This week at work we celebrated a team member’s birthday with the obligatory afternoon tea. It was a lovely spread; a cheese platter, savoury nibbles, and a lovely passionfruit butter cake. A speech was made and our rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ had heads turning with jealous looks from fellow co-workers. We shared some jokes and wished the birthday boy all the best for his year ahead.
The conversation turned to who was next on the birthday list and it so happens to be the boss followed by me in June. The team can’t wait for my birthday because they are going to make a KFC birthday cake – yes, you read that correctly people – a Kentucky Fried Chicken birthday cake, and I will be chucking a sickie that day. You see, I have never EVER eaten KFC which sends my co-workers into a frenzy of disbelief. They’d be more accepting of me eating a kilo of witchetty grubs! How could I have reached my fine old age without stepping foot inside a KFC joint? They are in wonderment and treat me like I am missing a leg or some other body part.
Now my workmates are on a mission to force feed me a KFC before the year is out and I can tell you (and them) it ain’t gonna happen! It’s not like I’ve never eaten fast food before, because I have. When I was a little girl, I can remember a family day out to London which included my first McDonald’s experience. Fast food was a relatively new dining experience in the ’70s, with the first McDonald’s opening in London in 1974. I can remember standing in front of the counter. I craned my neck to view the picture boards of offerings, which I would have found overwhelming and I’m sure a grownup intervened and made the decision for me. I do remember eating a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate triple thick milkshake – no happy meals back then – it was a treat and a whole new divine dining experience.
Because a trip to McDonald’s was considered a treat back then, we didn’t eat it very often. I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by fabulous cooks and in a world of hospitality, and I soon realised that there were far better food choices available to me than the Big Mac. Once Chief, a chef with a passion for fine dining and first-class ingredients came into my life, I didn’t have to go far for treats anymore.
Needless to say, our offspring weren’t exposed to the fast-food culture, the result of which meant our daughter recently had to add a disclaimer to her Uni exam paper. Whoever set the questions had made the assumption that everyone would know what the interior of a McDonald’s would look like – and she doesn’t!
I can’t say the same for our son who, under pressure from his peers no doubt, has been exposed to the joys of the burger and the nugget, which did lead to my first experience of a drive-in (or is it drive-through?) McDonald’s a few years ago. I ‘d picked him up from somewhere – I can’t remember if it was work, a night on the town or sports event – anyway, he was starving and ‘pleeease Mum, could we stop’. I went to park up. “No Mum, use the drive-through” (or is it drive-in?). ” You’ll have to show me what to do Tom”. The panic was already setting in.
Firstly the menu board (it would have made more sense in hieroglyphics). I think at this stage I pushed the intercom thingy to place the order. Tom had to lean over from the passenger’s side to do the talking – a conversation ensued and I could tell he was well-versed in this practice. We then proceeded to the payment window, and finally on to the collection hatch where his order was already waiting for us. “Wow! that was quick!” I exclaimed. “That’s why it’s called fast food Mum”. He patiently replied; his eyes towards the night sky. It was a revelation! We drove home in silence; Tom made his way through his ‘food-stuff’ while I opened the window to let the stench out.
So as you can see, I AM experienced in fast-food culture but really it’s not what I call ‘proper food’, let’s face it, it’s shit, and once you’ve read Fast Food Nation, you’ll never want to touch a string-fry or suck your cheeks in to a triple-thick milkshake ever again.
You can imagine my fear of being presented with a lovingly team-constructed KFC birthday cake, so if you have any tips on how I can avoid my fate in June, your advice will be greatly appreciated! Bon Appetit!