Friday, March 26, 2010

My Love Of McDonald's

Last week as I entered my classroom one of the my fellow teachers, flustered and distraught asked me if I saw the sign? Confused and concerned I responded that I hadn't. “Well Kingsley, our McDonald's is going to close on the 21st, UNTIL JULY!!!” she exclaimed. Panicked, I raced to the computer and after 3 minutes of intense Internet surfing I found an alternative location that we could go to and printed out a map.

Problem solved. . . wow that was a close one.

Near the school I work at there is a McDonald's less than half a mile away. They are closing temporarily to remodel the building. Many staff members get their morning drinks from there and occasionally hit it up for lunch. While some people I work with go there every morning, I hit it up once a week.

To celebrate making it through another week and not losing our patience with any of our students Lajaunda (a co-worker who I carpool with) and I hit up McDonald’s every Friday morning.

This is a conversation from the first time we did this earlier in the year (Me-K, Lajuanda-L).

[standing in line at McDonalds]
L-What are you getting?
K-hmm. . the McSkillet Burrito

L-Ew! Are you serious? That thing is disgusting?!?
K-uh yeah, it's great, it's got cheese and a great sauce and. . . .
L-STOP!! That's just gross, whatever
K-right . . . ok, so what are you getting?
K-Oh My God! A breakfast sandwich with sweetened bread!!! Might as well be eating a Bacon-McDonut

Honestly, going to McDonald’s is one of the highlights of my week. If that sounds pathetic to you, let me explain.

At it's worst McDonald's while creating an assembly approach to food production created mindless minimum wage jobs that through repetitive unskilled tasks diminished the spirit of its workers. Some argue that McDonald's also contributes to obesity issues in the United States and some even have gone so far that the sugar and salt laden foods purposely have addictive qualities.

Now I've seen Supersize Me, Food Inc. and read Fast Food Nation. While I understand the arguments that McDonald's has had negative effects on our society, I can’t deny what a glorious eating experience McDonald’s can be.

Some would call me a “foody.” I’m not a huge fan of that would because of its snobby connotation. I think spending over a hundred dollars on a dinner can be a great value and that eating great food can be a beautiful and emotional artistic experience. I love going to the grocery store, trying different foods, reading about food, watching cooking shows on television and cooking. Spending four or five hours preparing a meal is something that brings me joy.

Loving food the way I do, I also love street food. The same way I understand the artistry in a pop song like “Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus, I revel in a good hot dog, fried chicken, and simple but artfully created burger.

When you go to McDonald’s, like listening to a great pop song, you get exactly what you expect. It’s democratic in the way that someone can’t pay more and get a better Big Mac than I can, it’s the same across the country and economic levels. McDonald’s treats all their customers the same and in this way it’s a prevalent and lively shared cultural experience.

I know that McDonald’s food is not great for me, but neither is find dining either. What are you going to do though? Are you willing to sacrifice enjoying food so that you can live a couple years longer? If you are, Godspeed, but I’d rather shave a couple years off my live and love what I eat.

Last year, I started going to McDonald’s on Friday and it was fun, but it’s different with Lajuanda. We look forward to it through the week, celebrate it when it comes and share a couple minutes before the students come and enjoy our breakfast together. There’s always this moment when we are eating and we look at each other with this sense of contentment and smile. Now that I think about it, it's not really about the food, is it?

That’s what my love of food is really about. Loving what you eat is not gorging on a pint of ice cream or eating at the same restaurant every day. It’s about experience the food we eat. It’s using food as a gateway into other cultures and the people in our world. It’s sharing with others what the joy and the experiences that make life worth living.

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