When it came to food as a kid, my hands down favorite “meal” was a burger and fries. I use the term meal lightly as other than a tiny occasional sprig of lettuce, this delicious American junk food staple is seriously devoid of any useful nutrients for a proper diet. I never really have this combo anymore, as I’m not a fan of constipation, but back in the day it was by far my most requested food. Truth be told, though I enjoyed the burger, my real goal was to get the fries as that’s the only time my mother ever served them. Another way to get fries was the occasional visit to McDonald’s when I would get a Happy Meal, usually opting for a fish sandwich instead. The fries were the real star and second only to the toy that came with the meal, if it was a good one and not something stupid. Those fries don’t exist anymore as they were fried in beef tallow back then. Today, they’re cooked in vegetable oil and McDonald’s adds “natural beef flavor” to get back to that signature taste, but it’s just not quite the same.
Sometimes when I look back to all the food I ate as a kid I wonder how I was able to survive to adulthood. It was mostly fried things and contained more animal fat and oil than one body should be able to handle. But that’s to another childhood memory, the beautiful thing I used to have called high metabolism, I managed to keep chowing down on the stuff without gaining weight. On very rare occasions, Philippe will make hamburgers and when I asked for fries he looked at me like I was crazy. “A burger AND fries?” he asked incredulously. “Where’s the fiber?” I proudly pointed to the slices of tomato, but that didn’t seem to successfully make my point. So this basket of goodness is now just a distant memory of the past and my current reality has shifted to “a burger OR fries.” This is definitely healthier, but it makes me feel too much like an adult which tends to suck the fun out of everything.
But given the choice, I mostly just choose the fries, even though he bakes them with oil drizzled on top rather than deep-frying them. They’re incredibly delicious so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, but with each bite it’s clear I’m no longer a kid. I used to race home from playing with friends and actually arrive a bit early for dinner when my mom told me it was going to be burger night. The anticipation was overwhelming. Looking back, I think it was really the rarity of the dish that made it so special. For example, milk was delicious, but having it each day made it something of a commodity. No, the best meals were the ones that happened less often. I can still remember enjoying foods like these. Foods I cherished and wanted to savor because I knew it would be a long time before I would enjoy them again. Even something as simple as a burger and fries.