I wasn't actually going to confess this to anyone, but apparently I'm seeking absolution or something, because here it is: I've eaten breakfast at McDonalds twice this week. This may or may not be shocking to you, depending on your opinion of McDonalds, but it's pretty shocking to me, because I generally try to avoid fast food where I can, for a host of cultural, ethical, and (mainly) nutritional reasons that I'm sure I don't need to get into.
But man, you can only be pious for so long, can't you, and after a while a sausage McMuffin with egg starts to sound really delicious. In my defense, I would also like to point out that the McDonalds I have now frequented twice is IN THE LOBBY OF MY OFFICE BUILDING, meaning that since I started working here on Monday, I've been forced to walk past it thirteen times (on the way in, on the way out, and twice at lunch), and the fact that I haven't stopped there thirteen times instead of just two should surely make me a paragon of virtue and self-restraint.
(In a hilarious coincidence, the thing that's in the lobby of my office building back in San Francisco is MY GYM, and I seem to avoid popping in there every time I walk past it just fine.)
The other thing, of course, is that this McDonalds is no ordinary McDonalds, but it is instead a MCCAFE (oh yes!), which is apparently really big in Australia. What this means is that the seating is really sleek and slick and you sort of get the feeling that if the McCafe was in fact a hotel and not a fancy McDonalds, it would totally be the kind that has flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations and Aveda products in the bathrooms.
What this also means is that I was able to "upgrade" my #4 combo this morning to include a latte (oh yes again!) instead of regular drip coffee. The fact that the latte---well, really it was a "latte" if we're being technical---came from the same sort of industrial-grade machine as the milkshakes and McFlurrys come from is neither here nor there, as it was actually surprisingly palatable. You know how sometimes you just have to watch The Hills, even though every single character on it makes you want to claw your flesh until you bleed, and you're well aware that you should really be watching something earnest and important like Masterpiece Theatre or a documentary on saving the aardvark but you kind of just don't have it in you to change the channel? Well, it's the same sort of thing, I guess: sometimes you just need a bland, milky latte in a non-biodegradable cup with a fast food joint logo on the side, the kind of latte that would make a professional latte artist at, say, Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco screech with horror.
(Typing "professional latte artist" just now made me immediately picture a dude in a smock with a paintbrush tucked behind his ear, staring thoughtfully at a canvas decorated with crema swirls, no offense to any professional latte artists who may read this site, of course. And hey, come to think of it, if there are actually any professional latte artists who read this site, you guys might want to get in touch with the folks at McCafe. Apparently they need your help pretty badly.)
In an effort to right the balance of the universe after scandalously feeding my hard-earned dollars right into the grubby hand of The Man himself, I have been eating fairly locally this week, and it is all thanks to my new Singaporean co-workers who have taken me to some little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that I would never have found myself. I'm not sure if you've ever been to a Chinese restaurant with a person who speaks Chinese (well, three people who speak Chinese, in my particular case) but it is a different experience entirely, and you find yourself trying all sorts of wonderful things.
Yesterday, for example, in a tiny stall tucked away on the top floor of Lucky Plaza, I ate the most delicious chicken rice, which, as well as being Singapore's national dish, is pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be: a breast of tender, succulent roast chicken and some rice, scooped up with a fork and a spoon (the spoon goes in your mouth, never the fork, which is just for corralling food onto the spoon) and made even better with a tiny pinch of finely-minced ginger from a communal pot on the table.
Together with a can of soda, it cost me the equivalent of $3.50, which my brother and sister assured me, when I got home, is actually on the expensive side as chicken rice goes. This was excellent news, as I have now been so won over by chicken rice that I plan to sample all the chicken rice in Singapore over the next two and a half weeks and, as we all know, the economy is in shambles, so hey, every little bit helps, you know? Unfortunately, I was on such a roll with the pleasing discovery of the chicken rice that I had a why-the-hell-not moment right afterwards and ill-advisedly bought a cup of sugarcane juice that was so sweet---I guess the name should have tipped me off---that I got a blinding headache after half a sip. Still, in the land of new culinary discoveries, one out of two ain't bad, I guess. And at least the sugarcane juice wasn't from a McCafe.