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Eating McDonald’s in Warsaw and London

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved McDonald’s. I distinctly remember collecting the large stadium cups bearing the Dream Team in 1992–six-year old me must have been a joy to parent during that pursuit–but I’m pretty sure I was hooked even before that.

I’ve never really understood why McDonald’s gets such a bad rap from the “America needs to be less obese” people (who are right in their campaign even as they are wrong in scapegoating McDonald’s); it’s not as if McDonald’s food is any worse for you than its direct fast food competitors KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell, sit-down restaurants like Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s, or anything that’s ever been on Man vs Food or Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Even at Subway, a footlong meatball sub–which in my opinion is the only sandwich on the menu worth ordering–has 960 calories, 420 more than a Big Mac. For its contribution to our obesity epidemic, McDonald’s receives a disproportionate share of the blame.

The standardization that McDonald’s has achieved on a global scale is one of the most impressive feats of the human race. Almost everywhere in the world, a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke will be exactly what you are expecting out of a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke. I have no idea how they have accomplished this but it’s extremely comforting to know that wherever I am, I can order something and know exactly what I’m getting.

When I travel, I always make sure to try McDonald’s menu items that are not available in America.

In Warsaw, I ordered the EuroBurger, an exquisite double cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles on bread that has the form, but not taste, of a pretzel bun:

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This McDonald’s also had a separate section for McCafe, which served coffee and baked goods that I didn’t order but looked outstanding:

In London, I ordered the Chicken Legend, a spicy crispy chicken sandwich topped with your choice of tomato salsa or mayo:

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It was pretty good but I was immediately struck with buyer’s remorse when I saw the Cheese & Bacon Striker that the Italian man next to me was eating. The kicker was the cheese sauce that looked like it gave an entirely new dimension to the burger. Oddly for McDonald’s, it looked even better out of the wrapper than in the promotional picture:

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I ended the meal with a Starburst Mixed Berry Flavour Milkshake, a sublime combination of the pink and red Starbursts. I’m going to be chasing that food dragon for a long time. Pretty please bring it to America?

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