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Day 9: McDonald’s to the Rescue

Day 9: At McDonald's; Don't Judge Me

Day 9: At McDonald's; Don't Judge Me

When the weather’s bad, when local food is sketchy or when I’m missing home, a beacon of hope and comfort can be found glowing in the distance. The yellow arches, they tell me everything is going to be okay because McDonald’s is there to rescue me.

I love McDonald’s, and I love eating it when I travel. Go ahead; give me crap for it, but at least hear me out before you do.

As with anything in life, the key to enjoying McDonald’s is in moderation. I really don’t have McD’s very often, but when I do, I love it… just as I do chocolate cake and cannoli. So, I’m definitely not out there having 3 meals a day in complete Supersize Me style. That would just be crazy.

One of the reasons I go there is because it’s reliable.

When I want nothing other than a burger and fries, something I can count on, I seek out a McDonald’s. You just can’t get a burger in some countries, and other countries just leave me face-to-face with nothing that I like. I think of Spain when I think of this issue, a country pretty much known for its amazing food. What you may not know is that I HATE it.

Fresh, delicious, Mediterranean cuisine — you hate that?

YES. There’s a list of items I just can’t get myself to like, and that includes raw tomato (I can eat sauce, sundried, stewed & other forms of cooked tomatoes), olives (olive oil is still the bomb), mushrooms and seafood (only fish & chips for me). If you’re thinking this sounds pretty lame, I’m totally with you. The curse of my taste buds left me eating ham and cheese sandwiches almost my entire time in Spain!

In situations like that, I crave something I know, like McDonald’s.

aussie beefJust today (as seen in the daily photo), I went to the local McDonald’s in order to eat the exact opposite of what was served at lunch. You see, I went to a Chinese lunch with Pat’s Asian family, and they do the whole order a million dishes and share thing. First off, I hate, hate, HATE sharing food (unless I’m drunk, then I don’t care as much). It’s some crazy anxiety, grossed-out thing I’ll never get over no matter how many times I try.

Secondly, they love seafood, so just about every dish ordered has seafood in it, and if it doesn’t, it has mushrooms! I find it so frustrating to be at a table where everyone is enjoying their meals, but I’m sitting in agony, picking around here and there. Mid-way through the lunch, I turned to Pat and said, “Dude, we are so going to McDonald’s after this.”

They have good facilities and free Wi-Fi.

Need a toilet or an Internet break? McDonald’s around the world are known for providing decent facilities and sometimes free Wi-Fi. For being such a crappy country when it comes to being connected, all the McCafes in Australia have free wireless Internet. You can scoff all you want, but I’ll be at McCafe having a coffee, raisin toast and surfing the Web for free while you’re forking out $10 an hour somewhere else (without the coffee and toast).

Eating at McDonald’s is a cultural experience in itself.

McDonald’s is one company that has taken over the world (sort of like Nescafe), but in order to do so, it has had to adapt to the local culture. I love finding the unique aspects of McDonald’s restaurants in whatever country I’m in.

For example, did you know you can buy beer with your Big Mac in Italy? Did you know about the vegetarian menu in India? How about the way the Japanese joints make you separate your trash into combustible and non-combustible items?

I loved the way my Ukrainian students said that McDonald’s was complete crap yet many of them ate there at least once a week. How about the business guys in suits that were there having meetings?

It’s a look at one product that has been shaped by the culture in which it is being presented. I think that, in itself, warrants a stop on your travels.

That, and their amazing hangover curative powers, of course.


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28 Responses to Day 9: McDonald’s to the Rescue

  1. Kate January 10, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    *laughs* My sister and I went to MacDonalds in Hiroshima. We’d stumbled out of the Peace Museum, absolutely emotionally drained and exhausted, saw the MacDonalds, looked at each other, went: ‘are we going to break our vow of Japanese only food and dine at the emblem of imperialistic cultural hegemony?’ HELL YES.

    Comfort food om nom nom.

    • Brooke January 10, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      Haha, thanks for sharing, Kate! 😀

  2. DanielW January 10, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    So the big question… Down under in the land of Oz do you get the option of silly size “American” Mcdonalds? You know what I mean; quadruple quarter pounder, a gallon of coke and huge bucket of chips? Or is it more like the Euroland where “large” means you get 10 chips in a box and a tiny lil ickle burger?

    I share your concerns about mushrooms – I had a rogue one on my Pizza Hut pizza this week and I trashed the whole slice. Contaminated with mushroom, it had no chance.

    • Brooke January 10, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      Always happy to find another mushroom hater 😉 And to answer your question, no, Australia is more like Europe when it comes to sizing of drinks and fries… but you can get giant angus beef burgers.

  3. ayngelina January 10, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    I generally hate McDonalds and never go there, unless I’m on the road. If I’m having a really terrible day the familiarity of chicken nuggets really do make everything better.

