While watching some British show the other week, I came across the UK’s new (?) Mc Donald’s advert. The concept is that no matter who you are, we all have Mc Donald’s.
It’s interesting because Mc Donald’s is considered a comfort when abroad – whether you are in Beijing or Rome, you can find something that will taste and look familiar. And yet, Mc Donald’s culture is so different in different countries.
In the UK I’d say that Mc Donald’s is considered very much inferior to Burger King. In fact, I think that I’ve not eaten a British Mc Donald’s since I was in my early teens. But Burger King’s chips and burgers are pretty awesome. They don’t have Burger Kings in Japan (well, they didn’t when I lived there) and I remember being in Singapore airport once and turning the corner to find one. I think my excitement at having found a Burger King after such a long time shocked the people around me…
The Mc Donald’s in Japan actually was pretty yummy. I’d eat their shaka shaka chicken from time to time as a snack. And when they did their American range of burgers, I was first in line (like with the Miami burger above).
The thing with Mc Donald’s in Japan is that it’s a place to be. It’s a place to kill time, buy a coffee and just hang out. Especially in the cities, you’ll find rows of Japanese teenagers chilling there, doing their makeup, studying and just using it as an extension of their bedroom. They also have lots of solo seats so you don’t have to feel pressured to be sociable there – just be as if you are on your own in your room. When I was a student in Japan I used the local Denny’s as a place to study simply because I work better when I’m not in my room and I could soak up their free heating/air con at no more than the price of an all you can drink drinks bar offer.
When I was in Paris at Christmas I was very excited to try their Mc Donald’s as well. I’d mentioned to some French friends that Burger King is better than Mc Donald’s and they all pulled faces at me and said that Ronald is king in France. There weren’t as many Maccy D’s in Paris as in, say, London, so I did go out of my way a little to find one. And boy, was I glad I did. That burger was one of the best I’ve tasted. It was frickin’ awesome.
Then cut to Germany. When I got here, I’d not eaten at a Mc Donald’s in a while, but late one night on the way home from some 90′s party, I was hungry and the only place open was the Mc Donald’s on Hauptwache. I ordered what looked like a nice burger but it was covered in nasty tasting pink sauce. As I took my second bite, a mouse ran over my foot. That burger headed straight for the bin and I have never been there since.
That same “restaurant” has many more undesirable customers than the Mc Donald’s in Japan. If I walk by the front of that place, there are always small groups of young men who quite often feel the need to comment on my looks (or apparent lack thereof) and when you go inside it’s little different. It may be just that one restaurant and not a thing with the whole of Germany but I get the feeling it’s not a place you want to be seen in around here. Certainly not the place to be chilling out at for hours on end.
How are Mc Donald’s where you live/are from? What kind of people go there, and what kind of culture does it have? I’m interested to share stories!