Almost every country we visit has a McDonald’s. And in every country we run towards it, as it beacons to us, weary travelers, with its golden arches and a free toilet. Our routine is almost always the same. We use the bathroom, I sneak in a picture of the menu above the counter, and we head out, usually to grab a bite to eat at some local joint.
I love taking pictures of the menu, even though it usually comes out blurry, too overexposed, or too underexposed as a backlit menu is tricky to capture and is often obscured by workers waving their hands to indicate that photography is forbidden. In every country, the menu tries its hardest to appeal to the local population, with curious additions to the standard American fare of a Big Mac and fries. We saw falafel in Israel, Veg Maharaja burger in India, lamb burger in England, alfajor cookies in Argentina, spicy McWings in Thailand, Fillet-o-Ebi in China and so on. It’s always a little bizarre to me that anyone would choose to eat McDonald’s version of local cuisine rather than the local cuisine itself, especially when McDonald’s is the more expensive option. I understand the appeal of the best-known burger restaurant in the world serving exotic burgers, but why go there to buy a chicken cutlet and rice? (I am looking at you, China)
A few McDonald’s may have toilets for customers only, so Victor would begrudgingly buy a small coffee and we would spend a few extra minutes observing the locals enjoying McFries. A few minutes later we would be crossing the street, in search of local delicacies in a family owned eatery, where ordering is only possible by pointing and Google translate. It has absolutely never occurred to us to eat in McDonald’s with a few notable exceptions, such as India and Guatemala.