“Do you eat fast food?” the physician’s assistant asked me yesterday during my annual checkup. For a moment I wondered whether cumin lamb skewers consumed on Queens street corners qualified and decided they did not fit the fast-food bill.
“About two or three times a year,” I responded. Most of those times are on road trips and the idea of the food—be it a Big Mac, Whopper, or Taco Bell Burrito Supreme—always far exceeds the end product. It’s as if I’m trying to capture some mystical childhood fast food experience. I’m convinced that if Hardee’s, which I recall as having magnificent char-grilled flavor, still existed in New York City I would be a happy man. Call it chasing the fast food dragon.
One exception to the fast food sandwich disappointment rule is the sausage egg and cheese McGriddle. It is exactly what I expect every time. That is to say an American breakfast—sausage, egg, and cheese, and pancakes with maple syrup—all in a handheld, corporate branded sandwich. I have just learned that a McGriddle contains 550 calories, which when compared with the 1090-calorie Mickey Dee’s Big Breakfast—biscuit, eggs, hash browns, and three pancakes—ain’t so bad.
I couldn’t give a damn about the calorie count though. The McGriddle, an exercise in literally consuming a brand, with the Golden Arches staring you in the face is delicious, far more so than the chain’s pallid excuse for a hamburger. This is no doubt due to tons of research and nefarious flavor chemistry that I would probably rather not know about.
It’s a fast-food paradox that the most outlandish McDonald’s sandwich is better than the standard bearer—the hamburger—that gave the chain its start all those years ago. All of which brings me to the subject of potato chips, specifically the Lays Do Us A Flavor contest, which is now down to four finalist flavors Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Wavy Mango Salsa, Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger, and Cappuccino. Allow me to reiterate that last one Cappuccino created by one Chad Scott of Las Vegas. It is a vile, vile flavor and should Mr. Scott win the million dollar purse I might just give up the food game altogether. Should that require explanation I encourage you to buy a bag, or perhaps just consider this would you drink a sour cream and onion flavored coffee?
For the record one of the flavors I submitted was Banging Banh Mi. Alas, America is apparently not ready for a Vietnamese sandwich flavored potato chip. (Incidentally Lays Thailand is way ahead of us in the flavor game.) I say leave the chip and fast-food flavor creating to the professionals. They’re far better at it. After all they created the McGriddle. And, if the doctor tells me cholesterol isn’t too high I might just celebrate by having one for breakfast next week.