Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Will Self reviews fast food
November 27, 2009 6:54 AM   Subscribe

"Real Meals": Will Self's (relatively) new fortnightly restaurant column reviewing high street food outlets for The New Statesman. Thus far: McDonald's, KFC, Indian Restaurant, Starbucks, Subway.
posted by hydatius (72 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heh. Well worth it for paragraphs like these:
What can we say about Kentucky Fried Chicken - as it was formerly known - or KFC, as it is known now? Well, the chain is a "concept" (yes, that's what they call them), along with Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, of Yum! Brands. With its 36,000 restaurants in 110 countries, Yum! is the biggest fast-food purveyor in the world (and, if you accept the strong anthropic principle, the entire universe). That's a lot of bones - not, I hasten to add, that we can blame KFC for all of them. Colonel Harland Sanders, of the string tie and snow-white locks, may have founded his first fried chicken outlet as long ago as 1952, but the relentless strut of this headless foodstuff across the known world has been greatly facilitated by religion.
posted by jeremias at 7:05 AM on November 27, 2009


Very witty.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:06 AM on November 27, 2009


surprise: rich snobby fancy people don't like fast food (or the people that eat it).
posted by lemonfridge at 7:16 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great stuff and good to see him back at the trough - his Observer columns were great and the paper's sacking of him (for doing what junkies do) a real loss.
posted by rhymer at 7:16 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not a lot of meat on the bones (forgive me) of these articles, but the KFC article is worth a read for the amusing comparison of poultry eating and Tibetan Buddhist sky burials.
posted by baserunner73 at 7:22 AM on November 27, 2009


surprise: rich snobby fancy people don't like fast food (or the people that eat it).

In what world is Will Self 'fancy'? I actually thought he came across as reasonably empathic towards the people in these pieces (in his characteristic miserable-bastard sort of way).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:25 AM on November 27, 2009


> Many pundits attribute the success of the chain to one simple perception - Subway is the healthy option.

For many years I was able to delude myself into thinking this was so. Over the years I've abandoned many formerly-beloved fast food restaurants (Pizza Hut was first, then KFC* and McDonalds) because I went in one day, got my usual order and received an unmistakable message from my body as I chowed down; "This isn't really food! Don't eat it!" Last week this finally happened with Subway, so I guess they're out for me, too.

I also once read that some heart doctors are in the habit of calling subs "heart attack logs," which didn't help.

* which, all possible accusations of snobbery aside, is truly, truly awful. They have easily the worst fries by a major chain (even worse than Harvey's), and the chicken tastes like jellied grease.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:28 AM on November 27, 2009


surprise: rich snobby fancy people don't like fast food (or the people that eat it).

If I had to characterise Will Self, it wouldn't be either of these words - it would be clever. I assume he's pretty well off, but he's no snob. And the point of much of what he writes is that's he's a dazzling and ratger surreal literary stylist; the subject matter is often incidental. I'd go back and read a couple of the pieces again (or perhaps for the first time) and see if this is really what you think. If it is, then I won't argue with you.
posted by rhymer at 7:46 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


^ It heartens me to see some random hate for Harvey's fries. Never have I had a Harvey's fry that was not wilted, smooshed in some fashion, and laden with grease. An order of fries from Harvey's is a sad thing to look at, nevermind trying to enjoy eating it.

While we're at it, can we all admit that Harvey's hamburgers have the exact same level of quality as the frozen hamburger patties sold in bulk by fifth graders to raise money for the school trip? That is to say, the patty has a springy texture and tastes like a mouth full of sawdust with grease.
posted by autodidact at 7:50 AM on November 27, 2009


What's the US equivalent of 'chav?'
posted by fixedgear at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2009


surprise: rich snobby fancy people don't like fast food (or the people that eat it).

I see no reason why you can't call out crappy food or the people that eat it because of sensitivities about class. What's next? You can't criticize some drunk yob who's puking in a doorway or pissing in a fountain for fear of upsetting their proletarian sensibilities?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


oi mum ee don't loike it

oo wooda fickin gissed
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:54 AM on November 27, 2009 [15 favorites]


then topped up the 16oz bucket with Fanta

I find it quaint that europeans still think of 16oz as large. I believe that would qualify as "child-size" or "small" in these parts.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I'd hardly call Will Self a snob... though he's not shy about showing off his eridition.

