Clowned (or: The Cosmic Weight of a Bad Burrito)

Perhaps what interests me most about food is its ability to communicate. A meal is not merely a sensual experience but an emotional one as well. The amount of care, creativity or attention to detail that someone invests in their cooking is translated through their food to us, the eater. You’ll often hear people liken home-style comfort food to a warm embrace. Of the few that have had the good fortune (ie: $$$$$$$$$$) to dine at The French Laundry, many have described an ethereal, almost spiritual experience. Accordingly, the breakfast burrito that I got from the McDonalds drive-through the other morning felt like a $2 hand-job from a blind hobo.

I know McDonalds is an easy target but I assure you that I went into this with the appropriate (low) expectations. I’ve had this item (the McSkillet Burrito) before and frankly, as far as bottom-of-the-barrel fast food breakfasts go, it’s usually not that bad. But after an unsettling first couple of bites, I opened it up to reveal this massacre…

I cannot imagine any of this having been cooked within the last week; every bite was a mouthful of dusty textures, stale flavors and sharp edges.


Technically speaking, this is an egg.

So is this.

Either these were left under the heat lamp for days on end, or McDonalds is harvesting their eggs from infertile, 90 year old chickens.

My point isn’t that “McDonald’s food is gross” or “this is why we’re fat” — that ground has been covered. What occurred to me as I unwrapped the tortilla to reveal its cold, crusty innards is that this is why we’re sad. Food like this–that is raised, cooked, assembled and served with so little care; such little respect for the animals and environment from which it came, or for the people who harvest, prepare and consume it–doesn’t just suck because it tastes bad or gives you the runs. This food sucks because the message that it carries with it, through every step of its journey from (factory) farm to table, is “you are not worth the effort.”

I have one criteria by which I judge food (or music, art, or almost anything for that matter): Did the person making it give a shit? Whether it’s a breakfast burrito or butter-poached lobster–if you have standards, if you feel the need to exert a little effort into making life a little more worthwhile, then maybe I should too. But this breakfast burrito was the latest offspring of a cycle of carelessness; “I don’t give a shit” ringing out in stark four-part harmony; one giant, barely-edible “fuck you” for the world to gnaw on.

Morgon Spurlock only scratched the surface: the ultimate dystopian image of a culture that subsisted solely on food like this is not just a population ravaged by obesity and heart disease, but a race of barely animate, sweatpant clad drones with crippling depression. Drained of all imagination or motivation, waddling the surface of the earth eating whatever, thinking whatever and doing whatever for the extent of their short, inconsequential lives.

On the up side, my wife’s egg and cheese biscuit was pretty decent!

7 out of 16 sporks