In the new Dev Patel film The Green Knight, his character, Gawain, is given many ominous and foreboding warnings during his chivalric quest to face the titular creature. Ghosts and forest spirits warn him of his doom and beseech him to turn around. They tell him the enemy is someone he knows. But despite all evidence that moving forward is a death wish, he goes to meet his fate.
Saweetie, too, gave us a grave warning. A chance to turn back, to save ourselves, and to not go down a ruinous path. On July 29, the California rapper changed her Twitter handle to “BIG MAC MAMA” and wrote, “WHO’S READY FOR ONE OF MY INFAMOUS CONCOCTIONS?!! #TheSaweetieMeal x @mcdonalds coming soon.”
She warned us that, ten days hence, her celebrity McDonald’s meal was coming, joining the culinary ranks of BTS, J Balvin, and Travis Scott before her. She even called it an “infamous concoction,” like a fairytale witch. One of nouvelle cuisine’s most divisive gastronomes would soon have thousands upon thousands of kitchens operating as her laboratory. This wouldn’t be a matter of food reporting, but one of public safety.
For those who don’t know much about Saweetie outside of tracks like “Best Friend” with Doja Cat, she has a tendency to do some wild shit with food, like if the Ratatouille strawberry-and-cheese pairing scene got infected by a computer virus. To Saweetie’s credit, she appears to make and enjoy actually good, sane food, too; her mom is Filipino Chinese, and she’s spoken at length about her love of dishes like chicken adobo and lumpia. She’s been known to take ginger shots for probiotic health. On her breakout track “Icy Girl,” she raps about “eating fettuccine pasta / with the scallops and the lobsters,” which is frankly as aspirational as anything we’ve ever heard. But on Instagram, she’s also known for posting recipes that would make a college kid say, “I’m good, thanks.” The McDonald’s Saweetie meal announcement led to a crop of memes, which of course are how we cope with imminent tragedy:
The only way to gird my guts for a Saweetie McDonald’s meal would be to inoculate myself by cooking and eating like Saweetie for a week. I chose her strangest-seeming combos; no indulgent crab-leg mukbangs for me. Like The Green Knight, this would be a saga of man facing his own mortality.
In March 2021, a video went viral of Saweetie liberally squeezing a bottle of ranch dressing over a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce. Drew Barrymore bravely tried it on her talk show and actually thought it was good. At the time, I watched and mused that it makes sense, because “what is Alfredo if not hot ranch?”
Having tasted it and, worse, smelled it, I take it all back. The splurt of store-bought Ken’s ranch had me skeptical from the get-go, and then I got a hot whiff off the plate, which smelled acrid and artificial. All blended together, the result was more Russian dressing gone bad than vodka sauce. This one sparked an actual gag reflex. I really caution against the recipe, but if you just have to go for it, at least wash it down with a very low-acid wine to counter all the bile your body will naturally produce once this slurry hits your gullet. Let’s say an oaky chard?
Thursday: Ramen oysters
Saweetie seasons her oysters with Top Ramen chicken seasoning, and it sounds kind of good, like a dry-brine mignonette. This combo, along with Cheeto-topped pizza, once prompted Snoop Dogg to say, “That’s why her music is like this. Shit’s creative.”
But I screwed up here. Some friends were meeting for dollar oysters in Williamsburg, and I figured I could pick up any old packet of ramen at the nearby bodega. Unfortunately, the only bodega or grocery store for blocks had just higher-price, authentic Korean brands of ramen, because this was Williamsburg. I grabbed a spicy chicken one, only to open it at the bar and discover that rather than fluorescent powder, it had packets of seaweed flakes, sesame seeds, and a thick, spicy hot sauce. Was the combo delicious on an oyster? Yes, like something you’d get on a nice Asian-fusion tasting menu. Was it true to Saweetie? No, in that it wasn’t the way she would have done it, but yes, in the sense that it was improv.
Sunday: Flamin’ Hot noods
In September, Saweetie tweeted a cooking video that deserves a permanent installation in the National Museum of American History next to Julia Child’s kitchen. Titled “The only way to make ramen,” it begins with Saweetie, in full glam, seasoning a Cup Noodle with Tabasco sauce and something called “Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend” (I could not find this, but I want to try this). Then she strains the noodles dry. And lastly, she dumps them in a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. “Nobody showed me this, but I’m telling you. Don’t tell nobody,” she says, imparting a forbidden wisdom as she pulls out a neon-red bite.
