Conscience salad: Finding a balanced meal did not feel impossible. But that quickly felt like a lie.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to become the Morgan Spurlock of Ministop by eating only convenience store food for three days straight.
No one could ever outdo what Spurlock did with his 93% Rotten Tomatoes-rated documentary Super Size Me in 2004 — a self-inflicted fast food foray into the tasty evils of McDonald’s, which he attempted to binge on for 30 days straight. I do not intend to trump the Yoda of documentaries; in fact, all I’m doing is a three-day trial-version of Spurlock’s effort to understand fast food. Or in my case, convenience store food.
Now I know you’re not supposed to eat at a convenience store for nine straight meals. These stores were not really built to cater to a person’s long-term nourishment. And although you may argue that Snacku and fried siomai are integral to your well-being, this is all just an issue where I pretend to be a Ministop slave and draw whatever story I can get from it.
Furthering any views on health isn’t the point here. I’m after the experience of excess and the possibility that any details of going nearly overboard might tell me something common sense can’t.
First day: Paranoia in my pants
I was surprised at what I first bought for breakfast: strawberry yogurt, banana walnut bread, and dalandan juice — all healthy, all from Ministop. I thought everything was harmless until the dalandan juice I bought tasted like melted soap. It was terrible and I shoved the bottle back in the paper bag. I felt a little sick, wondering how I messed up something as simple as juice.
For lunch, I had two pieces of fried chicken, two cups of rice, and a small container of salad, for my conscience. The fried chicken was so oily I felt like I was eating meat with lip balm sauce, like petroleum jelly bursting in my mouth with every bite. But it was strangely delicious and the crispy skin was everything. Every thang. At that point, I was only using the lettuce from the salad to dab the oil off the chicken. I flushed it all down with some C2 green tea and brushed my teeth.
At around 4 p.m. I snacked on six pieces of pork hopia but couldn’t finish it because I felt like I was eating flour.
Dinner was horrible. I slacked big time and managed to choose the worst-tasting stuff. The microwavable sisig meal tasted canned and mineral-like. Bad move. I couldn’t eat it but I did anyway, because I was starving. Good thing I had two packs of spicy Yakisoba noodles as reinforcements. Hell yeah rations. But it still felt like eating starchy air.
I showered right after. I just felt so dirty after the day’s meals.
Three hours after dinner I couldn’t help but eat the Spam tocino sandwich that was supposed to be for tomorrow’s breakfast. I was too hungry. I felt like a damn fool.
“How would you rate this experiment so far?” my girlfriend texted me. “Sickening.”
Second day: Sacred salad
I woke up feeling sluggish, like I got trolled in my dreams. But I had to press on. And since I ate today’s breakfast last night, I had to head over to Ministop again (across the flyover on C5 — ugh, come on) before I went to work. But not without a few words from my mom who said I looked too oily to leave.
I went to the store nonetheless and got myself spicy glazed pork with rice, strawberry yogurt, a banana, and some iced tea. All I can say is if there’s no good coffee around, get something spicy.
A few hours after, I scheduled lunch at another branch of Ministop, which paid off because they had a Dizon Farms salad bar. I missed mein veggies, man. I loaded up a bowl of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, a hard-boiled egg, marble potatoes, dressing, more lettuce, and what the — yes — purple lettuce coleslaw. I couldn’t believe my luck. I just kept going up the gram ladder. I started out with 300 grams and quickly climbed to 400. I should’ve done 500 with another scoop of potato salad. It tasted fresh and delicious. I also had a side of spicy Hot Chix nuggets with gravy and rice. Gold.
For dinner, I tried inviting my girlfriend to another branch of Ministop. We agreed to disagree so she took out her Nihonbashi Tei while I took out my two bowls of rice toppings from Ministop — one with Bicol Express and the other, lechon kawali. They were small bowls, so the portions when combined were just right. In terms of taste, spot on. I also found Jinro Soju, which we drank on the rocks while snacking on some Oishi Yummy Flakes. I was getting better at this.
It was just hard watching someone eat spicy salmon sashimi while I had my Bicol Express. I tried sharing my food but she kept rejecting it. I wonder if my taste buds had been so compromised that I was sharing my food a bit too aggressively. Good thing I had one last day to go.
Last day: Believe in the beef
I woke up with the dead face of a call center agent. The idea of breakfast, or any meal after that, was boring. I even ate late at 10:45 a.m. Sweet chili pork on rice, Pocari Sweat, and some mango yogurt. For lunch, I had two pork chops with two cups of rice. It was just like their fried chicken in pork form. I coasted through both meals with the same dead eyes I woke up with.
Dinner — the last meal! — made up for the misery. I discovered Ministop had Palm corned beef and fresh eggs which I could fry at home. Not the healthiest but I found something I genuinely wanted. I just had to buy two cups of rice again and I was set. It was a good way to end a three-day Ministop marathon since I finally relied on myself to cook the meal. I guess if you selected well enough, you’d find some quality. That beef was from New Zealand cows, man.
And that was it. Capping things off with a breakfast meal for dinner was truly an honest-to-self comfort meal. The last three days felt like getting warped into a black hole of cooking oil, but I wound up improvising, surviving, and becoming the MacGyver of Ministop. I started the experiment droning on, imagining Ministop was the last place on earth to get food from, but wound up finding real convenience in a convenience store.