Shortly after noon on Saturday, I was walking down to the car rental place on 77th Street. We were off to the country to visit some friends. I was feeling a little peckish, as the British say, so I decided to grab something quick to eat on my way. On a whim – I swear I don’t do this more than once or twice a year — I popped into McDonald’s and ordered a Quarter Pounder with Cheese to go. I unwrapped it and was happily munching away as I walked down Broadway, when I ran into a friend who also happens to be a regular follower of this blog.
“What’s for lunch?” she asked with a smile, but when I got closer and she saw what I was eating, the smile turned into a look of disbelief and disillusionment.
“Well, you know …” I blushed and tried to hide the sandwich with my other hand. Maybe, I thought, I could convince her it was a buttered baguette stuffed with imported prosciutto.
“What is that, a Quarter Pounder?” This was from another acquaintance who happened to be strolling by with his wife. The two of them are well-known Upper West Side foodies.
“Well, every now and then … “ I mumbled, trying to extricate myself from the growing mob.
“Oh, the big gourmet,” said Frank, another foodie acquaintance of mine who popped up out of nowhere. “Those things’ll kill you,” he said with a supercilious look.
The crowd was growing – in both size and hostility. It was like I had defiled some shrine or something.
The problem became the smell. If you eat anything from McDonald’s – even if it’s just a diet Coke or something – the smell stays with you for three days. You can shower; you can brush your teeth; you can change your clothes – it doesn’t matter – you smell like McDonald’s for three days. I think it’s part of their marketing philosophy.
Now the smell was actually drawing people – from across the street, from around the corner – fourteen members of the Upper West Side Chapter of the Chaine des Rotisseurs showed up out of nowhere and surrounded me, babbling in French. They pointed at my half-eaten burger and shook their heads with disdain.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. But oh, how I yearn for years before I had my food blog, when I could chow down on the street with anonymity.
Those days are gone for good.