S.G. Browne

Super Sized Comfort Food

Big Mac > noun (pl. Big Macs) 1 Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun
-DERIVATIVES Mega Mac, Monster Mac, Mini Mac
-ORIGIN Latin Biggus Maccus

Okay.  I admit it.  I like McDonald’s.  Not their corporate practices or their environmental heresies, but their burgers and fries and shakes are comfort food for me.  I grew up on them in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, before the golden arches became obscenely ubiquitous.  McDonald’s was a treat for me.  A reward for good behavior.  Or, when I was sick, the treat I received for my suffering.

This became apparent to me during college.  On those rare (cough) occasions when I’d consumed too much alcohol and couldn’t fathom putting any food into my mouth that my stomach wouldn’t reject, McDonald’s was there to comfort me.  When I couldn’t manage to choke down a banana or a peanut butter sandwich or a glass of milk, a cheeseburger, small fries, and vanilla shake from McDonald’s would come to my rescue, nourish me back to health, and make me think that another night of a complete disregard for my liver was entirely possible.

Obviously, there was some kind of conditioned response to McDonald’s that allowed me to be comforted by their frozen hamburgers thrown on a grill and frozen french fries boiled in saturated fat, but you don’t question these things during college, when three meals at Jack in the Box on a Saturday wasn’t uncommon.

Now, I tend to stay away from fast food – partly because I can afford other options but mostly because I’m twenty years older than I was in college and my body tends to let me know about halfway through a QuarterPounder with Cheese that this wasn’t a good idea.

Still, when I’m driving down Highway 101 between San Francisco and Los Angeles or Interstate 5 between San Francisco and San Diego, growing hungry and wishing I’d packed aTofurkey sandwich with Parmesan cheese and fresh spinach and tomatoes on whole wheat bread, I find the siren song of McDonald’s difficult to ignore.  It’s like someone has struck a tuning fork and the frequency is resonating in my brain, invading my common sense, creating a Pavlovian response.  And I start salivating.   Well, not literally.  But it’s so much easier to pull off the road, get a fast food fix and a milkshake IV, then jump on the road again so that I can get to my destination as soon as possible.

This happened to me this last weekend on my way back from Los Angeles.  But instead of caving in to the craving, I stopped at a gas station convenience store, bought an Odwalla protein drink and a peanut butter Cliff Bar, and gave the golden arches the finger.

Now if only I could stop buying Hawaiian Kettle Cooked Maui Onion potato chips.

Filed under: Just Blogging — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 4:39 pm