started at Chick-fil-A not too long ago, and I’d watched as the sincere smile he joyfully beamed at each asshole he encountered began to slowly falter, chipping away until it eventually vanished altogether like a fart at a birthday party. Now, though, I saw a light in Bert’s eyes, a light that I’d long since assumed six months behind the cash register had impassively extinguished forever, spark back to life. Bert set his jaw and nodded in affirmation, and columns shook and crumbled as his next words pierced through the restaurant like a clarion: “My pleasure.”

Bert’s self-confidence restored and my salad collected, I rocket-shipped back to the office to feast on some foliage. And you know what? It was pretty damn good. Of all the things I expected to become true contenders in my quest for lunch variety, I didn’t see any of Chick-fil-A’s salads making a legitimate play. In my extensive life experience thus far, salad can be many things - “acceptable,” “green,” “full of raisins” - but in my heart of hearts I know that it’s really more of a necessary evil, like a fax machine. But Chick-fil-A has put together something pretty magnificent here. Let’s get this out of the way first: there is not much salad in this salad, assuming you happen to equate “salad” with “lettuce.” But what there is in this salad is a bag of party favors. What there is in this salad is a circus.

CFA (or Truett Cathy, that crafty old robot) has replaced every other leaf in this salad with pretty much anything else; in no particular order, these things can be found in a Grilled Market Salad: grilled chicken, lettuce, carrots, blueberries, bleu cheese, strawberries, red apples, walnuts, almonds, granola, cabbage, green apples, taco meat, a bologna sandwich, twenty dollars in change, Bert’s squandered youth (spoiler), and a Discman with no headphones. Every bite is a totally different, somewhat bewildering experience, as though some mad food scientist had a lettuce-centric stroke into a bowl. If food is measured by how bored I get while eating it, with boredom earning the low marks, then this gets a perfect high score. Food isn’t measured that way, so this doesn’t get a perfect high score, but you get my point.

The “Reduced Fat” Raspberry Vinaigrette - is vinaigrette supposed to have fat in it? I don’t know, but this one comes complete with strawberry juice, raspberry juice, honey, and corn syrup, so it’s got enough sugar to satisfy Edgar - was a fair addition, although I’m not sure this “salad” was exactly begging for additional incongruous fruit flavors.

The more I describe the Grilled Market Salad, the more I’m a little disgusted by it, but keep in mind that the experience as a whole was so enthralling that I forgot to pay any attention to my selected reading material. Could be because loading up a fork with ten different items of wildly varying shapes and sizes is no easy task, could be because my reading material was poorly chosen. You tell me.

So that’s it for now.  Given this successful-and-borderline-psychedelic experience, I have high hopes for my next salad-venture. I’ve got my eyes trained on that heavily tangerine-d Asian one. But I guess I should probably get a salad too. Zing!

Salad: 7/10

Time: 1:15 PM

Weather: Water hurricane, warm

Drive-Through: Avoided

HBISTSCTAS Test: Comparable in length and volume to a Nalgene bottle. Fewer gradations.