Eat. Pray. Sob Uncontrollably.

I have an interesting relationship with food of the fast variety. For those of you wondering how it is possible to have a “relationship” with food I refer you to Julia Child’s manly hands submissively kneading a lump of dough, and Mickey Rourke using Kim Basinger’s bare stomach like a grill at the Benni Hana’s. Though my relationship might not quite go to that extent, there is some type of emotional connection that I have with fast food. It is not necessarily my love for it, as more often than not I hate it as much as I hate myself for eating it.

The reason why I eat fast food is simply a matter of its inescapable similarity to my personality. I love fine dining and the taste of something with shaved truffles that took an hour to cook and two hours to wait for after ordering. However, when my mind is confronted by two options, the trump card lies in how much time and work will be spent on either choice. This was evidenced as I found myself in the downtown area the other day and was excited for the opportunity to experience some of the gastronomic bounty that could be found there. I drove from street to street, weighing out the options of different restaurants with which to indulge. 15 minutes later, I found myself shoving the last bite of a mayonnaise-greased chicken sandwich from Wendy’s into my mouth whilst driving the last few miles to my home.

My inherent laziness usually influences my dining choices. Even on the rare occasion where my wife and I can enjoy a meal at a restaurant, I shy away from the salad bar because it involves getting up out of my plastic-padded booth. I love the taste of crab, but I refuse to expend so much effort extracting it from its natural packaging. It also works with the things I prepare for myself at home. I will eat a package of saltines for dinner before I put something in the microwave that will take five minutes to cook. Why waste five minutes when saltines are ready right now? I don’t even bother heating up leftover dishes meant to be served warm. I have trained my stomach and intestines to process the shells of sunflower seeds so that I won’t have to try and spit them out. It takes work to be this lazy.

Though it is an overused tool for the typical blogger, I would like to proffer a top-ten list of reasons why I am allowing fast food to ruin my life. By so doing, I hope to gain your sympathy and understanding when it comes to my downward spiral into weight gain, slowly-clogging arteries, and champion caloric intake. Also, perhaps this might be used to explain to the good people at Visa why my debits are frequently made to Carl Bell Jr. and Wendy McDonald.

THE DOLLAR MENU
1- The Dollar Menu. I have to include this one as the title for this subcategory as well as a part of the subcategory. Sometime in the late nineties, something called the dollar menu was invented. This novel idea came just after menu prices and fast food restaurants soared to the point where 99 cents for roughly 20 french fries seemed like a bargain. And so, these places created a dollar menu in order to entice poor people, like me, who also happen to be fat, like me, into a more effective way at getting the empty calories we desperately needed. And, since it is only a buck, you can gorge yourself on, like, 7 items before you reach the price of a typical “sucker” combo meal. Have you heard that commercial where the guy dreams about ordering everything off of the dollar menu. I have lived that dream, baby. I have lived it.

2- Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. Usually, I shy away from something that has Junior in its title, implying much like a “diet” soda that something loveable from the original version is missing. However, the proceeding “Bacon”, “Cheese”, and “Burger” are enough to sway me. This .99 cent nugget of joy has become so popular that it has eliminated the need for the regular Bacon Cheeseburger. Also, it can be assembled in .7 seconds, which breaks the burger barrier.

3- The Spicy McChicken Sandwich. I once had an argument with the guy speaking to me through the golden arches of the drive-thru because I refused to order it under its Scottish moniker.
“No, I mean the Spicy Chicken Sandwich, please.”
“Ummm, we don’t have that sir. We have the McGrill chicken and we have the Spicy McChicken. Or, perhaps you mean the McFish McFillet. It has chicken too, I think.”
“Just give me the damn spicy one.”
“Alright, seven Spicy McChickens, that will be $7.67 at the first person standing outside your car with money in a fanny pack. Thank you.”
And, without fail, the sandwich results in a Spicy McColon.

THE GAS STATION

4- Slurpees. Since my spartan adventure into making my life healthier by giving up carbonation, I have recently found a brilliant surrogate in the slushy goodness of a Slurpee. They mercifully come in both Coke and Mountain Dew flavors. They effectively provide the appropriate amounts of sugar and caffeine that I need. Further proof of this came as Miranda let our two-year-old child nurse about half of the Mountain Dew Slurpee. An hour later, he was watching Charlie and Lola while alternating between manic laughter and hopping on the couch to uncontrollable weeping and pounding fists into the carpet. Nothing makes bedtime more fun than a caffeine-riddled toddler.

