Prologue: This is something that I have thought about for quite some time now. And at the risk of exposing the inner workings of me, I have decided to share. Good, bad or otherwise.
Caught in the moment. Ever since I can remember, I have been one to get “caught in the moment”. The moment being sort of feeling/zone that time seems to stand still due to my mind being lost in the experience. When I was in first grade, I had a good talking to by my teacher Mrs. George about turning all of the letters of my name into characters which I can only imagine took forever in class. I was caught in the moment. While being very small and confused, in retrospect, I can see how being caught in the moment for me, was to my detriment in this instance. When I read, I find myself being caught in the moment. Getting caught up in one phrase that takes me deep into the author’s mind. Once again, to my detriment, creating a very slow reader. Anything that affords me to be caught in the moment in any sensory related way, is appealing to me. Food is one of those things that affords me to be caught in the moment…
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a decent cook. I have made a few meals in my time, that have been great. Not to brag. It’s just how it is and needs to be stated as a precursor.
One of my favorite meals of all time is a McDonald’s sausage biscuit with cheese and a large Diet Coke, light ice. Diet, because the syrup tastes too sweet in regular Coke. Light ice, because the drink doesn’t last long enough to get warm. I have this about once a month. Not too often, to destroy the magic. But often enough to enjoy the experience. As a matter of fact, this would probably be “that last meal” if given a choice. Safeway’s Deli Select Roast Beef on Wheat with Cheddar and Flaming Cheetos would be a far second on the list of simple tasteful pleasures. But that’s another story. Another moment.
In the enjoyment of this delight, there is a caveat to this all though. In order for this meal to be right, certain traits must exist in this sausage biscuit – add cheese. The biscuit must have a slightly browned shell. Not that slightly golden, just finishing up look. But the brown that would insinuate that the process went just too far. This reflects the hardness of the exterior that I need to have to apply pressure to break through. If the biscuit if light and fluffy on the outside, it’s just not the same. I know that most people that love biscuits probably consider a biscuit with a similar consistency through and through, to be the ideal biscuit. I do as well, for the most part. Just not in this instance. There needs to be a consistency difference.
Secondly, the sausage patty must show signs of done-ness. That char-like blackness that one can sometimes see in the crevasses of the contours of the meat. Also there should oils pocketed in these crevasses. Once again, perfection of consistency is not the key in this. Just a subtle difference in the exterior versus the interior is all that is needed. But it must be present, or the mixture of textures does.not.work.
And lastly, the cheese should be slightly darker than the norm with the four corners drooping over the edges of the patty from its own weight with droplets of sweating oil gathering. The drooping should occur from the cheese just giving up in holding its form and not from microwave phenomena.
The best I can surmise as to how to achieve this, is by letting the finished breakfast sandwich sit under a heat lamp for at least 15 minutes. I have never worked at McDonald’s so I am not sure, but I feel like that is how this perfect specimen is achieved. I can honestly say that more than half the time, the sandwich comes out very close to these parameters and that’s enough of a gamble to keep ordering it.
That being said, there are really only two optimal bites in this endeavor; the first and last. Every other bite is just a shadow, a remnant, of these two bites.
The first bite: I make sure to bite where a corner of the cheese is on display and at my mercy. Obviously, there is a higher cheese to biscuit/sausage mass ratio here as opposed to anywhere else, save the three other corners. I don’t know if this adds to the experience, but it must as I am remembering it so vividly. All of the textures that are presented in this bite dance around in my mouth are highlighted by this saltiness that is on the verge of just being too much. But it isn’t too much. On the uncomfortable cusp of just…there. In that moment. The saltiness, with the presence of the juicy yet crisp sausage patty and the buttery fluffiness yet crisp biscuit filled in with the creaminess of the melted cheese are tantamount to that of cliche oral explosion. The sides of my tongue through to the utmost tip of my tongue are attacked with the simple, slightly salty, pleasing taste that activates my saliva glands with Pavlovian accuracy. It is truly a blissful experience.
Once the first bite is over, comes the next rewarding part; the cleansing. In many settings, the cleansing of the palate is a crucial part of cuisine. While I have not heard of anyone using Diet Coke to do this, it works. Have you ever seen what Diet Coke can do to tarnished silverware, battery terminals, oil spills? Oil spills. Yes. Essentially the residue of the first bite has created an oil spill within the confines of my mouth. And upon drinking Mc Donald’s Diet Coke after that first bite, a symphony of destruction and delight follow. When the liquid comes in contact with the oral interior, there is an immediate chemical reaction. It feels like glittery dancing within and a thousand little fairies washing away the remnants. I can only imagine what is really going on as every nerve ending in my mouth is brought to attention. But the sensation is amazing and is the pinnacle of the whole experience. And that is all that matters in the moment.
Breathe. Reflect. Ponder the sensation. The taste. The physical feeling of it all. Breathe…In the moment.
And thus starts the whole experience (yet a bit diminished) over again with the second bite.
The in-between bites are quite enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong. They are just not the same as the first (100% of the experience) an the last (95% of the experience). The exterior textures are not there, which, as stated before, are required for the full effect. To fully be caught in the moment.
Epilogue: In writing this introspective experience, there are parts that I personally find awkward, somewhat off-putting, slightly uncomfortable, undeniably blissful but most of all, honest. It exposes a raw nerve that I do not share. Mainly an aspect of how I think. If you’ve made it to this point, thank you for taking a moment.