I actually think he's a bit of a man of the people. I remember seeing him an interview once saying that if he's catching a late night train he likes to share the cab with the driver for a chat like some train-spotter. Though I don't think many train-spotters would offer to share a joint like Will apparently does.

And he loves post-it notes.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


> What's the US equivalent of 'chav?'

This guy? (actually, I think he's Canadian...)
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:01 AM on November 27, 2009


Woo-hoo! KFC is changing back to Kentucky Fried Chicken! I mean, it's fine for us to call it KFC, but that's not what should be on their actually signage.

KFC is, FWIW, in my opinion fucking lovely but highly subject to the staff running the franchise. That goes's for all the KFC rip off as well.

A gallery of KFC rip offs in the UK.

Weirdly I have never had a decent KFC meal in the US (could be the franchise thing), and you can't get fries with your chicken here either. Boo!
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was disappointed to learn that there is not a chain of British fast food restaurants named Indian Restaurant.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:05 AM on November 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


For many years I was able to delude myself into thinking this was so. Over the years I've abandoned many formerly-beloved fast food restaurants (Pizza Hut was first, then KFC* and McDonalds) because I went in one day, got my usual order and received an unmistakable message from my body as I chowed down; "This isn't really food! Don't eat it!" Last week this finally happened with Subway, so I guess they're out for me, too.

I also once read that some heart doctors are in the habit of calling subs "heart attack logs," which didn't help.


The quality of the food at these places not withstanding, the fat content might not be the issue we've been taught to believe it is. I mentioned this on another food-related thread, but have a look at Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. The implications are fairly staggering.
posted by Zinger at 8:05 AM on November 27, 2009


It heartens me to see some random hate for Harvey's fries. Never have I had a Harvey's fry that was not wilted, smooshed in some fashion, and laden with grease.

Doubly tragic because the Harvey's of my youth - must've been before some corporate takeover - had the best fries in the chain-restaurant biz. They were handcut with bits of peel still on 'em, fried deep brown, the closest you could get to an Ottawa Valley chip truck at a fast-food joint. Harvey's was our family'a fast-food restaurant of choice because the fries so pleased my Ottawa-raised dad.

Now? Yes. A travesty. On the rare occasions I do succomb to nostalgia, however, I find their burgers less devastating to my fairly sensitive gastrointestinal system (giardia - the gift that keeps on and on and on giving!) than the big multinational chains.
posted by gompa at 8:05 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Talking of the rip-offs, These ones are awesome. Check the attention to detail! Clearly the UK is far behind.
posted by Artw at 8:06 AM on November 27, 2009


Unfortunately with fast food there is this mythology of sameness, that no matter where you might find yourself in the world, McDonalds fries remain a constant. Except this isn't true at all. Which is remarkable considering most of these chains get their food from a central, controlled source, most have prescribed methods of preparing each and every item on the menu, and most share near-identical equipment (also sourced from the same place).

With all of that, so much still depends on the individual chain in question that there is simply no way one can make a blanket statement about any chain without taking dozens or perhaps even hundreds of samples to account for statistical aberration. I used to adore KFC, for instance, but have sworn off them completely after my more recent experiences.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:06 AM on November 27, 2009


> I was disappointed to learn that there is not a chain of British fast food restaurants named Indian Restaurant.

Me too. I thought maybe they would serve as a parody of real Indian food, a la Summer Movie and their ilk.
posted by you just lost the game at 8:10 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


rich snobby fancy people

Er, he's certainly not a snob, nor fancy. He's a highly successful writer - and a prodigious talent - so I hope he's done alright for himself.

A mate who's a doctor sees him at the Royal London all the time for (already in the public domain) psychiatric treatment. Having bought and loved How the Dead Live this was not a surprise. And, fuck me, can he write.

Hope the New Statesman gets a bump from this as it’s circling the plug-hole circulation wise. Jame McIntyre could also probably do with some in-patient psychiatric treatment.

Oh, and apropos of nothing Self’s demolition of the odious Richard Littlejohn on Radio 5 Live was worth the BBC licence fee for the rest of my life.
posted by dmt at 8:15 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


What's the US equivalent of 'chav?'

