Grocery shopping here is a frustrating and very expensive experience. Eating local food such as Roti and Doubles is a cheap and cheerful way to go but finding decent imported food is both costly and unreliable. Every now and then a container arrives filled with a new and exciting product and a few months later, when the container has emptied and run out, the shelves are bare. It’s best not to make too many decisions about dinner until the shopping is done as you never know what you will get. Many people cave and go headlong into the fast food option a few times a week.
The busiest KFC in the world is here in Trinidad on Independence Square. While that branch might be the busiest, I suspect that the other Trinidad branches are not far behind. I have never seen as many people eating fried chicken in my life as I see here on a daily basis. Many students rush to KFC during our 30 minute lunch hour, coming back to school with minutes to spare and licking chicken grease off their fingers for the remainder of the afternoon.
It is cheap, tasty and who cares about heart disease and long term health disasters when all that rum dissolves the probable effects?
In the rest of the world fast food consumption is on the rise. Has anyone seen those tv ads where the nice lady serves Mcnuggets on a banana leaf as a pseudo fancy appetizer? If that is not a woeful tale of recession optimism then I don’t know what it. Crowds of people march into the golden arches demanding their $1.00 meal, feeling puffed and victorious with their frugality, but what can a $1.00 actually give you? Is anyone thinking about the substances, rather than food, that is being ingested? When did people put money so far ahead of health?
McDonalds was one of only two companies to close 2008 with a 4.5% increase in their stock value. (The other is Walmart. Surprised?) Wholefoods is crawling through the tunnel of recession despair and the Big Mac rules. There is no MacDonalds down here but Burger King and KFC have line ups round the block. This has always been the way, recession woes have not really hit this corner of the Caribbean.
When I was very small, back in 1974, my family was living in Hong Kong. There was a MacDonald’s there, shiny, new and nonexistent in the UK from where we had recently been transplanted. So it was novel, yummy and there was an exciting replica of a pirate ship that we would crawl all over. A visit quickly became our Sunday night routine. I remember we weren’t allowed to drink our shake until we had finished our burger. Got to get those nutrients in first!
Once my parents realized what we were really ingesting, the visits to the glorious arches stopped and our fridge became filled with the freshest and best food we could buy. We weren’t an obsessed family but we were healthy, yet despite the guilt I sometimes felt, I loved the occasional fast food blitz.
Now I crave fine food, rather than the fast, squashy and wet food that comes wrapped in paper. I am dreaming of my summer in Montreal when I can gorge on gorgeous tomatoes, fabulous cheese, and fresh produce from the farmers market.
Right now I am dreaming of sushi.