Friday, August 9, 2013

Experiencing local cuisine at McDonald's

You can still find a Big Mac and a box of nuggets here, but they are overshadowed on the menu boards by the bigger stars of the French universe: the McDoo, a warm ham and cheese take on the croque-monsieur, leafy salads that bounce like a Kardashian’s backside, and a line of burgers featuring artisanal French cheeses like ComtĂ© and Camembert that McDonald’s rolled out earlier this year. ...

I have come for the McCamembert, but I’m told the burger has sold out all across France, so I settle for a McRaclette, named for the famous cow’s milk cheese from the Alpine highlands. ... Afterward, I decamp to the McCafĂ© for a cappuccino and a plate of green tea macaroons. ...

McGowan talks reverently about Tokyo’s Tuna McMuffin, with a note of disappointment about the thin pumpkin soup served in Hong Kong, and in general astonishment of the spicy stir-fries—a touch of fish sauce, shallots, and fresh mint—served at McDonald’s Thailand (his favorite McDonald’s country in the world).

Comb through McDonald’s menus and you begin to see a more adventurous way to eat in what many consider to be the least adventurous eating establishment on the planet.

For breakfast, why not a bowl of chicken congee with fried garlic and chilies by the beach in Bali? Or Gallo pinto—spice-charged rice and beans—on the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica?

Big Mac no longer holding your interest? Order the Bulgogi Burger in Seoul, a tray of Currywurst in Berlin, or a grilled chicken pita in the Middle East.

Don’t want fries with that? You can try caldo verde in Portugal, gallo pinto in Costa Rica, yucca sticks in Venezuela, cheese empanadas in Chile, or a block of DOP Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy. Late-night munchies? A heaping poutine in Canada will soak up a bit of that booze.

This isn’t just a matter of swapping ranch for chimichurri or subbing ground chicken for ground beef. These new additions represent a paradigm shift in the McDonald’s way: in the sourcing of ingredients, the assembly line preparation, and the local perception of America’s most famous export. Consider Israel, where McDonald’s offers 100 percent kosher restaurants, and the beef is leaner and grilled over charcoal fires—more in keeping with the local desire for a healthier meal. Or India, where beef and pork have never made the menu, McDonald’s is about to go one step further this year and open its first ever vegetarian restaurant. And in Italy, where the opposition to McDonald’s was once so fierce that it sparked the global Slow Food movement, the fast-food titan has joined forces with supermarket superpower Barilla to offer up a line of pasta dishes. The first creation on tap? Penne with tuna, tomatoes, olives, and capers.
--Matt Goulding, Slate, on McDonald's adapting instead of dying