A few years ago, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a charming Frenchman on a long-distance flight.

He was funny and friendly and unconcerned that Americans (whom he adored) were running around at the time ordering FREEDOM FRIES with their burgers.

UTAHN: And while we're at it, give me some FREEDOM FRY SAUCE, too.

Clearly, he wasn't one to take offense … EXCEPT when it came to the dreary sandwiches (ham and cheese, shrink-wrapped in industrial strength plastic) the flight attendant served us.

The Frenchman sitting next to me picked his up by the ends, SNIFFED it, then flung it away from his person.

With both hands.

When it came to sandwiches, the man clearly had his standards and THIS sandwich definitely was NOT eh bien.

OK. Up until that moment I had believed that bad food was like bad weather: You just had to put up with it, which of course you STILL have to if you're my kids and I feel like making you a box of generic mac-and-cheese for dinner because. I. Am. Just. Too. Tired. To. Breathe.

But whatever.

The point is that watching the Frenchman was liberating because while I have yet to fling sandwiches on an airplane, I now feel free to rant when I am served bad food. Merci, Mr. Frenchman!

Take the gorgeous cupcake I bought the other day at the cafe of an unnamed chain bookstore. (Yes. I know. How trendy of me. I've totally jumped on the cupcake bandwagon, paying good money for something we used to get for free at birthday parties. America! What a country!)

Anyhoo.

It was red velvet with cream cheese frosting. My favorite. PLUS it had a chocolate mousse center. I ask you, "What could be better?"

And also I ask you, "How can you screw something like that up?"

Here's how.

CARE MORE ABOUT THE WAY SOMETHING LOOKS THAN THE WAY IT TASTES.

Later, when I was complaining about my tragically disappointing cupcake online, a couple of friends pointed out that certain chain establishments are notorious for serving up food that LOOKS yummy without actually BEING yummy.

Which begs the following question: why?

What's the point of creating food that is merely good-looking?

It's like hybridizing a rose with no fragrance. Or dressing up a young woman for a beauty pageant without mentioning she should learn to play the flute or sharpen her tumbling skills while she's at it.

And here's the kicker. This kind of unrewarding food is often as expensive (if not more expensive) than tastier counterparts, which can be purchased at locally owned and operated establishments.

Take cupcakes, for instance. I like those at Mini's here in town.

Sure, they're pretty, but more importantly they taste bien — which, the last time I checked, was why mankind invented cupcakes in the first place.

OK! Rant over! Mr. Frenchman would be tres proud of me!

(Meanwhile, feel free to share any and all pertinent information about YOUR favorite cupcake.)

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