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Fast Food

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McDonald’s Around the World: France Edition

McDonald's ParisDespite having maybe the best food of anywhere I’ve visited so far, McDonald’s France has a surprisingly boring menu.  It’s pretty much just the classics (and yes, the Quarter Pounder really is called the Royale with Cheese, so it’s got that going for it at least).

They do, however, serve something called Le P’tit Hot Dog, which is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a standard hot dog — maybe slightly smokier than usual — that’s topped with ketchup, mustard, and crispy fried onions.  It’s extremely average.

Hot dog from McDonald's Paris

I ordered a side of “Deluxe Potatoes,” which are just potato wedges.  Like the hot dog, they’re pretty standard.  If you’ve ever had wedges from the supermarket or from a cafeteria, then you know exactly what to expect.

Deluxe Potatoes from McDonald's Paris

And that’s about it.  Even the dessert menu was just the usual stuff.

Also: there’s something vaguely off-putting about being told “bon appetit!” when being handed a tray of McDonald’s food.

McDonald’s Around the World: Sweden Edition

McDonald's in Stockholm, SwedenThey have something called the McBean on the menu in McDonald’s in Sweden, and I think it’s the first veggie burger I’ve seen at a McDonald’s so far.

McBean from McDonald's in Stockholm, Sweden

It’s not bad!  It’s topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, and the patty is nice and crispy on the outside.  It’s also surprisingly creamy on the inside, which is a bit bizarre at first — but it grows on you.  The burger itself almost has the consistency of a bean dip; it’s mostly a creamy bean paste, with a few whole beans interspersed throughout.  This seems like it should be off-putting, but the creamy/crispy contrast actually worked reasonably well.

Chili Cheese Tops from McDonald's in Stockholm, Sweden

I also got the Chili Cheese Tops, which were triangular fried nuggets stuffed with cheese and jalapeno peppers.  The cheese was a little bit gluey, but these otherwise weren’t bad.  They were slightly spicy, creamy, and crispy.  I mean, it’s basically fried cheese, and it’s hard to go wrong with that.

McDonald’s Around the World: Germany Edition

McDonald's in Berlin, GermanySo the McRib is just on the regular menu at McDonald’s in Germany, and it has been for a while.  Here we are in North America waiting for it to come back once every few years like chumps, and the Germans can just mosey into a McDonald’s and order it whenever they want.  Like kings.

Obviously that’s what I got.

McRib!

Let’s face it though: the McRib isn’t as good as you remember.  At least, that was my experience the last couple of times that they brought it back, and that was definitely my experience here.  Aside from the fact that the meat was rubbery and dry, I’m pretty positive that they’re not using the same BBQ sauce they use back home — and since that sweet, smoky sauce is pretty much the only thing making a McRib edible, that’s kind of a problem (the sauce here has a much more subtle flavour).

McDonald's in Berlin, Germany

I also got something called Frühlingsrollen, which are basically bite-sized versions of the cheap frozen spring rolls you can get in the freezer section of your local supermarket.  These probably would have been okay if they were fresh; alas, they were lukewarm and chewy.  Still, they were decent enough when dipped in the provided sweet chili sauce.

Dessert

For dessert I got the Caramel Nuggets, which kind of tasted like fried balls of raw pancake batter injected with caramel.  I don’t know if they were supposed to be like that or if they were just undercooked, but either way they weren’t bad.  They were obviously fresh from the fryer — it’s hard to go wrong with anything that’s sweet and freshly fried.  Plus they come with a tasty berry dipping sauce, so there’s that.

McDonald’s Around the World: Austria Edition

McDonald's AustriaI had some flat-out awful meals at McDonald’s in Spain and Italy — meals that were so bad, they made me look at my life and think “am I doing this right?”  Well, here comes the land of Arnold Schwarzenegger to hold out a hand and let me know I’m doing just fine.  Because McDonald’s in Austria knows how to do it.

I had a few things: a McCountry sandwich, waffle fries, and a beer.

McDonald's Austria

Yeah, that’s right, McDonald’s serves beer here.

The McCountry sandwich was kind of like a McRib, only with red onions instead of regular onions, and curry sauce and mustard instead of BBQ sauce.  So… not at all like a McRib, actually.  But it’s made out of pork!

This was surprisingly decent.  The pork patty was dried out and nothing particularly special, but the combination of the sweet curry sauce and the mustard was satisfying.  I’m not a fan of raw onions, but even those were fine — the sauces were strong enough that they really only added crunch.

