Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I was recently at the University of Minnesota, Morris, a beautiful little school two hours from nowhere (otherwise known as Fargo, North Dakota). The kind students who hosted me treated me to an all-you-can-eat dinner at Pizza Ranch, the Shakey's Pizza of the Midwest, apparently. The food shockingly wasn't bad--peas were properly buttered, and the pizzas were fine, although their dessert pizzas (really glorified apple tarts) deserve their own franchise.
But the most popular choice by far was a bizarre-to-me invention called the Taco Pizza: an Italian pie cooked with ground beef and taco sauce in place of pork and marinara sauce, topped with chopped lettuce in a wan attempt to emulate repollo, and finished with Doritos Nacho Cheese flavor. In the hour or so while we ate at the Ranch, the cooks trotted out two large pies due to demand. The only Mexicans besides us pochos were two gentleman behind us who never spoke a word of English--everyone else in the restaurant were good Minnesotans in their stretch pants and kind countenance.
I tried the taco pizza for a lark, but was surprised at how delicious it was. I still don't know what constitutes taco sauce, but its tartness meshed well with the heartiness of the beef. The only ingredient that didn't work were the Doritos--stale. I mentioned this to a UM-Morris administrator, and she beamed. "Oh, you need to go to [name of convenience store that I forgot]," she said. "Their taco pizzas are much better-no stale Doritos!"
Tellingly, Pizza Ranch lists its taco pizza as the "Texan". Tellingly, I didn't see a Mexican restaurant anywhere. And no hot sauce--just Italian red pepper flakes.