“Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself”
Michael Pollan in his Food Rules

I’ve been on the road again, in the real food waste land of the Princes Highway. I was heading for a meeting and needed lunch to go. I no longer I chastise myself for stopping for a McCafe coffee, often the best and only option available, but I always feel guilty about even something from the ‘healthy choices’ menu as Michael Pollan’s great maxim rings in my ears.

That’s why I liked this Serious Eats post in their Burger Lab series (that I confess to never reading other than the link I kept to their contruction of Heston Blumenthal’s Blumenburger.)

Building A Better Big Mac is nicely written, there’s some less than appetising photographs to show the process and the post’s responses add depth as to why you might want to recreate the quintessential American junk food item ( mercifully we don’t have any of the baggage  of “an undeniable American icon, inextricably tied with our image”). The Burger Lab first deconstructs the “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions, all on a sesame seed bun” and then creates a politically correct ‘do it at home’ version.
They start by what’s wrong and what could be improved. (Small children and vegetarians are advised to avert their eyes and scroll down.)

Along the way the artricle discusses how important portion-size is, how industrial processing inevitably robs flavour, and the ingredients in that ‘special sauce’ that I’m moved to quote here, again reminding myself of Michael Pollan’s adage about ‘not eating anything with ingredients your grand mother wouldn’t recognise, and with ingredients you can’t pronounce’.

Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor).

From the McDonald’s website.

It’s a the kind of post that the ‘popular’ internet does well. The author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (I’m not sure that’s a real name but embarrassed to ask) is the executive editor of Serious Eats and a lot of why I keep their newsletter in my inbox long enough to click on at least a few links every issue.

See our Michael Pollan stories in the ‘Related Items’ below