Chapter One: The McRib
One of the greater things you can do with a Pla-Doh Fun Factory is take a salty mound of blue, and shoot squiggles of tasty clay out of the holes in a Pla-Doh Fun Factory character's head. This handful of colorful oozes can be squeezed with a helmet-like mold to create the representation of 1970's housewife hair 'du. It's a blast.
This is what I'm reminded of when I open up a coffin-shaped fast food box filled with the oft-talked about McRib. The decorative xylophone of lines that represents an animal's upper torso seems to be a facade. An aesthetics thing. There are no bones. At least not born of a mammal. You would be more likely to choke on a fish bone in this thing. You want ribs? I'll give you a hamburger covered in BBQ sauce, pressed into a set of ribs. With this in mind, McDonald's could also make the McMermaid or even the McHair.
This on-again, off-again delicacy is a wild stallion. That bad boy lead from a romantic comedy. It crops up on menus, disappears. There are whispers: It's back. Limited time only. Then it's gone again. It's Jude Law leaving half-dressed messy-haired 20-somethings weeping in his wake; It's Matthew McConaughey's drawling his refusal to even commit to wearing shoes throughout an entire movie.
This sandwich looks messy. It smells like a concentration of food stands at the county fair, yet manages to not have that classic McDonald's smell. That fleshy stench of wet Doritos that clings to hair long after the extra value meal has been voided.
It's slathered with a sauce that stains the box like the endometrium artwork of a clever old hippie making a statement about womanhood. A period muralist. Raw onions and about three pickles. A soft bun that completely matches the size and shape of the pork patty, as if they were born to lie together in this perfect union.
The McRib is neither bad, nor good. And I'm no snob. McDonald's cheeseburgers are good. It's the lint-sizes slivers of onion. The Filet O'Fish is something else. There it is the combination of cheese-product and Tartar sauce. I'd do some pretty wretched things for a Shamrock Shake, including ordering something I am going to consume from a drive-thru window. The McRib will simply make you less hungry than you were before you ate it. But you could drink 14 mustard packets, and that would coat your stomach for awhile, too.
The McRib seems to have pretty good PR, and its identity is wholly wrapped up in the fact that it is The McRib, rather than the fact that a bunch of pork, smooshed into the shape of ribs, and slathered in a thin hickory-flavored liquid is the perfect melding of tastes.
It could stand for some cheese. Barring that, something yellowish pressed into the shape of cheese. And when it comes to special sauces, the Big Mac has it beat with that Thousand Island tang, and the In-N-Out Burger would kick it in the nuts, and then make it apologize for having left its nuts in a kick-able position.