Last week I confirmed what Terri had earlier reported to me, that the Central Square Burger King has gone out.
What I didn’t tell her at the time is that I was a bit saddened by this, because it was my secret escape from the suburban-office-park-within-a-city that is Tech Square. I wasn’t a regular; it’s a bit more of a hike than some other lunch spots. But when I needed to get away from the corporate atmosphere, I’d head to Central Square. It’s less than a half-mile or so away, but it’s practically on another planet.
I think a lot of liberal types tend to avoid fast food chains on principle, but, at least in cities, they tend to be pockets of diversity and they’re not really that homogonized. (I have toyed with the idea that the Central Square BK actually had a little too much character, and that’s why they got shut down).
At the Central Square Burger King, you ordered from the two french-speaking black women at the counter, were cleaned up after by a quiet, aging one-eyed Sikh. (I always wondered so much about his story in particular. How did he lose the eye? How did he end up here? Why? The turban and the overall gravitas of his bearing never quite managed to fit inside the Burger King uniform). Your fellow patrons would be a bunch of Latino landscapers, a stray business guy, a contractor who would keep yelling into his walkie-talkie “I’m telling you, Joe, I’m at the house and I’ve been waiting for you here for 2 hours”, a pack of MIT kids— themselves a mini-Model UN, what seems to be a Korean pastor talking to the church accountant, and a guy sleeping in the corner.
I leave as an exercise to the reader to compare & contrast this with the homogeneity of the Starbucks near the Marriott between Tech Square and Kendall Square. Or even of my beloved Toscanini’s, the local independent coffee shop/ expensive ice cream monger near Central Square.
Some similar sentiments were echoed in a recent Bostonist post about the Somerville Market Basket:
The place is always impossibly full of people, abuzz with happy family energy and inexplicably harmonious: although shopping cart gridlock regularly makes the checkout lanes look like the Sagamore Bridge rotary on a Friday afternoon, tempers rarely heat up; Haitian grandmas coo in Creole at Brazilian babies while their parents ask questions in Portuguese and the employees respond in Spanish; old ladies speaking languages Bostonist can’t even recognize ask for help retrieving products from high shelves. It is one of the few places where the jolly, no-big-deal multiculturalism of public television cartoons is a reality
And similar in spirit, a recent Dervala post, on organic produce:
I’m glad that I’m rich enough to afford gently-reared food, even if it’s fertilized by the bullshit of fussy white people.
I have not found a replacement yet. Central Square has a McDonalds, but the line I cross in fast food is where the food actually makes me feel sick and still-hungry.