This was one of the better drunk foods I’ve ever had, even though I was dead sober. I seasoned and strained my noodles and dumped them into an open bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, shaking the bag and swirling it around with chopsticks. The bite was salty, spicy, and made for an addictive mix of textures –– tender noodles with crunchy, dusty Cheetos. It reminded me of Frito Pie, half the fun of which is in the novelty of doctoring a bag of corn snacks to turn it into dinner. My roommate and I finished all the noodles in the bag and then dumped in some leftover rice to have with the rest of the Cheetos. “This is something I’ll crave when I’m pregnant,” she said. We polished it off in front of The White Lotus, and I had heartburn all night. (Buyer beware: Please enjoy Saweetie concoctions responsibly and have Tums on hand. In fact, a little packet of Tums should come with every Saweetie Meal.) It was Saweetie Meal’s Eve. Could her McDonald’s offering top this high?
Monday: McDonald’s Meal
Saweetie is a known connoisseur of the McGangBang, a DIY fusion of the Big Mac and the McChicken. She dresses hers with fries on the inside and sweet-and-sour sauce in a puddle over the bun. But the official Saweetie McDonald’s meal is made up of a Big Mac, fries, a four-piece nugget, Tangy BBQ sauce, “Saweetie ’n Sour” sauce (just sweet-and-sour sauce with cute new packaging), and a Sprite. In the spirit of the rapper, promotional materials on the McDonald’s website encourage customers to “Remix It Like Saweetie” by making a McNugget sandwich, say, or putting fries on your Big Mac. Cute, I thought. But I had been eating like Saweetie for a week. I wanted to kick things into Fast Motion.
One immediate improvement over some past McDonald’s artist collabs was the visual branding, which was strong and consistent across the packaging. There’s the big, attractive Saweetie Meal logos and diamonds on the bag, her own name-brand sauce, and even fries with a note on the box instructing you to “Share with your best friend. Or don’t.” I’d share with my roommates, but not before I did some concocting of my own.
Step one was to deconstruct the Big Mac to see what I was working with: two patties, one American-cheese slice, so much lettuce, extra pickles, and some onions ground up so fine and pasty that I couldn’t extricate them from the bun. A vision unfurled before me. This is my design.
First up was my appetizer course, a side salad made of all that shredded lettuce, tiny torn-up bun croutons, and a Saweetie ’n Sour dressing. This was weirdly good and extremely fine, like a coleslaw, if not a bit too sweet.
Accompanying the dish was a poutine of sorts, which I made by picking the cheese off the Big Mac and dotting it on the pile of fries. Burger bits and a barbecue sauce “gravy” rounded it out. This dish emphasized how inconsequential the actual beef patties are to McDonald’s, despite its whole thing being burgers. I pushed the strips of thin, gray, processed meat to the side of the plate to better enjoy the fry/cheese/barbecue combo, which was great.
For the main course was an improvised McGangBang with the other burger patty, three nuggets arranged atop it, and pickles, all between the remaining two buns. The crunch of the nugs between the soft buns was a super-fun fast-food texture and flavor experience. Could have done without that other patty.
… But that was an hour ago, and now my stomach hurts and I have a headache. Even though I listened to the limited-edition fries box and shared the whole shebang with a bestie, the Saweetie meal is still more salt, sugar, and calories (1,695 mg, 60 g, and 1,260, respectively) than most people can handle at lunchtime. I don’t feel glamorous or anything like how Saweetie looks in the promo materials, where she poses with a diamond-encrusted tray and ketchup-red nails. I feel like a blogger who’s been eating shit all week. Yes, the customizations were fun, because playing with your food always is, but like a less-hot Dev Patel in that A24 movie, I’m wary of the path I’ve chosen to go down with these food reviews. These collabs have been a hit for McDonald’s, and I fear what comes next. In the week since the Saweetie Meal was released, stan Twitter started imagining what other celebrity tie-ins would look like. It’s all fun and games while we’re just making memes, but what if one day there really is a Kim Petras meal? How would I survive that? I fear one more of these celebrity promos will radicalize me into M*rg*n Sp*rl*ck (famously not a pretty bitch).
Plus, for the $12 post-tax price tag (slightly more than the BTS meal), you can go to a happy hour and order a dozen dollar oysters to fuck with however you wish. Saweetie would approve of that, too.
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