Diary of a fast-food junkie

We spend three years of our lives eating, so could a diet of take- aways free up valuable time? Tim Hulse put the theory (and his stomach) to the test
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Thursday 7 May

Fast food consumed: 1 Egg McMuffin, 1 Burger King cheeseburger meal, 1 KFC original recipe meal. Rennies indigestion tablets consumed: 4.

8.30am: Article in this morning's paper reveals that, on average, we spend three and a half years of our lives eating. Food for thought or what? What else might I have done with all that time? Circumnavigated the globe? Written several novels? Maybe even finished painting the shelves in my hallway. The possibilities are endless.

Which is why I find myself in McDonald's chewing on an Egg McMuffin ("chewing" being very much a necessity - if you dropped one of these things, it would bounce). From now on, I'm not going to waste any more time on eating. It's going to be fast food all the way. (Cue imaginary trumpets heralding the dawning of a new, action-packed life.) Uncle Ronald here I come.

Fail to win free hamburger in the McDonald's World Cup Years scratchcard game. Apparently, it was McLaren-Ford who won the Formula 1 Motor Racing Constructors' Championship in 1974. So now I know. Never realised that eating fast food could be educational.

7.30pm: Realise that eating fast food can also be potentially harmful to health. While I'm sitting in the Kilburn branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken, picking over the batter-encrusted skeleton of a dead hen, an unseemly fracas occurs. It ends with a middle-aged customer, undoubtedly the worse for drink, being forcibly ejected onto the street by the manager. "I'm going to close this fucking place down!" are his final words of bravado as he's bundled out of the door. Eat the remainder of the meal quickly in expectation of brick through window. Thankfully it never comes.

Notice uncanny and somewhat unfortunate resemblance between Colonel Sanders and Rolf Harris, cheery host of Animal Hospital. Suspect chicken I've just eaten was probably beyond help.

Friday 8 May

Fast food consumed: 1 Big Mac meal, 1 portion of cod and chips at a chippy somewhere in London but I'm not absolutely sure where exactly (look, it was Friday night, okay?!). Rennies indigestion tablets consumed: 2.

1.30pm: Beginning to feel like a foreigner in my own country. Partly because English is clearly not the first language of the people who serve me my meals (ditto fellow diners), but mainly because I'm eating fast food on my own, which is something I tend to do abroad.

Fast food restaurants are an anonymous haven for the solitary diner. I know, because I've eaten lonely Big Macs all over the world, from Barcelona to Bangkok and from Houston to Hong Kong. And when you think about it, old Ronald McDonald doesn't seem to have any mates, does he? Which is as it should be, because Ronald is the patron saint of the lonely eater. God bless him.

Fail to win free portion of French fries by not knowing that Lionel Richie's Top 10 hit in 1982 was "Truly". Could have sworn it was "All Night Long".

Saturday 9 May

Fast food consumed: 1 quarterpounder with cheese meal at tourist trap on Oxford Street, 1 chicken shawarma with halloumi cheese, 1 plate of chicken liver and 1 spinachy samosa-type thing at Beirut Express, Edgware Road. Rennies consumed: 4.

1.45pm: Make mental list of strange things I have eaten in my life:

locusts

crickets

alligator

kangaroo

ostrich

guinea pig

Pot Noodle

All of them were preferable to the glistening ball of grease served up to me at a place called American Burger, its only claim to fame being that it sells "The Best Value Burger In Town". And even that isn't true.

To be honest, all this fast food is beginning to get me down a bit. I daydream continually of lazy hours spent in some local trattoria with waiters brandishing giant pepper mills as I bore my dinner companion rigid with my favourite story of how I nearly died from an infected blister. (An epic saga full of drama and pathos - remind me to tell you about it sometime.) And I'm constantly beset by images of the kinds of food I've now renounced - piquant, summery things like sun-dried tomatoes and olives, and slow, time-consuming things like sausages that have gently been fried to a lovely, black crisp...

And my social life is suffering somewhat. Friends tend to react rather badly when they invite me for dinner and I have to say no, because I'm going to McDonald's. Amazing how narrow-minded some people can be.

8.30pm: Decided to have a change and sample some fast food Lebanese-style. Wasn't very fast and was certainly very fatty, but tasted fantastic. Make note: invent chicken liver burger and become millionaire.

Sunday 10 May

Fast food consumed: 1 Big Mac meal, 1 Big K meal. Rennies consumed: 6.

7.30pm: On day that football Premiership reaches its climax, have decided to stage the Burgership equivalent: the Big Mac versus its new upstart challenger, Burger King's Big K. The ultimate head-to-head!

Having now sampled both, I can announce that the Big K scores highly on texture, making the Big Mac seem a little slimy in comparison. (Heresy! May Saint Ronald forgive me.) However, the Big K bun fell apart and, as usual with Burger King, they went overboard with the vegetable matter.

It was a close call and had to be decided on a ketchup tiebreaker. In the end, the jury (me) voted the Big Mac the winner, simply because the accompanying ketchup came in a little pot, making chip-dipping simple. Burger King provide sachets, which means you have to squeeze the ketchup into a dollop on your tray. Most inconvenient. As Saint Ronald knows, God is in the details.

Monday 11 May

Fast food consumed: 1 Burger King Whopper with cheese meal, 1 Burger King cheeseburger meal. Rennies consumed: 4.

7.30am: Have just spent 10 minutes on toilet. Bowels appear to be seizing up. Feared this might happen. The phrase "I really feel like a burger" has begun to take on an awful literal meaning, in that I feel like my insides are packed full of 100 per cent pure beef.

Have also become obsessed with memory of newspaper story which described the cleaning of a sewer somewhere in the West End. Apparently the amount of congealed fat removed was equivalent in volume to that of a double- decker bus. Suspect my arteries currently contain a similar amount.

6.45pm: Go for drink with a friend. Take advantage of evening sunshine and sit outside the pub. Friend draws attention to the large number of flies buzzing over my head, no doubt attracted by the meaty odours which ooze from my every pore. Worry that life is turning into a tacky horror film starring myself as The Burger Thing - Half Person, Half Pattie. (In the bathroom, no one can hear you scream...)

Tuesday 12 May

Fast food consumed: 1 veggie Whopper meal, 1 McDonald's vegetable Deluxe meal. Rennies consumed: 2. Time spent on toilet: 15 minutes.

7.30am: An equation seems to have come into effect which dictates that the more time I save eating fast food, the longer I spend in the bathroom, bug-eyed and straining to eject it from my system. Clearly something has to be done.

1.30pm: Lunch with veggie friend, who introduces me to the questionable delights of the veggie Whopper. It has a strange, curry-like taste, but she reckons it will sort out my little "problem". This evening I'm going to try the McDonald's version.

9pm: Severe flatulence. Have become walking embodiment of Viz character Johnny Fartpants. But at least I now know that the planet Pluto was discovered in the World Cup year of 1930.

Wednesday 13 May

Fast food consumed: 0. Rennies consumed: 0.

I can't face it any longer. In the past six days, I've eaten nine burgers of one kind or another and 11 portions of chips. Just the smell, even the thought, of a fast food restaurant is now enough to make me feel sick. So it's back to good old slow food from today.

Cold food. Wet food. Food that isn't greasy. Food that doesn't have a catchy name and a silly slogan. Food that doesn't come on a tray and isn't accompanied by the latest chart hits. Food that isn't at a reduced price while special promotion lasts and at participating outlets only.

Sorry, Ronald, I did my best, but I think we're going to have to call it a day. I'd rather spend my life eating.

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