If you're asking sincerely, I think "white trash" comes closest to an equivalency.
posted by Shepherd at 8:15 AM on November 27, 2009


Way to go after low hanging fruit there, Will. What next? Airline food reviews?
posted by inturnaround at 8:15 AM on November 27, 2009


Put the thesaurus down Will Self christ almighty I could fucking strangle you. "Animadverted"? "Expatiated"?
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:26 AM on November 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh and now "crepitate"! THESE ARE PERFECTLY CROMULENT WORDAGES
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


hm. will self. didn't know his work before this, so perhaps his other writing has been AMAZING! but these articles seem kind of formulaic, vituperative for the sake of vituperation and, well, half-assed. i get the impression he went into this endeavor with the mindset "god i hate fast food and the horse it rode in on, but let me see if i can scrape the last bit of dried crumbly disgust out from under this greasy table, smear it into my keyboard and make a bit of cash off it." he appears to be doing his level best to keep the scathe-o-meter pegged for the whole article and then ends with--"oh, the food? gross."

i guess i was kind of expecting something a bit more insightful. i mean, who doesn't know fast food is ubiquitous, rather unpleasant and bad for you? duh. is there something more to it? something meaningful? if not, if it is what it is and no more, then push the keyboard away and go do something productive--water your houseplants or take a walk or something--until you discover something interesting and meaningful to write about.
posted by miss patrish at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


I like his lexiphanic prose. Why not use interesting words?

Also, I love hearing his laconic drawl and these articles sound great when read by him (in my mind).
posted by asok at 8:35 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


inturnaround, i couldn't agree more. he might not be a snob, but he sure as hecks writes as one. he misses the bigger picture that people choose these food outlets firstly for price, and secondly for convenience, not because they're great culinary delights.

although if i was on death row, mcnuggets would feature pretty high on the last-meal list.

mmmm, nuggets...
posted by dearsina at 8:36 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"What's the US equivalent of 'chav?'"

I am far from expert in transatlantic translation, but all the portrayals of "chav" I have seen indicate that it's the UK word for "Vanilla Ice wigga."
posted by majick at 8:54 AM on November 27, 2009


le morte de bea arthur: In what world is Will Self 'fancy'? I actually thought he came across as reasonably empathic towards the people in these pieces (in his characteristic miserable-bastard sort of way).


One of the best journalist's descriptions I've ever read of Will is ..."A tall man with an empathetic gangster's face..."



(I've known him for years & I'm still in awe of his brainpower & miserable git charm.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:56 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


le morte de bea arthur : In what world is Will Self 'fancy'? I actually thought he came across as reasonably empathic towards the people in these pieces (in his characteristic miserable-bastard sort of way).

He took the approach of "reviewing" what he knew perfectly well would not compare favorably to five-star cuisine, and mock-self-debasingly taking a stance of surprise at the poor quality of the food and environment. Yes, he appeared sympathetic toward his fellow diners - In the sense of commiserating over the shared traumatic experience of eating such low-quality food. Even his comment about the decor - "All that yellow and orange has been infused with terracotta", as though McD's regulars go there for the tastefulness of the atmosphere.

Basically, he comes off as a pretentious prick playing at rubbing elbows with the "chavs" (which for my fellow Americans, basically means lower-class teens, aka McDonald's core customer base) for the show of it all.

And after all that flowery commentary about meaningless aspects of the "experience", his review of the actual food, practically an afterthought to the post? "But what, I hear you cry, did your succulent juicy beef, your Emmenthal cheese and your toasted, stone-baked ciabbata actually taste like? Let alone your Pentland Dell potatoes, sliced then fried in non-hydrogenated sunflower oil? To which I can only reply: the same old shit."

Gee, y'think, Will?
posted by pla at 8:56 AM on November 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can't decide if "Tikka chance on Ghee" is brilliant or terrible.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:11 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was such an asshole to Karl Pilkington in the documentary about him. I can't like anything he does because of that.
posted by raisindebt at 9:12 AM on November 27, 2009


And after all that flowery commentary about meaningless aspects of the "experience", his review of the actual food, practically an afterthought to the post?

