Travel—especially abroad—can change your outlook and stretch your palette to the brink. For the chronically nomadic, it’s the shitty comforts of home that help keep them upright. Last year (and part of this year), I spent months loitering in foreign countries. My nostalgic guilty pleasure of choice just so happened to be McDonald’s.
Along with an incredibly diligent friend hell-bent on trying whatever the fast food chain had to offer in every country he set foot in, I began racking up online check-ins, shitty Instagram posts, and calories as I strove to eat my way around the world. Though McDonald’s in the United States is typically reserved for when I’m under the influence or under the weather, I voraciously chowed down anywhere I saw a crappy translation of their “I’m lovin’ it” slogan.
Some McDonald’s had all the awful comforts of home while others took that shit to the next level. These are the best of perhaps the worst food I voluntarily ingested abroad, minus the drunk binges at 7-11 and Lawson.
Hidden beneath fresh tomatoes and greens grown in the Italian countryside is a legitimate piece of lobster. It’s what you might only glimpse at a seaside McDonald’s with a crustacean problem if you were back in the States.
There’s a reason Italy’s McLobster Roll costs a full 13 euros. It’s beyond me why McDonald’s didn’t dub it the McAragosta to add a bit of Italian into the mix—especially since the chain was marking the return of the World’s Fair to Italy with nationalistic burgers that included large chunks of Parmesan cheese set atop actual goddamn meat. Va fangul!
If there are suspiciously packed sauces in containers they don’t typically appear in, chances are that I will spill them. You should’ve seen me manhandling bags of milk in Argentina. Making cereal was a very confusing process until I started putting that shit in a jar. These mini-pancakes from McDonald’s Japan (that were served all day, I might add) were just as perplexing.
That humble dipping sauce container included white chocolate icing and milk chocolate icing, which were supposed to be squeezed together to elegantly drizzle the sweet stuff onto the pancakes. Every ad for the pancakes I saw on the train made them look so kawaii. And yet in my first attempt, I spilled 70 percent of the sauces into my palm, then lathered the pancakes with them like I was washing the hood of a sports car. It was all pretty American. Even if I was 7,000 miles from home.