Fast Times: Classic Arby's Beef n' Cheddar

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This week's Fast Times brought to you from Wasilla, Alaska! Well, the food is from Wasilla--I'm writing this from Houston. You see, while my Fast Times fill-in Minh T Truong was rocking an Arby's Angus Cool Deli Sandwich, I was engaging in an old tradition from my Fairbanks, Alaska days--an obligatory stop at the Arby's in Wasilla. Yes, that Wasilla.

Back when I lived in Fairbanks we had no Arby's, so any time we traveled south to Anchorage (or back north again to Fairbanks), hungry or not we would stop and grab Arby's ... just because we could. This was my first beef n' cheddar since my last trip through Wasilla on August 29, 2008--the day my former half-governor was announced as the GOP VP candidate.

As you can see, Arby's is an emotionally and politically charged fast food destination in my family.

Maybe it's the sentimental value, or maybe the sandwich really is that good, but I freaking love Arby's Beef n' Cheddar sandwiches. Long before their "Good Mood Food" campaign, Arby's really was good mood food for me: as a kid I had an uncle who managed an Arby's franchise and I used to love visiting him; later in life a trip to Arby's meant Alaskan road trip, a new look at my adopted state, and backcountry adventure with friends. Do these things make the food taste better than it is? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that the Beef n' Cheddar has remained relatively consistent over the years--a fast food feat unto itself.

Thinly sliced roast beef melts in your mouth, and the onion bun is always soft and delicious. An Arby's Beef n' Cheddar is the perfect bite, every bite: I love the way the sweet onions play off the roast beef, the sweet-and-slightly-spicy Arby's sauce, and the salty, warm melted cheese. I always add an additional packet of the Arby's sauce for a little extra zing. There is something about the way the tomato-based sauce mixes with the melted cheese (product) that makes a completely perfect condiment, especially for this mayonnaise-hater.

For quality control purposes I broke my own "Wasilla Arby's Only" rule and purchased another Beef n'Cheddar upon returning to Houston. Rest assured, Houston, that your Beef n' Cheddar options measure up nicely.

Nutritional info: 450 calories, 21 g fat, 1240 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 22 g protein.

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