You mean, you were really hoping for a review of fast food?

at least now - albeit in bits - they're spread about, as if having been subjected to a strange inversion of a Tibetan Buddhist sky burial, whereby human beings scavenge bird corpses rather than vice versa

I'd rather read this guy's musings on random topic x than someone's earnest take on the quarter pounder.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:14 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


pla, I think you're confusing Self with a food critic. These aren't reviews as such - he barely mentions the food. They're really just entertaining little pieces that will appeal to people who enjoy Self's writing. There's really no need to take any of it to heart.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:21 AM on November 27, 2009


Gosh, I love KFC. I only have it about three times a year for reasons of diet, but it's gorgeous. Fatty, salty, sugary loveliness.

Have to have some toast now. Hungry.
posted by alasdair at 9:24 AM on November 27, 2009



I can't decide if "Tikka chance on Ghee" is brilliant or terrible.


Best headline never written: "Cumin Spice Girls, Your Thyme Hissup"
posted by bifter at 9:26 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Durn Bronzefist : You mean, you were really hoping for a review of fast food?

Yes, actually. I expected a good bit of humor about the quality, but overall I anticipated a more-or-less legitimate review of the food itself.

Unfortunately, judging by his KFC review, I have to question whether he even tasted the food, much less gave it a serious thought: "how can anything that tastes this awful be quite so popular" pretty much sums it up... Not just in the dismissive tone he takes, but for the fact that it simply doesn't state the truth.

No, KFC doesn't compare favorably to a home-made BBQ chicken. But it does taste pretty damned good (or at least used to, I can't honestly say I've had it in a decade), particularly the batter/skin. People eat it not just for convenience (in fact, considering the messyness, I wouldn't suggest it for a quick lunch break), but because they actually like it. And the mashed potatoes, while having very little resemblance to their namesake... Well, I actually know two people who would list that white mush in their top five favorite foods.

So yeah, I expected better. Not necessarily a "redneck's guide to fast food", but perhaps something along the lines of "slummin' it for lunch and liking it".
posted by pla at 9:30 AM on November 27, 2009


all the portrayals of "chav" I have seen indicate that it's the UK word for "Vanilla Ice wigga."

I can see how you might think that because of how some of them dress, but it's not correct. Teenage white trash would be closer to the mark, though chav's aren't necessarily white, and teenage trash doesn't really convey very much at all.

See wiktionary.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:04 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think "chav" is a uniquely British term (isn't it derived from a locale?), fairly associated with British culture.

The best American translation would be "punk," imo, usually in conjunction with "you little."

he misses the bigger picture that people choose these food outlets firstly for price, and secondly for convenience, not because they're great culinary delights.

Not really, considering he asks them.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:08 AM on November 27, 2009


I'm at the Pizza Hut / I'm at the Taco Bell / I'm at the Combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell
posted by jcruelty at 11:16 AM on November 27, 2009


My history with KFC can be summed up as Me - Charlie Brown; The Colonel - Lucy. I'll remember that I had it a year ago and was disappointed, then walk into a food court when I'm hungry and be tempted, and disappointed, all over again. Fried chicken should not look, feel or taste like a wet nylon shower pouf. If you have to get fried chicken from a chain, at least Popeye's makes it reasonably crispy and tasty.
posted by maudlin at 11:23 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's sort of how I feel about my once-in-a-while McDonalds visits: It all sounds really good imediately before purchase and consumption, and then about halfway through it starts tasting ick and then I feel ill for the rest of the day. Then a few months later I'll think "Mmm... french fries!" again.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, he is a good writer, and the humor was indeed funny, but I would have liked these a lot more if every description of another human being in them wasn't so damn condescending.
posted by bettafish at 11:47 AM on November 27, 2009


I get the feeling Self would describe billionaires dining in five star restaurants in just the same manner, possibly even worse.
posted by tapeguy at 11:51 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's sort of how I feel about my once-in-a-while McDonalds visits: It all sounds really good imediately before purchase and consumption, and then about halfway through it starts tasting ick and then I feel ill for the rest of the day. Then a few months later I'll think "Mmm... french fries!" again.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on November 27 [+] [!]