5- Taquitos. What once was a quaint Mexican dish has now been bastardized into something rolling along greased metal turbines and heated under a 120 watt lightbulb. It is filled with any number of ingredients, the central of which being pure Crisco. At 2 for 2 dollars, I defy you to not eat four of them. They have a wonderful taste that will leave you wanting to run south of the border, if by “south of the border” you mean some type of euphemism for either a toilet or a bodily function. You choose.

6- Miscellaneous Fare. Remember when gas stations served hot dogs and occasionally nachos as their only prepared-on-site food? I do. Now, if you step into a Maverick, you are assaulted by a variety of menu options. There are countless burritos, though as it does require at least two minutes of microwaving I generally avoid them. There are slices of pizza with various and sundry meats. There are hot dogs that are four feet long, covered in chili, and then wrapped in a greased tortilla. I have never felt so violated after eating something. It is definitely adventure’s first stop, followed by several stops at easily accessible restrooms and one stop by the side of the road in an area of brush.

FOREIGN DELIGHTS


7- The McKroket. When I visited the Netherlands, I fell in love with the culture, the people, but mostly their unique fast food offering. Step into Ronald’s house and you will find a sandwich containing a creamy blend of, according to the Dutch themselves, “offal and butchering waste”. But it is breaded and deep-fried. It tastes like sin itself, but I dream every night of selling one of my organs on the black market so as to be able to afford the plane ticket to Amsterdam to indulge in its goodness under the basking glow of flashing red lights. I should probably sell my kidney as it will be defunct in a few years anyway.

8- Poutine. On my two-year religious junket to Eastern Canada, I discovered a dish that it is simultaneously repulsive and addictive. It is the carcinogenic cigarette of fast food, and not just because it contains carcinogens and possibly cigarettes. Poutine consists of a heaping plate of french fries with a mound of cheese curds on top, all smothered with a unique gravy. The gravy has the consistency and taste of motor oil and the amount of calories typically deemed unhealthy to use as jet fuel. One taste, and you’ll know how the Quebecois have survived for so many years. Or, actually, you might question it.

9- Chicken Testicles. In China, fast food comes mostly in the form of intricate restaurants with unusual fare. While there, I participated in what is known as a “hot pot”. Diners are seated at a table with a cauldron of boiling water and one of heated oil. A conveyer belt brings plate after plate of mystery meat to your table so you can poke it with a fork and stick it in the pot. What animal is it from? Where on/in the animal was this meat originally? How long should I leave this in to avoid catching any food-borne illness? None of these questions can be correctly translated, and so it is really anyone’s guess. I was however, able to understand one factoid from the aged, smiling distant relation sitting across the table from me. As I plopped the meat into my mouth and jawed its chewy goodness, intertwined with occasional spurts of fluid, I was informed that I was eating chicken testicles. As I swallowed them in one big gulp, I voiced a phrase that was at once a question and a statement of disbelief; “Balls.”

I apologize that I could only make it to nine there. I just had to go throw up a little. As revolting as this selection of vittles might be, you must know that I love them all almost as much as I hate them. They have fed me in a hurry, allowing me more time to watch X-Files re-runs. They have taught me new skills, such as eating around the wrapper and still staying in your appropriate driving lane. They have exposed me to the world of goodness that processed food can provide. However, they have made me fat, lazy, and nearly legally blind. Perhaps it is time for fast food to join the ranks of carbonation, candy bars, and high stakes gambling on Taiwanese horse races as things that I give up for the betterment of my health. Perhaps, going back to my original metaphor of my relationship with food, it is time to break up. I am going to have to leave the chubby, needy fat chick who binges on Ben and Jerry’s to cope with stress and start dating the fit and toned lady in the sports bra who eats organic tofu bites and teaches Pilates on the weekends. She looks a little like Kim Basinger. And, my wife, of course.

6 comments:

Kara Thacker said...

You know its probably a good thing I had lunch prior to reading this, as this left with out an appetite for the next week.

Brian R said...

Poutine is delicious! But it's really only to be eaten once or thrice a year. Fast food is nasty, nasty, filth; suitable, perhaps, only for the drunken masses at 2 am on a Saturday night.

Dan said...

You mentioned Carls Jr but did not include any of their food on your list. The Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger is one of my favorite burgers. Sadly, I have given them up, along with most other fast food, except, of course, in emergencies where starvation is imminent.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

I am a sucker for a good burger. The Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger has found home within my large intestine many of times. Dang you value menu, my head says "No', but my body says "Yes".

盧廣仲vicent said...
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