Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Essay: How to Eat a Burger

Ellie loves preschool. This is great, except for one problem--Ellie doesn't want to leave preschool. And the problem is complicated by the fact that Ellie can throw a tantrum like none I have ever seen or heard of. Believe me, you don't want to be on the crappy end of one of these. They are as long as they are violent--known to last a couple hours or more, and involve kicking, screaming, throwing herself on the ground (always on a soft surface, of course), grabbing, and more.

Thus, as incentive to get my daughter to leave "sool," I've made it routine to stop at McDonald's on the way home to get a cheeseburger Happy Meal with apple dippers and apple juice. (don't worry, preschool is only one day a week.) I always toss the caramel goop. (Whose bright idea was that anyway? Give a kid a container full of sticky sugary stuff, made with high fructose corn syrup, in which to dip fruit. How does that make a Happy Meal healthy?)

Usually, Ellie drinks all the juice, eats about half the apples, and may or may not venture to eat the burger. The last few times, however, she has changed her burger-eating technique. It goes as follows:

1. eat the top bun

2. stick a finger in the center of the meat patty

3. rip out and chew up a few chunks of the meat patty

4. swallow or spit out the meat patty chunks

5. search for the pickle throught the hole in the meat patty

6. take a gander at the cheese product attached to the meat patty

7. demand candy or pick nose

I'll admit, it's kind of gross to watch this process unfold, but it's fascinating just the same. Today, the process was followed by a demand for a banana. She pulled the peel off of one side of the banana and started eating the fruit from the middle, working her way to the ends. It was very strange. I have never seen her undertake this task in such a manner. I am reminded of something similar I once saw in a photograph of my niece, Erika.

And speaking of fast food burgers, I have one final rant. So McDonalds really, really has awful food. I know this is a sharp turn for me because I have always been a fan of the "cheeseburger" and the "chicken" nuggets there. Lately, (maybe a result of pregnancy) I just can't stomach the stuff--the taste just won't go away. So today, I thought I'd indulge myself and get a fillet-o-fish and Ellie and I could enjoy lunch together. I took my first bite, and my only thought was, "mmmmm....freshly microwaved...." Everything about the sandwich was just, well, "I don't really care how this food turns out because I couldn't care less about the poor sap who will eventually eat it..." Really! I mean, can you try to not make it so obvious that you just pulled my sandwich out of the freezer and tossed it in the nuker? I mean, really? I felt so walked on! So disappointing, even for McDonalds...

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