That rather perfectly sums up my relationship with fast food in general, although my icky feelings aren't digestion-related - I just feel really lethargic and stupid almost immediately after the meal, and then I'm useless for the next 8 hours or so.
posted by tantrumthecat at 11:58 AM on November 27, 2009


During the McDonalds Trial, with stuff like 'our drinks are nutrious because they contain water' I decided to make a stand and have never eaten in there since. With each passsiing year I find it easier and easier.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:24 PM on November 27, 2009


if every description of another human being in them wasn't so damn condescending

Agreed. I'm going to go back and read the others, because so many of you who are familiar with his work find this worthy, but the McDonald's diatribe really turned me off. He went into it with such a superior attitude: "only chavs eat there," etc., that I found myself picturing an insufferable prig. Yet the overwhelming consensus seems to be that Will is just a regular guy. Odd.

And now that I know what a chav is, what is a "Vanilla ice wigga"?
posted by misha at 1:03 PM on November 27, 2009


And now that I know what a chav is, what is a "Vanilla ice wigga"?

White people who are fascinated with what the media tells them is black culture and appropriate it in the most tone-deaf way possible.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:12 PM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm a little bit uncomfortable with the whole chav/"Vanilla ice wigga" concept, given that where I'm from, it's Native (that's perhaps North American Indian, to you) youth who most tend to be "fascinated with what the media tells them is black culture and appropriate it in the most tone-deaf way possible". Course they're not "white people", but that seems like a tenuous hook to hang your hat on.

Not that one marginalized community taking cues from another is quite the same thing as a bunch of middle class bored suburbanites doing so, which is maybe the thing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:35 PM on November 27, 2009


i'm under the impression that all fast food is double disgusting in england in that:
british + chains = depressingly bland + obscenely cheap

in the usa kfc and other cheapo crap merchants have a certain greasy charm i like to call 'disgustelicious'

some parts of these are funny, but mostly it just reads wrong to me for this reason--lots of diverse people in the US eat fast food, especially outside of major cities, despite/because of them being a well acknowledged blight upon the earth. It aint news.

finally i recommend everyone try Popeyes Spicy Recipe w/ red beans and rice and gravy mashed ps before joining the vegan food cults obama will medically mandate in 2012.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:53 PM on November 27, 2009


Next I turned to the Dutch couple sitting next to us: did they have Subways under the Netherlands? "One or two in Rotterdam," the male Cheesehead said. "But, honestly, we don't go in for this kind of thing."

“No," his Edam concurred.
I have no comment, I just wanted to quote this.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:30 PM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a McD's in Maastricht that I think is frequented only by tourists. The Dutch don't seem to care for it whatsoever.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2009


KFC Deluxe Boneless Box. Boneless.
posted by Lleyam at 3:08 PM on November 27, 2009


There's a McD's in Maastricht that I think is frequented only by tourists. The Dutch don't seem to care for it whatsoever.

Jules: "A "Royale" with cheese! What do they call a Big Mac?"
Vincent Vega: "A Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "le Big-Mac"."
Jules: ""Le Big-Mac"! Ha ha ha ha! What do they call a Whopper?"
Vincent Vega: "I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King."

... which I always thought might have been an in joke as when I to Amsterdam within a few years time Tarantino was there writing Pulp Fiction there was a huge Burger King in the center of town but no McDs (plenty in Paris mind)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:13 PM on November 27, 2009


Unfortunately with fast food there is this mythology of sameness, that no matter where you might find yourself in the world, McDonalds fries remain a constant.

I don't know why USAians decided that "sameness" was a good thing, but it has truly taken over our culture. I can understand that you don't want to go to a restaurant and get a bad meal, but chains survive and spread by making cheap, mediocre food. So now instead of getting the occasional bad meal and the occasional surprisingly good meal, we can only get mediocre meals. Some places in the US are more fortunate, but I live in a blue collar town in The South and in our town of 25,000 we have hundreds of chains and 2 tiny, family-owned businesses both of which are diners that feature breakfast and sandwiches. We have Biscuitville and Chilis and Applebys and Golden Corral and TGI Fridays and Waffle House and Popeyes and Papa Johns and Hardees and Chik Filet and Logans and Dominos and Quiznos and too many more for me to remember-- every one of which features menu items that were invented at corporate headquarters and then assembled from frozen ingredients. You don't know what I would give to live in a place were food is NOT pre-assembled for my convenience.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:32 PM on November 27, 2009


Durn Bronzefist: "55There's a McD's in Maastricht that I think is frequented only by tourists. The Dutch don't seem to care for it whatsoever."

