Eating, while seemingly a simple task, can be pretty confusing when you’re hundreds of miles away from home. This article hopes to illustrate the reasons in which deciding what you’re going to eat for lunch can offer you an amazing insight into a country’s history, diversity and values. And our case study is going to use the unlikely example of McDonalds.
In the movie Pulp Fiction, Vincent memorably describes to Jules his experiences from travelling in Europe. Vincent is fascinated that everything is pretty much the same as home, but just a little bit different. In Paris as he says, due to the metric system a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is instead called a Royale with Cheese.
Fast food thanks to McDonalds is a global phenomenon and no matter your opinions on the company – it makes for an easy avenue to illustrate and access the cultural differences of the world.
McDonalds are a clever global bunch, and while the big golden arches remain consistent across the world – their menu varies to adapt to local customs and tastes. A walk into McDonalds in Japan could find you with a Rice Burger where sesame buns are replaced with formed patties of gluttonous rice. In India you can find beefless menus and a McAloo Tikki. In Germany and France you can order beer along with your McDonalds. As Vincent Vega describes – it’s all the same but slightly different.
Besides the menu variation there are other factors such as pricing. So interesting is this case study that The Economist produces a Big Mac index in a fascinating correlation between the price of a Big Mac and the state of the global economy. Then there are the cases of where McDonalds tried and failed – such as Bolivia. Despite money and global success McDonalds simply didn’t work with the Bolivian way of life, signifying the importance of recognising unique cultural differences.
So the point in its purest and simplest form – is that to appreciate food on your travel is to take those extra couple of minutes before you decide what to eat to notice why you have those choices. One does not fully appreciate the diversity of culture, until they recognise how much culture plays a part in their food choices.
And that is the essence of this blog – an exploration of the world through discovering and analysing local cuisine. You can follow my adventures via this blog and share my experiences of confusion, culture shock and extreme tastiness!