Day: August 17, 2008

19 years without McDonald's

I’ll probably forget this next year when it’s been 20 years, so I’ll post this while I’m thinking about it….

It’s been 19 years since I’ve eaten at McDonald’s. How do I know this? In 1989, at the age of 19, I spent the summer backpacking around Greece eating and drinking beer. I hadn’t realized it then, but while I was consciously nurturing my taste for beer, I was subconsciously developing a taste for quality food. The food in Greece is very fresh, especially the seafood and vegetables — the tomatoes in Greece are red and are sweet, unlike the orange watery ones in the US. So after a summer of eating very tasty food, unbeknownst to me, my body had become accustomed to good fresh food. The morning after my arrival back at home in late August ’89, my parents took me to breakfast at McDonald’s “as a treat”. They love the place and I think they still go there at least once a week. But that day I couldn’t finish my food and had an upset stomach all day from what I did eat. After 3.5 months in Greece eating the opposite of McDonald’s, McDonald’s cholesterol-enriched stale food was too disgusting to smell, let alone eat. I vowed to never eat at McDonald’s or any restaurant like it again.

And I still haven’t. I’m 38 now, so this no-fast-food thing has lasted half my life. When you can say “half my life” or talk about things you did 19 years ago, you’re officially old. Technically, I did go to the McDonald’s drive-in one morning at 5am back in 1992 or 1993 when I was heading out on a road trip and wanted coffee and couldn’t find any other place that was open that early in the morning. And I looked for an alternative because the coffee at McDonald’s back then was like drinking instant coffee. This was well before Starbuck’s made its way to Virginia. I’ve had the Sourdough Jack cheeseburger from Jack In The Box a couple times late at night while in Seattle as late as 1999. The Sourdough Jack is actually pretty good, for fast food.

I don’t avoid McDonald’s because of my teenage vow or because of health reasons (although that’s a good reason to avoid it). I simply avoid it the way I avoid eating things I don’t like, like anchovies and lousy beer. We’ll see how long I can continue this when Havana and her soon-to-be-brother are begging to go to a McDonald’s.