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★ First, invent the universe

Quite an entertaining read from Waldo Jaquith, on his efforts towards creating the authentic cheeseburger:

A few years ago, I decided that it would be interesting to make a cheeseburger from scratch. Not just regular “from scratch,” but really from scratch. Like, I’d make the buns, I’d make the mustard, I’d grow the tomatoes, I’d grow the lettuce, I’d grow the onion, I’d grind the beef, make the cheese, etc.

Well worth the read for the logical steps of increased ambition – and the Sagan quote at the end. Mind you, it does happen to remind me of another fascinating read from the Awl, conceptualising the McRib as a weird fast food form of arbitrage.

The McRib was, at least in part, born out of the brute force that McDonald’s is capable of exerting on commodities markets. According to this history of the sandwich, Chef Arend created the McRib because McDonald’s simply could not find enough chickens to turn into the McNuggets for which their franchises were clamoring. Chef Arend invented something so popular that his employer could not even find the raw materials to produce it, because it was so popular. “There wasn’t a system to supply enough chicken,” he told Maxim. Well, Chef Arend had recently been to the Carolinas, and was so inspired by the pulled pork barbecue in the Low Country that he decided to create a pork sandwich for McDonald’s to placate the frustrated franchisees.

Such a global reach, requiring post-agrarian society and massive economies of scale, all just to create “food” like the McRib. What a waste.