Good morning and greetings, winter solstice fans. Well, the days, much like the time it takes me to do a 100 pushups in the morning, are once again getting longer. Autumn is now history, but it went out with a memorable bang, delivering a body blow to the nation’s midsection as the first big blizzard of the season hit on the final day of fall, putting the big chill on holiday travelers, retailers and Santa’s reindeer.
So at this time of year, when the weather turns a bit nippy, my favorite activitity changes from running to chewing. And every once in a while, I stray from my strict vegan diet and enjoy a hearty sandwich. It could be a chicken parmesan, corned beef or bacon, lettuce and tofu. Or perhaps a french dip, patty melt or the old reliable cream cheese and jelly. Then there’s the meatball marinara, barbecued tri-tip or roast beef and cheese. Let’s face it, put anything that once walked between two slices of warm, fresh bread and I’ll eat it.
I believe it was the early Aztecs who developed the first sandwich, a grilled ham and cheese with a horseradish mustard dressing. It has become as much a part of the American landscape as ABC’s “Nashville,” starring the lovely Connie Britton and Hayden Panittiere. It’s been studied and eaten by the great philosophers of our times. As writer Bill Bryson put it, “In three minutes, 98 percent of all the matter there is or ever will be has been produced. We have a universe. It is a place of wonderous beauty and gratifying possibility. And it was all done in about the time it takes to make a sandwich.” And with that, my condiments to the chef.
But there is one sandwich that is my Eliot Ness, the untouchable. And that would be the McRib. But what do we really know about this legendary boneless pork sandwich that is famously molded, caulked and grouted to resemble a rack of ribs? Well, hold on to your mcappetites, because I’m going to give you the low down on this legendary beast of burden that comes slathered in sweet and tangy barbecue sauce on a soft, warm bun.
In a story written by Dina Spector and Kim Bhasin for Yahoo News, McDonald’s announced that the McRib is back. This has faithful devotees of the sandwich and nutritionists dancing in the streets, as nothing in modern sandwich times compares to the following of the shrewdly marketed and boldly bonelessly engineered product.
This grand slam of pork pleasure was supposed to return at the end of October, but was pushed back to help boost end-of-the-year sales just in case the Mayans were right.
So what’s the story behind the McRib? Rene Arend, the inventor of the Chicken McNugget and the Hubble Space Telescope, said that the McNugget was so popular when it was first introduced that the Golden Arches ran out chicken. So out of necessity, as McNuggets were scarcer than finding a Tea Party liberal, McDonald’s needed a new hot-selling product, and the Filet-O-Lobster wasn’t the answer.
Rene Arend designed the McRib after the barbecue-sauce-slathered pork sandwiches he ate during a visit to the Mayo Clinic. The McRib doesn’t contain a single bone or piece of cartilage. With no bones, you’ve got more taste. And no bones means more pork, which means more sandwich, and more sandwich means means satisfaction. And that’s a guarantee you can take to your cardiologist.
Before we go any further, I should tell you that on the McDonald’s website, there a little directive spelling out “The 101 reasons to eat a McRib.” Here’s the intro. “We know you’re out there. The ones who have never tasted the legend that is the McRib. Maybe you’re saying, “Give me a reason to try a McRib. With that tender, boneless pork bathed in our sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, do you really think we could stop at one reason?” The sound you hear now is my rabbi screaming.
In 1972, a professor at the University of Nebraska, Roger Mandingo, developed the “restructured meat product” that the McRib is actually made of . This “restructured meat product” contains a mixture of tripe, heart, and scalded stomach, which is then mixed with salt and water to extract proteins from the muscle. Now doesn’t that sound yummy? The proteins bind all the pork trimmings together so that it can be re-molded into any specific shape — in this case, a fake slab of ribs, frisbee or a new heart valve. When the folks at Burger King heard this, they said, “Go ahead, have it your way.”
McDonalds and the Better Sandwich Bureau says the McRib consists of just five basic components: a pork patty, barbecue sauce, pickle slices, onions, and a sesame bun. But, as reported by Time magazine, a closer inspection of McDonald’s own ingredient list reveals that it contains a total of 70 ingredients, including azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching agent often used in the production of foamed plastics like yoga mats. Well, nothing says improved flexibility, more strength, better concentration, improved posture and better breathing than downing a pork sandwich for the ages.
The McRib has become a legend for its here today, gone tomorrow appearances on McDonald’s menus. And like my obsession with the new Miley Cyrus, it has generated a cult-like following. As they boast at the Arch’s site, “You’ve seen what we did to french fries. Just think about how drool-inducing we can make pork.”
Well, unfortunately, they haven’t quite sold me on taking the McRib challenge, as I’m in training for a pizza triathlon. Let’s face it, McDonald’s has struck gold with this juicy, tender, boneless,semi-real pork concoction on a sesame bun. As franchise founder Ray Kroc himself would tell you, “The McRib only comes once year and you never know when. Tasting one is like catching a glimpse of a falling star.” Check, please.
Today’s photo foray features the first hour of light from last Friday, the first day of winter. This was the winter solstice at its finest, with the added Toulouse-Lautrec like effect of it being the shortest day of the year. I was thrilled when I first saw the early morning sky, as I knew something special was sitting on the horizon. I was shooting up and down along West Cliff as huge waves battered the coast. As an added bonus, after the initial cloud colors disappeared, new ones appeared (photo #4,) which surprised and delighted yours truly. After putting an all-star performance, the sun disappeared into the dark clouds. Two hours later, it was pouring and the storm was in full regalia. But what an opening act.
To check out these photos, click on http://www.SunriseSantaCruz.com/blog