    • Brooke January 10, 2011 at 10:52 am #

      I know – amazing curative powers! I could be feeling down but come out 100% from McD’s.

  4. Christine January 10, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    I use McDonald’s for the clean bathrooms (and free, especially in Europe when you sometimes have to pay) and free Wifi. The only thing I like in McDonald’s are the breakfast burritos, hash brown and orange juice–BEST hangover cure–although I limit myself to once a year!

    • Brooke January 10, 2011 at 10:50 am #

      Wow, once a year is impressive. I guess if I only liked the breakfast burrito, it wouldn’t be so hard 😉 Unfortunately, I’m a sucker for a cheeseburger & fries. *sigh*

      • Christine January 10, 2011 at 10:57 am #

        I’m a California girl–the only fast-food burger and fries I eat are at In & Out Burger! Refuse to try it elsewhere 🙂

  5. Ryan Lile January 10, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Great post, Brooke. I am really sick of sanctimonious travelers who claim never to eat at McD’s. Sometimes it’s cheap, easy and the flavor of home that makes the difference between travel burnout and pressing ahead.

    My Facebook picture is actually me at McDonald’s in Beijing after a week in North Korea (not a hint of western food in sight there). I would have seriously maimed someone for those hotcakes.

    • Brooke January 10, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      Hey, thanks for stopping by! That’s exactly what I’m talking about 🙂

  6. Poi January 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    We ate so much MacDonalds when we were in China – we tried to experiment with food, failed and ended up in mac do’s afterwards!

    Proud to say I’ve not had it since though! Although I do kinda fancy a Big mac now…

  7. Paul January 11, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    YES, I LOVE McDonald’s on the road. I’m glad someone shares my sentiments.

    There’s nothing better than seeing that familiar golden arch in an unfamiliar place.

    KFC comes in a close second.

    • Brooke January 11, 2011 at 6:51 am #

      Yes, it is terribly comforting on the road! Glad you share my perspective 🙂

  8. Sheryll January 11, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    I know exactly how you feel. Nothing is more comforting when you’re in a foreign country than McDonalds! McGriddles are my ultimate breakfast hangover cure. LOL!

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, Sheryll. It’s good to know I’m not alone 🙂

  9. Alouise January 11, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    I’m not much for McD’s….their burgers always make me feel ill. But I think I would stop by for free wi-fi and maybe a coffee or a muffin. And I totally know where you’re coming from with olives, I hate them, way too salty for me, but I love olive oil.

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      I’ve tried and tried to like olives. I even ate an olive pasta when I studied in Italy (forced it down) but I ended up getting sick that evening — killing all chance for enjoyment. *sigh*

  10. James Clark January 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    McDonald’s came to my rescue when I was in New York in 00/01. I spent 3 months in the city on an extreme backpackers budget. The time I was there McDonald’s had this special offer of $1 chicken burgers. I ate a few of them every day, as well as cheese slice pizzas and bags of bagels. Great days they were, but I think the experience put me off maccas forever, as I haven’t eaten it since.

    As for the Spanish food, my experience has shown that tastes (and taste buds) change. In my early 20’s I couldn’t eat chilis, anchovies, olives, sun-dried anythings and cheeses not made by Kraft. Now, I love them all.

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      I keep trying to like them… still trying… hopefully one day!

      I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like McDs anymore if I ate it that much either!

  11. Rebecca January 12, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Everyone has a McDonalds story from the road. For some reason, everyone I know has ended up at the one in the Florence train station at one point or another (and I stand by the fact that that particular branch serves the BEST Macca’s shakes in the world!)

    Even between Aus and NZ, the menu changes! I got addicted to the chicken strips in Aus that were called one thing there and when I went back to NZ and tried to order them, without looking at the menu, they had no idea what I was talking about. It wasn’t until I looked at the menu that I realized they had a different name in NZ. SO RANDOM!

    And I was on a tour of Poland and Czech Rep like 10 years and and we stopped at one in the Polish countryside and while none of us spoke Polish, half the group tried to order in English. Yeah, that didn’t work. Thankgod for “sign” language! Just cause the restaurant is American, doesn’t mean the workers speak english!

  12. Megan January 18, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Going to a movie and getting McDonalds is the perfect cure for homesickness and travel fatigue during long trips. I don’t hide the fact that I make a point of going to McDonalds in each country just to see what it’s like. I would have traveled for days in Ethiopia to get McDonalds—there’s only so much injera a girl can take! Luckily I found a restaurant run by the US embassy’s former cook. Salads and burritos never tasted so good!!!

  13. Laryssa January 20, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    haha! I totally indulged in McD’s and Burger King’s ice cream cones while in Australia. At only 50 cents a pop, why not?

    The Chinese-food-share…was that yum-cha, by chance?

    • Brooke January 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

      No, it wasn’t. I think it was a Malaysian Chinese meal, but it doesn’t matter… I love the 50 cent cones!


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