By Julien Heidt
Vincent: And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
Vincent: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the f%$k a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: Then what do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac.
Jules: Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King.
Somewhere, buried deep under a sea of urine-scented plastic balls in the confines of a McDonald’s PlayPlace, Ronald McDonald is rolling over in his grave. Since the 1950s, the golden arches have been an intrinsic aspect of the American identity (whether we like it or not), reflecting our fast-paced culture and craving for instant gratification. However, like most innovations of our age of westernization, fast food has broadened its greasy grasp to even the furthest stretches of the globe. This expansion, as natural of a progression as it seems, has produced some rather surprising results. To accommodate local tastebuds, adaptations to the good old McDonald’s menu we know so well were made all over the world.
Yes, Big Macs and Quesaritos are still to be found, but they do not take center stage. In China you can indulge in a flying fish roe salmon cream cheese pizza, satisfy your sweet tooth with a dried pork and seaweed donut, or start the morning right with a “sausage and egg twisty pasta breakfast” (don’t ask). In the Philippines, every local McDonald’s serves spaghetti and fried chicken, together, naturally. A hop and a skip away, in Japan, they even have a Kuro Pearl burger, which contains black cheese dyed with bamboo charcoal, a black bun, and squid ink in the onion-garlic sauce. Additionally, customers willing to dish out $16.00 can indulge in a burger topped with goose liver and truffles. The list goes on and on, getting stranger and stranger.
Although different countries seem to stray from what we expect at a typical McDonald’s, I concede that it could actually be beneficial to Americans if we took up some of these “foreign” practices. Despite all the oddity, there is a larger variety of healthy selections offered on these international menus. In the U.K, organic milk, free side salads, Pumpkin-Spice lattés with no caramel coloring IV (which is potentially carcinogenic), and larger donuts with less sugar are widely available. Germany offers veggie burgers; Italy, watermelon on a stick. With an increasingly health conscious society, fast food restaurants here in America are shifting towards serving foods lower in sugar, salt, and calories. While progress is being made, there is still more to be done. Offering a wider range of “healthy” options as well as trying to keep portions smaller and avoiding products containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are important steps in this process. Obviously with such a huge corporation that must standardize meals and keep prices low, it is unrealistic that all menu items will be of the utmost quality, but the results in other countries show that a higher standard is achievable. Although I don’t anticipate the addition of caviar to the local McDonald’s menu, if corporations here at home can take a hint from the rest of the world and make some changes, maybe Ronald McDonald will be able to rest in peace.