During a class at my Tues/Weds school this morning I was with a group of three girls, instructed to "talk with them". I asked the girls what they did over the weekend, and one responded:
"On Friday I go with my boyfriend to eat at a restaurant."
"What kind of restaurant was it?" I asked.
"Mexicano" (Meh-he-kah-no) she said.
"Oh a Mexican restaurant, yum!" I replied, imagining an enjoyable date night with margaritas and good food.
"Yes, the restaurant is called Taco Bell," she added.
Taco Bell?! Wait, wait, wait. Were the words "Mexican restaurant" and "Taco Bell" just used in the same sentence? I tried to hide the horror that immediately must have appeared on my face. I asked no more follow-up questions, and hoped it had been a misunderstanding.
Maybe there was some nice sit-down restaurant that just so happened to be called "Taco Bell" as well. Or maybe I heard her wrong; perhaps she said, "Taco...Ball? Taco Bill?"
When I lived in Madrid two years ago, there were plenty of McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Dominos throughout the city. Now I'm seeing more KFCs, and apparently Taco Bell is here too. There are also a couple Subways (one is in the airport), along with all of the Spanish fast-food joints (Telepizza, Nebraska Burger, etc.)
Although fast food isn't eaten here at the extent it is in the United States, it seems to be growing. An article from The Olive Press in June 2011 notes that despite the recession, Spain's fast food industry is doing quite well.
Regardless of its growth and success, fast food is one thing I try to avoid here in Madrid. Well, everything except for kebab (does that even count as fast food?). Kebab is simply unavoidable. The next time I eat some, I'll be sure to tell my students that I went to "a fine Turkish restaurant".