Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cheap Bastid's When McDonald's Becomes Comfort Food

Last Wednesday night, I had promised to make spaghetti with home-made meatballs—and believe me, I can make some wicked good meatballs. Well, when I got home from work, Carolyn and I got talking.

She’d had kind of a bummer of a day. She was still trying to get things done with her Mother’s house and that afternoon we took care of the 2 cars that were occupying the garage, selling them to a guy I know who owns an auto repair shop who offered to take them off our hands. And the day before, Carolyn had taken Stucco, the dog, to the ASPCA shelter. So she was a bit bummed by the finality of things—and the house which now lacked occupants or life.

So, with just a minimum of whining, I let her talk me into a treat for dinner for her. For Cheap Bastid, a treat for dinner is a trip to McDonald’s for some McDoubles. I was dispatched to get a half dozen McDoubles off the dollar menu for the 2 of us and step-daughter Meg along with fries. OK, not bad. It’s reasonably inexpensive.

I got home with them while they were still hot. OK, they were warm—what passes for hot at the “golden arches”.

We dug in. Oh man, it was a burger orgy. Now I make a pretty mean burger either in a skillet or on the grill. But every once in a while you just get a jones on for a “gut bomb”. You taste the grease—beef fat—and you taste some salt as you chomp into the brownish-grey blob of meat. As the meaty fat hits your palate you get a hit from the pickle and mustard and then a dollop of sweet from the ketchup. And you feel guilty. You know this isn’t “good food”. It would make a true foo-foo foodie barf—but they don’t know what they’re missing while they’re chomping their $30 Wagu beef burger on a fresh-made "artisan" roll.

Then after a bite or 2 you dive into the fries. They’re perfectly golden—you can never get that perfect shade of yellow-gold at home. Salty. A hint of crisp on the outside and tender ‘tater on the inside. These are heaven. It’s no wonder that McDonald’s has a reputation for making the best “fast-food” joint fries.

Oh, and by the way, why is it called “fast-food”? It took 6 minutes from the time I placed the order for 6 McDoubles and 3 large fries for them to appear in a sack in my hand. I don’t call that “fast food”. I remember as a kid ordering them at a walk-up window at McDonalds. A dime for a burger and twelve cents for a cheeseburger. The person in the window processed the order, took the money, turned around, grabbed the grub, flipped in a bag and handed it to you. All in about 15 seconds. That’s fast food, Bubba.

But what would a Cheap Bastid piece be without some sort of rant? A double-cheeseburger is still a “value” at $1. And, if I were smart, I would have opted for the $1 small fries. But no, I wanted lots of fries and ordered 3 large fries, one for each of us. They’re $2.50 apiece! Damn!

I can get 10 lbs of potatoes for $2.99! $2.50 for a large fry? They’ve got to be making at least 2 bucks for each order. Holy crap! Two-fifty! My six bucks for the double-cheeses ended up being right at $15 by the time I was done. How damn stupid am I? And I didn’t even order sodas—no way, I’ve got soda at home. Cans for the “girls” and my 2 liter bottle of Vernor’s for me.
Yeah, I know, they’re good! But, I just Googled the calorie count in a large order of fries from MickeyD’s. 570. That’s a lot. Damn, they’re good. But that’s a lot. And there’s 30g of fat. And there’s 390 calories in each McDouble. That’s 1350 calories. And I wonder why I’ve been gaining weight.

But…Yeah, here comes the but…they’re good. An occasional binge on McDoubles and fries isn’t all that bad. Or is it?

But, (here’s the real but), when your wife needs a special comfort food—like McDoubles and fries—because she’s bummed from losing her mother and is having to take care of a lot of stuff from the estate, it’s worth it.

And...have you ever noticed that all the pictures in ads for McDonald's fries show the fries over-flowing the container? And when you fish your fries out of the bag they don't even get up to the front lip? Are we getting hosed? Oh yeah, a two-fifty hosing!

So, do you think we overdid it with the bowls of ice cream an hour later? Naw, me either.

And that’s the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful.

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