Let me first say that I haven’t eaten a McDonald’s sandwich since high school — and not single fast-food burger of any kind for at least a decade. I’m not sure if that makes me more or less credible on the issue of the McRib, but don’t worry, I’m not going to offer any opinions of my own.
Looking … back into pork price history, we can see some interesting trends that corroborate with some McRib history. When McDonald’s first introduced the product, they kept it nationwide until 1985, citing poor sales numbers as the reason for removing it from the menu. Between 1982 and 1985 pork prices were significantly lower than prices in 1981 and 1986, when pork would reach highs of $17 per pound; during the product’s first run, pork prices were fluctuating between roughly $9 and $13 per pound—until they spiked around when McDonald’s got rid of it. Take a look at 30 years of pork prices here and see for yourself. Also note that sharp dip in 1994—McDonald’s reintroduced the sandwich that year, too. Though notably, they didn’t do so in 1998.
There’s even a chart of more recent pork prices, correlated with the introduction of the McRib (black lines):
Sure, correlation is not causation, and the conspiracy theory delves deeper in to the economics of price arbitrage than I’m really comfortable vetting, but the essential point is clear:
McDonald’s is so huge that it moves markets, and it would be wise to both realize that, and profit from it.
After all, the McRib was born when McDonald’s ran out of chickens for chicken nuggets.
If there are two recurring themes on Absurd Intellectual, it is the enjoyment of and appreciation for food and drink. Wait. Is that one theme? I’m trying to say that food and beverages are the two themes, not the enjoyment and appreciation.
In any case: food and booze. Yes.
Often the two are inextricably intertwined, but never moreso than in Hanna Hart’s ongoing (?) web series “My Drunk Kitchen.” In each episode, this young lady gets drunk and makes food, all the while dispensing wisdom of a sort.
I have embedded the most recent episode (number six), but all the previous shows may be found at Hart’s website.
NOTE: After posting this, I noticed that a new episode has been posted. Guess what I’m watching right now?
Candied bacon Adapted from the amazing Andrea Albin and her recipe for frozen peanut butter pie in the September 2009 issue of Gourmet.
Makes 10 strips
½ pound bacon (10 strips)
¼ cup sugar
Dash ground cinnamon (optional, to taste)
Pinch ground coriander (optional, to taste)
Pinch ground chile powder (optional, to taste)
If using spices, stir them into the sugar and mix evenly.
Lay the bacon in one tight layer in the heaviest, widest skillet you have, and set it over medium heat. If you can’t fit all the bacon at once, do this in multiple batches. Cook the bacon, flipping after a few minutes, until it’s nicely shrunk, starting to brown, but still pliable, about 6 minutes in the pan. (If you want to make a whole bunch, do it in the oven: Lay the bacon out, again in one layer, on a rimmed, parchment-lined sheet tray and bake in a preheated 350 oven. Check on the bacon in about 20 minutes.) When ready, pour off the fat, saving it for other, delicious uses, and let the bacon drain on paper towels.
If you plan on serving the pieces in half, cutting them now is a good idea, and it will probably let you fit more pieces in the pan at once. Set the skillet back on medium heat with as much bacon as it will take in one layer. (Sorry, bakers; you’ll really want to do the candying step on the stove so you can keep an eye on the sugar.) Sprinkle the sugar over the bacon, remembering to save some if you’re doing this in multiple batches, and let it cook until the sugar melts. At this point, turn the heat down to medium-low and keep a close eye on it, making sure it doesn’t get too dark and burn. With tongs, swish the bacon around so that it’s entirely coated in the molten sugar. When the bacon looks dark and shiny, and the sugar has taken on a light brown color of its own, remove the bacon to a plate or a cutting board to cool. Make sure you give them some room so they don’t stick to one another, and DON’T PUT IT ON PAPER TOWELS. Trying to rip the stuck bits of paper towel of candied bacon is more impossible than trying to de-toilet-paper your tree. Once it’s cool, trick or treat!
Note: Candied bacon can be stored out of the fridge in an airtight container for a day, but will lose its crispness. If you want, you can precook the bacon and refrigerate it, and then candy it with the sugar the day you want to serve it.
At a special chocolate event at Winnipeg’s The Forks Market, I got to try a wonderful thick-cut bacon that had been dipped in spicy chocolate. It was delicious.
That’s “Cooking with ’SNER”, as in making food with Old Style Pilsner — the Canadian version of a hipster beer like PBL. Imagine if the Trailer Park Boys had a cable access cooking show.
Check out Episode 2, in which they make a summer SNER snalad for a starter, then finish with ricotta spinach chicken served on rice and a 6 pack of SNER.
Thanks to my cousin Mitch, who sent this on to my uncle Rod, who passed it on to me. He claims we are going to have a Cheeseburger Picnic — ’sner style — next summer. I will be watching my inbox for the e-vite.
I’m salivating. Click on the thumbnail or here to read the whole story and to see a couple of full sized photos that show off this huge burger. It was created at a café in Syndey, Australia, and it was done just because the café owner wanted to attempt a world record. At 95.5 kg, this burger is about 13% bigger than the previous record-holder. It took 24 hours to create, 12 hours to cook through, and three months to plan.
The Wheel of Nutrition helps you figure out your portions, based on what kind of eater you are.
The wheel of nutrition is a dining plate that reminds us of the fundamental values of nutrition. The plate comes in three types: Diet, Extra ordinary and Supersize. These plates have different proportions for people with different needs. The archetype of the ceramic plate is enhanced with explanatory graphics and distinctive colors.
It’s an interesting idea, but maybe instead of having three types of plates, there should be just one, with the recommended proportions for a healthy diet, rather than the “Super Size” where the vegetable portion is teeny-tiny.
Grant and I often have a hard time coming up with things to make for dinner (as I’ve gone on about before). We have our staples, but sometimes we want something different, and are both too easy-going to decide. What do we do in those circumstances? We turn to the internets.
But sometimes, even looking for a recipe online yields too many options, and we just end up shrugging at each other going, “I dunno, what do you want to make?”
It’s so … angry! I feel like it’s yelling at me, and I was eager to click the first selection (which takes you to the recipe on another site) out of fear that it was going to be mad at me for saying “I don’t fucking like that.”
As you can see, it’s also vegetarian friendly, and I love the disconnect between the foul language and the extravagant sounding recipes.
You know how sometimes you get a hankerin’ for some meat, but you don’t know exactly what? You’ve overdone it on the beef and you had bacon for breakfast. Chicken and fish are okay, but they don’t have that exotic feeling you are looking for. Maybe wild meats are a little too gamey for what you are looking for…
What is someone with carnivorous tendencies to do?
Don’t worry, though. Nobody is hunting unicorns. As ThinkGeek explains:
Unicorns, as we all know, frolic all over the world, pooping rainbows and marshmallows wherever they go. What you don’t know is that when unicorns reach the end of their lifespan, they are drawn to County Meath, Ireland. The Sisters at Radiant Farms have dedicated their lives to nursing these elegant creatures through their final days. Taking a cue from the Kobe beef industry, they massage each unicorn’s coat with Guinness daily and fatten them on a diet comprised entirely of candy corn.
Mmmmm-mmmmm! This has got to be better eating than most canned meats out there.
In short: factory farming wrecks the environment, and killing animals is cruel. Cox makes the same arguments, but says they don’t apply to oysters:
Oyster farms account for 95 percent of all oyster consumption and have a minimal negative impact on their ecosystems; there are even nonprofit projects devoted to cultivating oysters as a way to improve water quality. Since so many oysters are farmed, there’s little danger of overfishing. No forests are cleared for oysters, no fertilizer is needed, and no grain goes to waste to feed them—they have a diet of plankton, which is about as close to the bottom of the food chain as you can get. Oyster cultivation also avoids many of the negative side effects of plant agriculture: There are no bees needed to pollinate oysters, no pesticides required to kill off other insects, and for the most part, oyster farms operate without the collateral damage of accidentally killing other animals during harvesting.
Also, they don’t feel pain. Unlike, say scallops. So avoid scallops.
But oysters? Heck, eat all you want, says Cox. Ethically, he says, they’re as great as plants: “Even if that animal looked like a bunny rabbit crossed with a puppy, it would be A-OK to hack it into pieces for your dinner plate.”
Last year, I blogged approvingly about a new Irish whiskey cocktail, based (a bit) on a traditional Irish breakfast. I even linked to an article about it, and gave the recipe out.
This year, I’ve actually purchased the ingredients, and pledge to try it. I believe it will be my first time drinking raw egg. I bought free-range Omega-3 eggs, because it makes me feel like I’m minimizing my chances of contracting salmonella.*
Here’s the recipe:
1 ounce Bushmills Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce cherry liqueur
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1 whole egg.
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake very vigorously, for at least 10 seconds, to emulsify the egg. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Of course, that seems fairly labour-intensive, so I’m thinking about quadrupling the recipe and doing it in a blender. I will report back on Thursday, when the brain-fog has cleared!
*Regarding salmonella, the numbers are in my favour: “Scientists estimate that, on average … only 1 of every 20,000 eggs might contain the bacteria. So, the likelihood that an egg might contain (salmonella) is extremely small – 0.005% (five one-thousandths of one percent). At this rate, if you’re an average consumer, you might encounter a contaminated egg once every 84 years.”