Cuisine, Empire, and the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese

Of all the methods by which I poisoned myself in college, my frequent trips to McDonald’s have assumed outsize shame in my adult conscience.  Forget the cases of Utica Club, the double cranberry vodkas from the Village Tavern, the array of other substances with which I dulled my wits — in my embarrassed memory it is the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese that bulked up my ass, muddled my judgment, and transformed me from the sylph-like high-schooler with good accessories and great skin, to a pallid, voracious, bleary-eyed monster.


One wonders how much shame she would have experienced gorging herself on Chilean seabass (overfished) or foie gras (banned in Chicago for a couple of years under pressure, if I remember correctly, from the goose lobby).

In any case, in her new book Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History, Rachel Laudan shows there's a class dimension in food. At one time food was divided into rich and poor, like fashion. Now there are "middling cuisines" in which local and world cuisines get mixed together to feed the middle classes, who remain vaguely satisfied, except in moments of intense dissatisfaction, with the arrangement.

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