Friday, August 7, 2009

Food Atrocities, or, the Terrible Things I Put in my Body While Working at McDonald's

I suppose the short entry for this would be, well, everything.

At the time I worked at McDonald's, the summer between junior and senior year in high school, they were still fighting the good fight against health and nutrition. It seemed, at the time, that McDonald's was waging war against the nation's waistline and arteries. Not that things are much different today, but they, and the rest of their fast food cabal, at least put up a good everything's-great-we're-all-gonna-be-healthy-from-now-on facade.

Anyways, one of the few, more likely only, perk of working at a fast food joint is the freedom to tinker with the ingredients at hand. Unlike messing around in your own kitchen where your creativity is limited only by the ingredients at hand and your imagination, fast food inventing is an exercise in working with in certain boundaries. You have to use what you've got, basically.

While I was never on the food prep line, thankfully, come break time I'd do my best to throw something together. At first just grabbing what was at hand was fine, but with such a limited menu one must change and grow. Man can not live on McNuggets alone!

My favorite meal at McDonald's was, is, and always will be breakfast. They easily have the best in the biz and thankfully my time there didn't spoil that for me. While I worked breakfast shifts from time to time it was never a break time option. So, unlike the rest of the menu, it was never ruined for me by eating it 3-5 times a week on break, and, on the rare occasion that I'm up and near a McDonald's in the morning it's a nice treat.

At work one morning, towards the end of my McTenure, I was given my lunch break just at the end of the breakfast run. All the leftovers had just been pulled and were still in their warming trays. By this time in my short but illustrious career I'd exhausted myself on any and everything from the lunch menu. I did a quick scan of the breakfast remainders and spotted a Sausage McMuffin(!) without egg (opposite of exclamation point). Further searching yielded an Egg McMuffin and the possibility of building my own Sausage McMuffin w/Egg, the crown jewel of the the McBreakfast. But, oh-no!, the ham on the Egg McMuffin was stuck fast by the cheese, not a ham fan it seemed my dream was over before it began, until, that is, I decided to just let it slide. I put my super McMuffin together and had at. And let me tell you, this terrible Frankenstein of a breakfast sandwich was amazing! The saltiness and fattiness of the ham mixed with the spicy sausage patty, two pieces of cheese and that perfectly round egg? Shazam! said the sandwich to my taste buds. Freeze! it said to my pulse. Tingle! it said to my left arm. I haven't tried this since, nor do I plan to, and I must admit I felt fairly awful for the rest of the day, but for a one time thing it was totz worth it.

As I've said a few times so far, working at McDonald's does wonders for killing your desire to ever eat there again. Whether it's seeing how things are made or what they're made from or who's making it, the overkill of a daily diet of the stuff, or a combination after you thrown your hat down in disgust and walk out chances are you'll never want to walk back in. Chances are good, too, that this will happen before you quit, which was the case for me. The last month or so I worked there, I could barely look at the food I was serving, let alone think about eating it. This meant getting creative come break time. Probably the largest canvas to explore at the golden arches, outside of the sandwich realm, is ice cream. I invented a few pretty great McFlurry combinations that weren't on the menu. The biggest boon to this endeavour was the discovery of frozen cookie dough in the freezer. So, if you know someone who works at McDonald's or a just a charmer ask for this: cookie dough, Oreos, and hot fudge mixed with 3/4 a cup of soft serve and 1/4 vanilla milkshake.

And there were drinks, too! Besides the endless variations on floats and shakes that could be concocted we had just gotten a "cappuccino" machine put in. A drink we invented, and something I still concoct at gas stations from time to time, is as follows: fill a large coffee cup half-way with coffee and 8-10 creams and sugars, fill remaining half with French Vanilla "cappuccino." Hot Cocoa is also a good topper, and if you have access to flavored creamer so much the better, just half the sugar you add to it.

I feel a little sick just thinking about this, but at seventeen you think you're indestructible. I'm sure I'll pay for all of this some day.


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