Thursday, 30 August 2012

McDonalds, Shires Retail Park, Leamington Spa/Stratford-upon-Avon

This is the food equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey - pulpy, superficial yet unaccountably popular. Having vouchers and suffering from an attack of penury was what brought us here, but I don't avoid the place as a rule, although it certainly provokes strong feelings: Metonymic for insidious capitalism of globalization? Most ironic sponsor of sports events ever? Or the Great Leveller answering a perennial demand for cheap food?

Either way, I don't tend to go and not out of adherence to any particular ideology. It is just that the place is always too loud and too crowded; but access in both branches is fine. The thing that holds you up or makes it difficult to manoeuvre is not the seating arrangement but the number of people and the incessant meandering around looking for somewhere to sit. There is always at least one small child careering out of control and inevitably crashing into you and at least one grandad with an over-laden tray that can't properly see where he is going.

The decor in the Shires store is still bright white, while the Stratford one is greens and browns, presumably to invoke within you thoughts of earthy, organic, wholesome foodstuffs. Which it isn't. Of course it isn't. It never was and it never will be. You don't have to make a film about eating nothing but supersize portions to realize that this stuff will harm you in the long term. I had the cheeseburger, Drew had the Big Mac. The portion sizes are not large - the burger is about the size of the palm of your hand, as is the box containing six chicken McNuggets. The burger itself is served in a flat, doughy roll and the actual meat portion in both our meals was not substantial. The cheese had the consistency of melted plastic. The whole thing is drenched in tomato sauce with two gherkin slices that rendered the top bread portion rather soggy. On the second visit I went for the McNuggets, a portion of six with a nice crunchy coating. These were quite tasy, though titchy. The fries were crisp and super salty.

And I scoffed the lot. Did all the unpleasant terms associated with greed - gorged, rammed, bolted, gobbled, gorged. Partly, I suspect because there's nothing like being told something is unwholesome to make it irresistible. Partly because there is clearly some complicated biochemistry going on with whatever they do to the food that zings your taste receptors or serotonin levels. Yet it doesn't actually taste of anything. The best I can describe it is, it tastes of hungry.

Latte: *****
Access: *****
Chips: *****

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