McCountry sandwich

The waffle fries were pretty good as well.  They were nice and crispy, and whatever they seasoned them with worked fairly well.  I ordered the “Hot Devil” dipping sauce to go with these, and oh man — that sauce is not kidding around.  There’s no way in hell a fast food joint back home would serve something even close to that spicy.  Legit hot.

The beer (!) was good too.  It was a pretty run-of-the-mill lager, but still… beer at McDonald’s!

Fried!

The meal was such a pleasant surprise, I figured I may as well get a dessert.  I got the raspberry cream cheese pie, and first of all, it was fried, so it’s automatically amazing.  The day McDonald’s at home started baking instead of frying their pies was the day that joy died.  Fried is so much better, it’s ridiculous.  I mean, look at that crispy, crackly exterior!

Pie!

The inside was pretty good, too — satisfyingly tart and not too sweet.  A solid ending to a surprisingly decent meal.

 

McDonald’s Around the World: Italy Edition

McDonald'sThere isn’t anything too interesting/unique at McDonald’s in Italy, though they do have something called “Le Ricche” fries, which is basically just a plate of fries with cheese sauce on them.  You can choose between regular cheddar, and hot cheese.  I went with the latter, though I have to admit that there’s something vaguely unappetizing about the phrase “hot cheese.”

Nope

Yeah, it turns out the whole thing was vaguely unappetizing.  Actually, no: not vaguely.

I should note that I’m not a snob about cheese sauce — I actually really like the neon orange sauce they serve at the movies.  But this stuff?  It was vile.  It didn’t help that it was cold and congealed; it was unpleasantly thick and gluey, with a salty, acrid flavour that I guess was supposed to be spiciness?  It tasted like they melted down a mostly empty bottle of cayenne pepper and then poured the plasticky goo over stale fries.  It was horrible.

Double nope

Since there wasn’t anything else particularly interesting on the menu, I went with the one of their burgers — the 1955 burger, which was clearly the better of the two in that it wasn’t completely awful.  It had bacon and caramelized onion and a bunch of other stuff, and it wasn’t too bad, but there was so much ketchup that I couldn’t taste anything else.

I’m not gonna lie: between Spain and this, my enthusiasm to try McDonald’s at every country I visit has been significantly dampened.  Get it together, McDonald’s, jeez.

McDonald’s Around the World: Spain Edition

McDonald's SpainWho can say no to ham croquettes at McDonald’s?  Or chicken wings?  Well, most people, probably — not this guy.

I’m not very smart, you see.  As most people would reasonably imagine, neither of these things were very good.

Um...

The croquettes were probably the better of the two.   They were sort of okay, though the exterior wasn’t particularly crispy, and the interior was unpleasantly gummy, without much flavour other than a generic saltiness.

Or at least I thought it was salty, until I tasted the wings and learned the true definition of that word.

So much salt

I honestly think those wings might have been the saltiest thing I’ve ever eaten. They were fine otherwise — nice and crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. But holy jeez, I’m surprised I didn’t have a stroke right there on the spot. They were so salty they actually kind of burned my tongue.

Nope

I was craving something sweet after that salt overload, so I got the Nocilla McFlurry (Nocilla is basically a Spanish version of Nutella).  I had high hopes for this one; if you put enough Nutella on literally anything, it’ll eventually become delicious.  But that’s the problem — there wasn’t enough of it, and the little pieces of brownie they mixed in were overly chewy and completely tasteless.

The ice cream itself wasn’t even particularly creamy, so all in all: boo-urns, McDonald’s Spain.  Boo-urns.

McDonald’s Around the World: Portugal Edition

McDonald'sMaybe it’s because I’ve been going to the place since I was a kid, and thus have fuzzy childhood memories, but I like McDonald’s.  I don’t eat there a whole lot, but every time they add something new to the menu, I feel compelled to check it out.

Here in Portugal they have the usual assortment of burgers, chicken sandwiches, and salads — the most interesting thing is their take on the bifana, called McBifana (natch).

McBifana

It’s alright, I guess.  They replace the sliced pork of the original with two pork burger patties; most of the flavour comes from the surprisingly garlicky sauce that they slather all over it.

There’s definitely nothing wrong with it, though at around four Euros it’s almost double what an actual bifana costs.  Considering that the real deal is more substantial, tastier, and cheaper, it’s hard to justify ordering this thing.

A couple more thoughts after the jump.