I don't frequent that location much at all so I doubt that assertion is accurate, but even if it is it's hardly indicative of US fast food chains in the Netherlands. McD's and BK are everywhere, Subway has penetrated to the sleepy suburb of my hometown so that should mean something, KFC are in the medium-sized to major cities, and we should have exactly five Starbucks (Starbuckses?) by next year, all in the same square.

Nah, just kidding -- they're all in or near major train stations (one of them is at Schiphol, which is of course also an airport).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:10 PM on November 27, 2009


I think this post has made my weekend 10% better. Feeding Frenzy is one of my all-time "I emigrated with this" favorite books.
posted by saturnine at 4:31 PM on November 27, 2009


I wish I thought Will Self was as clever as Will Self thinks.
posted by smoke at 4:33 PM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and for a more meaningful (I hope) European perspective, it has always struck me how important US fast food joints are in tourist navigation. You could be hanging out in Istanbul with a bunch of Dutch folks and go "From Taksim Square head down Istiklal Cadessi and take the nth right" and get only blank stares, but say "pass by Burger King, follow the street past Starbucks and make a right at Dunkin Donuts" and they'll get it immediately.

That gives them one purpose, I suppose.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:39 PM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


And Bangkok via 7-Eleven.

Yeah, so the Dutch I knew said (with pride), anyway, fearfulsymmetry. But then I think of the Dutch food they must have been eating instead...

(Ok, that's harsh, but I mean... deep fried chips with everything)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:24 PM on November 27, 2009


I read the first two. Criticizing fast food is pretty easy, it's the lowest of low hanging fruit and has nothing to recommend it. It's not healthy and it generally tastes like shit. But this guy is boring and he doesn't seem to have anything new to bring to the table. If it isn't food criticism, it's not funny or interesting either. He's famous for something but this surely isn't it.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:19 PM on November 27, 2009


I - consciously - hadn't eaten in a McDonald's for at least five years before visiting one for this piece, since one afternoon when my then three-year-old had a full-blown hyperglycaemic fit after taking a couple of slurps on a McFlurry.

Bullshit.

You can't slurp a McFlurry, for fuck's sake.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:18 PM on November 27, 2009


There's nothing wrong with British food. Curry is delicious.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:09 AM on November 28, 2009


(Ok, that's harsh, but I mean... deep fried chips with everything)

Mmm... chips and peanut butter.
posted by Artw at 12:13 AM on November 28, 2009


There's a McD's in Maastricht that I think is frequented only by tourists. The Dutch don't seem to care for it whatsoever.

To someone who eats at FEBO, McDonalds must seem like haute cuisine.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:56 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ernest Hemingway's famous six-word story: 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.'

Will Self's six-word story: 'Pain, unutterable pain, stertorous exhalation. Death.'

He sometimes seems like an otherworld David Foster Wallace - his prose has the same juxtaposition of rarely-used, possibly slightly pretentious, vocabulary and slang, moving between vernaculars inside sentences, sometimes even clauses. For some reason though, to me Self's prose always feels a little 'off', like the words are chosen for their obscurity rather than because they're appropriate. It never quite rings true in the way that Wallace's does.

This might just be a taste thing. Most of my friends are of the same opinion, though; he's just a bit much.

He's a good fella to have kicking around the Culture Show / Newsnight Review scene in England. Anything to dilute the Toby Youngs out there.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 3:26 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"There was even someone reading a book - albeit one written by Bill Bryson."

I believe Metafilter has officially been out-snarked.
posted by ErikaB at 11:05 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


He does come across as kind of an elitist food snob, but at the same time, his portrayals of the atmosphere and the people in these fast food restaurants come off as quite honest and thorough. He doesn't seem to let his gourmet tendencies get in the way of actually reviewing the restaurants for their ambiance (I guess this column isn't really about the food).
posted by tehloki at 12:22 PM on November 28, 2009


Reviewing fast food seems to me to be kind of like styling your hair into the shape of a swan with Crisco.

It's greasy, disgusting and entirely pointless -- and you only have yourself to blame for it.
posted by Target Practice at 10:16 PM on November 28, 2009


« Older Last week on Bill Moyers Journal LBJ tapes were pr...  |  Just ease on into one of the m... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments