The missing ingredient in film’s treatment of fast food workers

I was 14 when my dad drove me to McDonald’s and told me to get a job. I was 17 when I quit, a day that was surprisingly bittersweet. I hated the job, but I’d made memories there—friends, enemies, jokes. I’d met my first love in the break room. She broke up with me from behind a register. McDonald’s was the last place…

It’s always sunny at Jollibee, the irrepressibly happy Filipino fast food chain

The buzziest restaurant in Chicago at the moment has a human-sized bee statue standing guard at its entrance. This 6-foot-tall bee with human facial features and human limbs wears a bowtie and a blazer, but no pants. As I stand before him, suddenly a flash of pink overcoat flies into view from 9 o’clock, belonging to…

I quit all meats and fast food—except for the Filet-O-Fish

I haven’t eaten fast food for going on a decade now. I’m not a snob about it—or at least I try not to be—but 90 percent of the menu items hold no interest for me. In part, this is because I’m also a vegetarian. Well, pescatarian (no red meat, no chicken, just seafood), but that’s a stupid word I refuse to use, and in…

What Canadians understand about ketchup chips that Americans don’t

I’ve tried to remember when ketchup chips first came into my life, but it’s a little like trying to remember the first time I wet the bed. I grew up in the 1980s in Canada, a country that takes its wack-job salty snack foods seriously. Few of these are more revered than ketchup chips. For a while in my early teen…

Tattooed hot dogs, vegan tuna sashimi, and other finds from the world’s largest restaurant convention

The National Restaurant Association show (which unfortunately is abbreviated the NRA Show) is the universe’s largest food and beverage trade show, and second place isn’t particularly close. Held annually at McCormick Place in Chicago, the show floor is brain-meltingly large, spanning the space of 22 football…

Salt grinders are bullshit, and other lessons from growing up in the spice trade

When I was a kid, I had no trouble describing what my dad did for a living. He was a chef (and still is). Harder to explain was what my mom did; there wasn’t a word for her job. And so, with my child’s head full of fantasy and what I read in books, I insisted my mother was a spice merchant. It gave a historical heft…