Monday, October 31, 2011

Mystery Meat

"I don't mind the taste!"

I am definitely not a food snob, and while I eat very little fast food in recent years (In-N-Out maybe once every couple of months), I certainly ate more than my fill of Carl's Jr. burgers back in the day.

But despite originally hailing from Los Angeles, McDonald's was always verboten growing up. It wasn't because it was fast food, or completely non-nutritious. It was because the food tasted like an unholy blend of cardboard and ass, flash-frozen and then thawed out under a heat lamp. The burgers are nasty, and the fries are pure grease and salt. It should not be mistaken for actual food, it is suicide by slower means. This is not exactly news, even to frequent customers.

So I have been to Mickey D's literally maybe a half-dozen times in my entire life. One of those times I tried a McRib, currently being overpimped on its 112th farewell tour.

I don't recall the exact circumstances which led me to try this bestial thing, probably peer pressure, possibly the occasionally profane amounts of drugs ingested in my twenties. Whatever the case, clearly there was impaired judgment involved.

As I recall, it tasted exactly what you would expect something concoted to offset the chicken shortage caused by McNugget sales to taste like -- a slab of pressed goo, slathered in sauce that must have had 10W40 as one of its main ingredients.

Now, it's not a secret that Americans, more than just about any other nationality, are accustomed to associating an utterly inane concept like "convenience" (as opposed to, say, nutrition, taste, quality, sustenance, or even actual hunger) with "food". And sentimentality may be one of the common touchstones of all cuisines, the ability to conjure up a rustic kitchen, whether grandmother's or anyone's, with well-placed manipulation of the olfactory senses.

But the marketing of this mystery slab ("Think smaller, and more legs.") is very perplexing. Maybe not as much as the grotesque glutton factories that continue to litter the landscape, but bizarre nonetheless.

I hold dear as a simple longstanding empirical axiom that Americans are enormously weird about, and have very dysfunctional relationships with, money, sex, and food. I think there are some people out there (and many of the comments in that first link seem to confirm the idea) that want to take the McRib out behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Which, come to think of it, might help explain that nasty sauce.

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