I completely just stole this picture so if someone feels robbed let me know and I’ll take it down:
Anyway, this post isn’t about that picture. It’s about McDonalds.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Julia Child was a fan of McDonald’s french fries. She and Jacques Pepin said McDonalds fries (back when they fried them in beef fat) were comparable to some of the best in gay Paree. Even now, I must admit, the fries are pretty tasty.
Last week I broke a several year long McDonalds hiatus (with the exception of a lunch in an airport) since there’s a McDonalds across from my school and I was hungry and in a rush. I got the McChicken sandwich extra value meal. It came with fries and a Coke. It tasted good.
Let’s not be snobs here, people. “Super Size Me” (which I haven’t seen yet) apparently argues that McDonalds isn’t healthy. Well, duh. I know it’s not healthy. Neither is half the stuff I bake with 8 sticks of butter. Neither is the saucy venison the rich folks are eating at Daniel. Rich unhealthy food is a luxury. And McDonalds is the working man’s luxury food.
And as luxury food, I think it’s enjoyable. The fries are enjoyable. (They were better before the veggies revolted.) The sandwich was crisp and flavorful. The Coke went down smooth.
Folks I know who hate McDonalds hate it because it’s a big corporation, the same way Starbucks is a big corporation–and they avoid it for political reasons. I think that’s a very slippery slope. Your grocery store is a corporation. The computer you’re reading this on comes from a corporation. Your significant other is a corporation.
I haven’t researched this at all (I’m not that kind of blogger) but I would argue that McDonalds probably does more for the world on a humanitarian level than the fanciest and most-acclaimed restaurants. Check out this article linked on kottke today. It argues that big famous celebrity chef owned restaurants are big frauds:
So who does the cooking? Mostly guys like Ernesto. Hardworking faceless guys from places like Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico. You were expecting a bunch of Italians singing opera flinging pasta? Wrong. You hear mariachi music and guys cursing in Spanish.
But this doesn’t jibe with most people’s fantasy of how a restaurant kitchen works. They imagine someone like Emeril or Mario Battalia waxing ecstatically about herbs and oils, engaging in something close to foreplay as they lovingly prepare your entree.
So sorry. It’s a Mexican guy earning a paycheck, watching the clock praying for his shift to end as he sweats in front of a blast furnace cooking your food. In every restaurant in this great land of ours, whether it’s French, Thai, Chinese, or even Indian, it’s Se Habla Espanol.
I have a hunch this is probably true. Anthony Bourdain makes the same point in an interview about why he doesn’t go to the James Beard awards:
“The reason I don’t go to the [Beard] awards–and haven’t gone for some time–is this entire business is built on the backs of Mexican and Central American labor. The Beard House has done nothing, that I can see, for them. So I don’t mind seeing them fall on their face. In fact, I’m enjoying it.”
Because it’s a big corporation, McDonalds sponsors many a program and a charity to keep its good name. We’re all familiar with Ronald McDonald Homes—I volunteered at one once in college. I remember a bunch of well-cared for kids dressed in Hamburglar costumes and forced to memorize that old McDonald’s jingle—do you remember it? “Big Mac McDLT A quarter pounder with some cheese filet of fish a happy meal…”
Ok, just kidding about the kids–not the volunteering. But now I’m stuck on remembering that song. I remember our elementary school had a contest–whichever class memorized that song the best won a free class trip to McDonalds. How creepy that McDonalds had its hands in my elementary school’s pockets!
That’s really messed up!
You people should really stop eating there!
Now who remembers the song? “Big Mac McDLT a quarter pounder with some cheese filet o’fish a cheeseburger a happy meal…….”