Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is It Un-American If You've Never Eaten a Big Mac? (If You Aren't A Vegan/Vegetarian, of course)

Today is apparently National Hamburger Day.  So, of course, I thought we would have hamburgers for dinner.  Then something occurred to me.  My son has never eaten a Big Mac.  Is it un-American of me not to expose him to what may be the most famous American dish in the world, the renowned "two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-bun" of commercial fame?

It is not that we don't eat hamburgers, at least now.  I didn't eat beef for over 25 years after reading Diet for a Small Planet  by Francis Moore Lappe and realizing the environmental impact of eating meat, particularly beef.  But several years ago, after trying to become more of a locavore after reading The Ominovore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen, I started to eat beef again because it was easier to get local beef than it was to get local poultry under North Carolina's food laws, and I've given up most fish that isn't sustainable, although that makes it really expensive.   But my husband and son really favor beef, so hamburgers are a part of our diet these days.

Fast food, however, is not.  My son and I abandoned the fast food industry in 2005, when we watched the movie Supersize Me, which told the story of documentarian Morgan Spurlock's attempt to survive for one month eating only food from McDonald's.

So my son, who was only six at the time, watched about 15 minutes of the movie, and then turned to me and said, "I'm never eating at McDonald's again."  "The problem is, honey," I told him, "that the other fast food places aren't really any better."

And that was it.  Since that day, we have only eaten at fast food restaurants under "emergency" situations, like when we are traveling and we can't find anything else open, or when my mother was clearly going downhill rapidly (physically and mentally speaking), and she really wanted to eat at Wendy's.  I'm really proud of my son, because since seeing that movie, he has never been tempted at all to cheat, despite whatever wonderful Happy Meal toy McDonald's was pitching to the children.

But, of course, at the time we abandoned McDonald's, he was too young and his appetite was too small to be eating a Big Mac.  So he's never tasted one.  Of course, there are many other mainstream things he has never experienced--like going to school.  But, still, it crossed my mind that maybe he should know what the big deal is about a Big Mac.

Then I found this great website.  It is called The Burger Lab:  Building a Better Big Mac.  It is really fantastic, because this guy has figured out everything about how to have a Big Mac experience, but with healthier and even better-tasting ingredients.  I mean, this guy even calculated how many sesame seeds there should be on the bun!

Of course, his version of the dish was much too much work for me to do, at least tonight.  But now at least I know that, should I really decide that I'm not a good mother if I don't provide my son with the Big Mac experience, I know where to go to get the ultimate recipe for it.

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