Columns, Opinion

HAGEN: I say Ronald, you say Ronaldo

Warning: The following graphic description of gooey goodness is classified as food pornography and may not be suitable for children and the lactose intolerant.

The luscious, creamy melted Gruyere cheese is spilling out, trickling sensually in rich buttery drops onto your naked hand. The smell of succulent, warm, exquisite ham fills your nostrils, tantalizing all of your senses. The fresh, toasted bread is perfectly crisp to the touch and you suspect will feel even better on your eager tongue. Your taste buds are tingling with anticipation as you raise this sumptuous sandwich to your quivering lips. “Do it! Bite it! Masticate!” your brain is screaming at you with irrepressible excitement. You finally put your mouth around this savory piece of carnal, culinary pleasure and BAM! waves of flavorful bliss penetrate through every inch of your trembling body and you squeeze your eyes shut from the unbearable ecstasy. When you are finally able to slowly lift your wavering eyelids you see bright, yellow golden arches above you. “Heaven?” you immediately reason. Nope, not unless God is a redheaded clown in a yellow jumpsuit. You, my friend, are in a McDonald’s.

The Croque McDo, sexily described above, is just one of the many cultural-based gourmet offerings the fast-food company serves in its overseas restaurants. This particular unique sandwich can be found in France, where it is a take-off of a nationally treasured delight known as a “Croque-Monsieur.” The revelation that such a delicious greasy option exists is of special interest and incredible relief to me. I plan on traveling to the land of ­­&-&- as Homer Simpson refers to it &-&- “brie-eating surrender monkeys,” this summer, and I was nervous about my chow options. France, particularly Paris, is well-known to lack any form of respectable cuisine or gastronomical tradition and I am sure it is near-impossible to find a decent meal. At least I know I have this superior American dining option to turn to. I just hope they have Croissan’Wiches there, because I’m really going to miss a good croissant.

McDonald’s has managed to expand to an impressive 119 countries, often serving unique regional items based on local cuisine. This means that not only will I be saved by the ever-present availability of fatty fare, but so will thousands of my fellow Boston University classmates who have chosen to study abroad. In order to better acquaint my jet-setting comrades to the many delicious options, which lie before them, I have prepared a run-down of special McDonald’s offerings in some of BU’s most popular study-abroad locales.

If you are headed off to Dublin or jolly ol’ London-town, you can expect some very sweet snacks. There, the McFlurry toppings differ from their American counterparts and include Smarties, that chalky candy you always tried to trade first from your pillowcase of Halloween goodies and Dairy Milk, a British chocolate bar. But, perhaps you will find more luck with pies, where your options will include an apple sundae, a custard and a mincemeat. Whether tasty or not, at least you will finally learn what mincemeat actually consists of. Ireland may not win at much &- or anything &- but they can claim one small victory: Shamrock shakes are served all year round. Score.

If you find yourself in Geneva with a hankering for seafood, grab a side order of fried shrimp. They also offer an abundance of fine sauces for dipping including cocktail, curry and the special “deluxe creamy sauce.” Don’t bother asking any of the Swiss employees which one is best, however they are probably just neutral on the matter. If you are right across the border in Germany, than you are in for a foamy treat. You can wash down your “Chicken Mythic,” a breaded patty smothered in tangy sauce, with a pint of fine beer because &- surprise! &- many of the German restaurants have liquor licenses.

One thing everyone in the Middle East can agree upon is the tastiness of the McShawarma! If you are studying in either Turkey or Israel make sure to pick up one of these palate-pleasing pitas. McDonald’s is ever the leader in “diabetes diplomacy.”
Expectedly, Japan has the strangest menu items available. Patrons can chose from a variety of sandwiches such as the McPork, the Teriyaki McBurger or the Mega-Mac, which consists of three buns, four patties and is the size of a small Japanese grandmother. Add a side of a bacon-potato pie or seaweed-flavored French fries and you are good to go.

Heading further down south in the Pacific you will find a very different type of menu in Australia. Ozzie-land is not only geographically upside down, but its McDonald’s are pretty topsy-turvy as well. There you can chose from a huge selection of deli and salad items with 10 grams of fat or less. Why should this leader in lard try and be healthy? McDonald’s without the fat is like this past season’s BU hockey team: useless. Flush those wholesome eats counter-clockwise down the toilet!

Things get a little more piquante in Latin America, where Peruvian restaurants offer an incredibly spicy pepper dipping sauce known as aji. Guatemala serves a traditional breakfast, which includes eggs, black beans, fried plantains and corn tortillas, while in Mexico you can comer the McBurrito. I love a meal that manages to be both culturally and gastro-intestinally offensive!

Remember, you are experiencing life in a foreign country, which is probably being totally overrun by American influences and completely accepting of that fact. Therefore, isn’t American culture the one true world culture and the only culture you ever need to experience? As they say “When in Rome,” eat at the Mickey-D’s near the Pantheon, it’s the best!

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