Fast Food

There is a thing going on in my head that’s been bouncing back and forth since I got home the other night.  About food and the quality thereof.


For example, E and I went to Botany Downs the other day to do some shopping (mainly to get the extended warranty on the new 3DS), and we decided to stop by and get some lunch at the food court.   Sounds dangerous, right? like a thing that should not be undertaken at any cost?  You’re probably right, but hear me out.


While yes, there is a McDonalds in this food court, and the other stalls are also big chains that I’ve seen in other food courts, the food is good.  You know, except for McDonalds.  E ended up getting a chicken sandwich from Oporto, and I ended up with some chicken korma from Shamiana.


Yes, chicken korma.  Indian food.  The combo meal contains the korma (or whichever curry you choose), a serving of rice (basmati), a big piece of naan (food of the gods), and a drink.  I opted for a Coke because I was filling my caffeine requirement for the day.  It’s not a lot of food, it all fits on one plate, and would by no standards be considered a full meal by any American opinion.  However, I could barely finish it.  But that’s not the point, the point is, it was good.  Heavenly good.  I could only wish to be able to cook curry like that myself good.


Oh sure, it’s probably prepackaged and only heated up in the small galley kitchen in the back, but it was tasty.  Very mild, a little sweet, but so good.  Had I not been full (ohman, full so quickly lately it’s amazing), I would have mopped up the korma liquid with my naan until there was nothing left.


This goes to something that is so true that I have found, just because it’s fast food, it doesn’t have to be bad food.  Let’s face it, McDonalds is bad food.  It just does not taste good.  It is grease and cardboard and the flavors are just horrible.  And if at some point I find myself craving the salty fries or the greasy chicken nuggets, I relax and tell myself that I will regret it in the long run, as I know my insides will reject the foodstuffs that I just fed it.  The only thing that has had me stopping by a McDonalds in at least several years has been the Sweet Tea.  And even now I can make my own that tastes better.


So, from the delicious lunch at the food court with fantastic Indian food, we jump to the next day, where my nostalgic brain decided that breakfast sounded fantastic and that I missed Denny’s.  Yes, you read that right, Denny’s.  Processed, prepackaged, microwaved and reheated food served in what is considered to be decent pace.  Again, down here the portion sizes are definitely smaller, and it’s completely noticeable at a place like Denny’s, where it’s an American company.


There is no ordering a shake and then having it delivered in a tall sundae glass, with the extra in the metal mixing container right next to it, being delivered.  Hashbrowns are the exact right portion size, and there is no such thing as getting a short stack of pancakes drowning in cherry fruit syrup and topped with whipped cream and ice cream.  You can get your short stack, and you can get it with syrup and butter.  But there is no where on the menu that has any other options.  The menu has been changed to include international foods, like curry and satay, but still, it’s Denny’s.


And it was the worst meal.  For a company with set guidelines and standards as per the American system, it was horrible.  the best thing about my order was the hollandaise sauce.  E’s salad even managed to be flat.  A better experience, and cheaper, was had at the little Italian place we stumbled into down in Milford one night.


So, I had a point here somewhere, but I think it got lost in my remembering the absolutely mediocre and thoroughly disgusting and disappointing experience at Denny’s.  And it was a point beyond ‘nostalgia is a bunch of lies, your stomach lies to you’.


There’s a multitude of things with this post.  One, I’m adjusting to the Kiwi portion sizes and that’s a fantastic thing to be able to say.  Sometimes I’m even finding them to be too much.  So that’s a good sign for the weight loss.  Another thought is, fast food doesn’t have to be bad food.  And good food doesn’t have to be slow food.


Now, in the sense of full disclosure, I have read and finished every book by Anthony Bourdain (other than his 2 fiction novels) and his opinion on fast food is mostly the same.  Street food is good food.  Local food is good food.  A bowl of noodles and soup that’s cooked up on a small grill of flaming charcoal while you watch can be just as good tasting, if not better,than the bouillabaisse you’ll find at the expensive restaurant that you’re going to tonight.


E and I go out to eat, I’m not saying that everything needs to be homemade, we do go out.  But we don’t go out to McDonalds or Arbys or KFC, or any of the other fast food chains. We go to a local sushi place where we’ve become regulars of a sort.  Where the food is good and prepared with some speed but still care.  It’s not necessarily slow food, but it is good food.


And I do cook.  I have made two whole chickens in as many weeks.  One I boiled for broth, the other I roasted in the oven, and both made their uses well known.  Now, I might change my tone when i start working and I don’t have the free time to just write and cook all day, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to settling for substandard food at the cost of speed.


And from what I’ve seen, down here, nobody would expect me to.  Again, aside from McDonald’s, most places in the food courts seem to have fresh food.  There was even a fish & chips place that offered to cook the fish in front of you, if you wanted the grilled option.


Try doing that in the US.

One response to “Fast Food

  1. Local eats have almost always proven themselves to trump the big chain companies.

    It is my belief that the big chains are the bar for what’s deemed as edible. If your food tastes worse than what they have on their menu by comparison, don’t get into the food business.

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