February 2010


And now i know why im a fast food addict ……..

admit it – if you have driven via the N-S highway before, you will have been tempted to stop at the rest point with the A&W restaurant to savour the root beer float, coney dog and curly fries, rite? …

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Feb 14, 2010

I’m loving a bite of nostalgia

By Teo Cheng Wee

Ah, Chinese New Year. My favourite culinary time of the year. A month of indulging in delicious pineapple tarts, bak kwa, love letters and… the McDonald’s Prosperity Burger.

Yes, amazingly this McDonald’s burger has become as much a part of my Chinese New Year diet as the traditional snacks.

In case you missed the advertisements that are liberally splashed in all the papers, the Prosperity Burger is a seasonal McDonald’s burger which comes around this time of the year.

It is, as its advertisement says, a burger that delivers ‘juicy beef patties spiced with black pepper sauce and onions’ – and invariably photographed against a joyous red backdrop and auspicious Chinese characters.

I know what you’re thinking, so let me stop you right there.

If you think I have suddenly become a paid spokesman for McDonald’s, allow me to clarify.

Firstly, McDonald’s doesn’t hire no-name columnists as spokesmen.

Secondly, I hate fast food.

Thirdly, I especially hate McDonald’s. I’m, to paraphrase its own tagline, not loving it.

In fact, I make a face whenever someone suggests eating there.

‘McDonald’s? What are you, a teenager?’ I’ll always ask in a disdainful tone.

‘But I am a teenager,’ my young cousin would usually reply. ‘And stop making a face. You’re not a child.’

Whatever. You can’t reason with kids these days.

Just like I can’t reason why I have already eaten the Prosperity Burger meal five times in the past month, when I haven’t even stepped into McDonald’s five times in the past year.

But then I’ve come to realise that I have a love-hate relationship with fast food, if you can call a relationship that is 99 per cent hate a love-hate relationship.

My reason for disliking fast food is not uncommon: It’s unhealthy, gimmicky, not particularly delicious and often promoted by ghastly mascots (I mean, a creepy clown and a dead colonel? Seriously, it’s amazing kids don’t run away screaming).

Yet, fast food restaurants, with their Disney movie tie-ins, cheery layouts and sprawling playgrounds, have an amazing hold on the young ones.

What’s even more amazing is the hold they continue to have after people have supposedly outgrown fast food.

Therein lies the 1 per cent love.

Take the Prosperity Burger, for example. It’s fairly tasty – I think more so than its regular burgers – but a big part of its appeal for me is its nostalgia.

I still remember the first time the Prosperity Burger was introduced when I was young, as well as the Samurai Burger, which came with teriyaki sauce.

Now these were not exactly the best burgers in the world, but they were the burgers I ate when I was a kid.

Which is why I’m not surprised that Wendy’s is attracting all sorts of queues since it reopened at Lau Pa Sat. Wendy’s had first come here in the 1980s, when people my age were discovering the magical world of french fries and Coca-Cola.

It’s not hard to imagine why fast food restaurants would hold fond memories for people of my generation.

Fast food was still considered a luxury when I was a kid. As such, it was a place my parents took me to only if I did well in school or if I was celebrating my birthday.

Even when I was older, it was a place where I could treat myself only once in a while because meals there cost so much more than at the school canteen.

Nostalgia is the same reason that drives many of my friends to A&W whenever they visit me in Malaysia, where I travel to for work sometimes.

The main draw? Waffles and root beer float.

Never mind that Malaysia is overrun with delightful street food. Or that even I, a culinary idiot, can take out a glass mug from a fridge, pour root beer into it and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The point was that while we were eating, all we were reminiscing about was how we would rush to A&W on Tuesdays because it was Coney Day, when the Coney Dog went for just $1.50.

We would also pop into Malaysia’s KFC because it still has chilli and ketchup bottles, rather than packets.

‘Just like the old days,’ we would say with a silly grin on our face.

Fast food can never compare to mum’s cooking, but from these experiences, it can sometimes evoke the same memories.

And for those fleeting moments, we would forget that this stuff is way too greasy or sweet or overcooked and – like we did all those years ago – just tuck in.

i knew something was wrong when it did not squeak as much as it used to when I was last back home.  a  sure sign of aging ?  perhaps. though it was still quick off the blocks when i fed it.  and how quickly within 24 hours it went to pet-heaven (or wherever dead animals go to) … such is life and that is why i detest keeping pets as much as i lurve pets – the emotional attachment hurts.

well, u had lived a vegetable-filled and fruit-ful five years or so in our household.  may where u are right now continue to be filled with cavy feed, newspapers (which u liked to chew on), fresh veggies (esp. tao-gays) and apples ! … rest in peace dear cavy (we never really named u), ur already missed by us …