Oct 212016

bigmac1Last week there was a little hullabaloo about millennials and the McDonald’s Big Mac. It seems only one in five millennials has ever tasted one. To children of the ’70s and ’80s, that seems rather incredible.

The closest I get to eating a fast food burger anymore is Five Guys. I’ve pretty much stopped eating any burger that can be passed through a drive-through window. Consequently I have no idea when I last ate a Big Mac. It may have been ten years. It may have been longer.

Now I do remember a time in my life—high school, college—when I ate quite a few of them. McDonald’s periodically ran a 2 for $2 Big Mac special. When they did, some Friday and Saturday nights my friend Byron and I ate three Big Macs apiece.

Yes. We did. With fries, and sometimes even apple pie a la mode. And then we’d go home and go to bed less than two hours later. That would put me in the hospital today.

So what do we have here? That’s not difficult to answer, is it? As embedded in our souls by decades of relentless advertising: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. In its heyday it really wasn’t like any other burger, and there was that iconic third piece of bread in there. Today there are multiple similar offerings, but with the Big Mac as the obvious template.

Despite its name and reputation, it is not a particularly large burger, especially by today’s standards. The entire burger checks in at a little less than half a pound, and contains 550 calories. Demonstrably, I liked the Big Mac once upon a time. What do I think in 2016?


(Click either burger photo for a closer look.)

The presentation was robust, if not very neat. It stood up nicely instead of being squashed. It was warm, and I could believe it was prepared within the last ten minutes.

The taste is largely as I remember. The beef patties are unremarkable, but they taste good. The pickles and the sauce give it a tang I like. Sure does seem like there’s a lot of lettuce and bread, though—and the little lettuce shreds get everywhere. I also wish the Big Mac used the real onions like on the Quarter Pounder instead of the little dehydrated pellets like on the regular hamburger.


This review isn’t about the fries, but they were good. (Not as good as when they had beef fat in them, but they were fine.) I’m pleased the Big Mac still comes in a clamshell box so you can put your fries in the other side.

The Big Mac is a challenge to rate, because as I said, I don’t eat fast food burgers anymore. Nevertheless, that’s the fair arena in which to judge it, is it not? That I don’t eat a lot of fast food doesn’t mean there aren’t millions who do, and I certainly remember enough about when I did regularly as well to craft reasonable expectations. I’ll give it two ratings.

Given a typical town’s Fast Food Alley, if I were set on getting a burger, I don’t think this is what I would do with my $4.19. I think I would choose a Whopper or a Wendy’s burger over a Big Mac. Nevertheless, I think the Big Mac still gets points for originality. There are knockoffs out there now, but they all hew pretty closely to the progenitor. If you like the taste of a Big Mac, then get a Big Mac.

Oh, and you millennials? As you well know, none of this stuff is good for you. Furthermore, there are far more gustatorily satisfying ways to consume 550 calories and a similar amount of fat and sodium. If you’ve never tasted a Big Mac and have no particular drive to, my advice is to remain ignorant.

6/10 as a fast food item
2/10 as a life experience

 Posted by at 2:26 pm
Oct 182016

sweetnessrevBeloved Southern cook, mama, wife, raconteur, and future best grandma ever Christy Jordan is a friend of mine. We live a few minutes apart in the same town. We are two-thirds of a brain and heart trust, along with Conni, that meets for lunch regularly.

Now, I’m disclosing this up front even though Christy just-kidding-but-not-really told me she thought the fact that we were friends might actually make me tougher on her when I reviewed her new book Sweetness: Southern Recipes to Celebrate the Warmth, the Love, and the Blessings of a Full Life. Truly, not so much. I think a lot of her, but she’s earned it.


Sweetness is Christy’s third book. Like Southern Plate and Come Home to Supper before it, it is a highly functional cookbook. It contains easy-to-follow recipes that produce marvelous treats, using cost-effective ingredients you’ll be able to find easily where you already shop.

(And if you want a capsule description of Christy as a cook—she actually bristles a bit at the word chef—that’s it. She’s not about three hours and a lot of pomp and ceremony in the kitchen. She’s into getting something tasty and time-tested that everyone loves on the table so she can sit and enjoy and visit too.)

As you might suppose, Sweetness is full of sweet things—cakes, pies, cookies, candies, and even beverages and fruit salads. There are nearly 200 recipes here, so if you want to make dessert, whether a marvelous version of a longstanding favorite or a new thing destined to become such, you’ll find many choices. There are also a lot of wonderful breakfast options. One of my favorites that works both ways is old-fashioned butter rolls. Christy was excited to tell me about them, so I’m pleased they get the deluxe treatment here.

Besides the recipes themselves, Sweetness contains numerous sidebars with kitchen tips, tricks, and even little crash courses in things like how to glaze, or simple ways to decorate a cake. (Or how to keep iced tea from clouding up, or even a basic baking inventory for your pantry!)

My favorite bonus is that, as in Christy’s previous books and on her site, she liberally shares memories of her own childhood, special moments in her children’s lives, and from-the-soul encouragements. Christy is a talented cook, but she also has a warm heart, a deep appreciation of God’s grace in her life, and a gift for distilling a positive message to its essence.

I don’t much care for turn-that-frown-upside-down inanities, but Christy’s inspirations don’t read that way to me. She can usually get me to shift mental gears and recast a situation. In a world that’s gotten as dark as this one has, that’s a true blessing.

Pre-order Sweetness here, or pick up your copy November 7. It is an outstanding use of a very few dollars and earns my highest recommendation.


 Posted by at 7:00 am
Oct 172016

Several years ago I answered the door one Halloween night, and one of the accompanying adults was a wife/mom about my age, or maybe a year or two younger, from down our street. She was wearing a good Wonder Woman costume. And it fit her very well. I don’t remember managing to get anything witty out. […]

 Posted by at 9:59 am
Oct 072016

I don’t often go picking on something beloved without a perceived greater purpose, but I’m going to today. I don’t like Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” I never have, and I never will. Furthermore I don’t understand what is supposed to be so appealing about it. (There are lots of songs I don’t necessarily like but can appreciate.) […]

 Posted by at 8:04 am
Oct 032016

So there’s this film out there about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Eleven people died, with several more wounded. The resulting environmental and economic damage was catastrophic. The Gulf economy has largely recovered in many places, but a lot of livelihoods perished and never came back, too. I don’t want to watch a movie about […]

 Posted by at 8:06 am

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