Karl has a travel quirk that most people don’t understand. He likes to eat a McDonald’s Big Mac in every new country he visits. After a long debate about this, I bent to his will and so to try and alleviate my slight corporation guilt, I try to eat something from the menu that we don’t have at home, like the samurai burger in Thailand.
We have eaten burgers across the world ranging from utterly delicious (in India) to truly terrible (the burgers in Indonesia were little better than chewing polystyrene). I really couldn’t work out if I enjoyed my chicken shakers in Japan, but there was a particularly saucy little number in Copenhagen that left me in an ecstatic BBQ mess.
Only six countries have thwarted Karl in his beefy conquest so far:
Big Macs are not served in India, in fact there are no beef burgers whatsoever on the menu in this mostly Hindu country. Instead they serve the Maharaja Mac.
This is built like a Big Mac (two patties, the extra bun in the middle) but consists of two chicken burgers and a mild curry sauce. We enjoyed this burger so much, we went back two weeks later for another one.
When we visited Vietnam in 2009, McDonald’s was still forbidden fruit. With many investment restrictions stopping some of our best known big western businesses setting up shop, McDonald’s were kept at the gates. Weirdly there was a KFC in Hanoi and Karl accepted this a substitute. The restrictions were loosened in 2014 and the countries first McDonald’s served 400,000 customers in the first month. The Vietnamese obviously love it as much as Karl does.
As an unrecognised Soviet country, there is little to no western investment in this tiny place. We went out for a pizza but I know Karl must have had a burger-y niggle in the back of his mind.
McDonald’s served its last meal in Iceland back in 2009. The countries economic problems meant that the franchise became too expensive to run and so they closed their three branches and left Reykjavik’s residents to enjoy homegrown fast food joint Aktu Taktu. We did the same when we visited in 2012.
On our travels through South-East Asia in 2009, I got to eat delicious, cheap food through Laos without the glare of the Golden Arches.
I’d like to say that we ate really healthily when McDonald’s was nowhere in sight, but I ate a lot of super noodles for breakfast in Cambodia. It’s traditional, but not much healthier than a burger really.
This habit can be a little bad for our waistlines. When we are dashing through countries Karl needs his fix once every few days (where available). I used to roll my eyes when we entered a McDonald’s abroad, wondering if the other people in there thought we are too scared, or too fussy to try the local food. But I have since come to realise that they are in there too and a sneaky Happy Meal doesn’t hurt once in a while.
And for a bonus point.
We’re in Aqaba, Jordan, it’s 46 degrees centigrade, it’s Ramadan and everywhere is shut. In the distance we spy the golden M. It is open, but we can’t have any food, or sit in the air conditioning, or on the veranda. We got the biggest iciest drinks we could walked away with our very hot tails between our legs.