The Travel Almanac

Egyptian McDonalds amongst the ruins
Egyptian McDonalds amongst the ruins

McDonalds around the world

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They are everywhere!

Walking through some old city ruins in a town just outside of Cairo, Egypt, something catches my eye between the deteriorating stone pillars – the golden arches. Of all the desolate places in the world, there it was! In today’s world it is such a well known brand that even countries that don’t have a McDonalds restuarant have more than likely have heard of it, or will be getting one in the neighbourhood very soon. To some it is an unfortunate thing. Some places refuse to let McDonalds into their town, starting up petitions to stop the process, or one might think maybe just delaying the inevitable.

Of all the countries I have visited, not only the wealthy but poor too, the greater majority have at least one McDonalds. Regardless of if there are other multinational takeaway chain stores, there appears to commonly be the golden arches lurking somewhere.

Mexican McDonalds fare
Mexican McDonalds fare

Familiar Foods

To its credit though, McDonalds does offer familiar foods in unfamiliar surroundings. This is one of its marketing strategies. Not for the locals but for travelers, who are tired of eating the local food and need some familiar foods from home for comfort eating. Who better to offer this than a restaurant that you have at home? Most local restaurants trying to offer international cuisine do not do the perfect job. There is usually a degree of difference to what one is familiar with. For some it is not quite the same as home. But where ever you are in the world, McDonalds is always the same. With such quality control standards, it always looks and tastes the same. This can be positive or negative, depending on which way you look at it. I would say “boring” some would say “something I can trust”.

Country Specialties

Actually McDonalds is NOT always the same, in fact it is slightly different in every country. McDonalds caters for all different tastes, traditions and religions around the world. The majority of the menu is generally the same as the original USA McDonalds, but with each country having its own few additional menu items.

Some menu items have come about out of necessity and popularity. In India, Hinduism forbids the consumption of beef, and Islam forbids pork, this prompted McDonald's initially to use lamb instead; it later switched to chicken due to its popularity. In predominantly Muslim countries like Malaysia, pork is not served due to Muslim dietary laws; the hamburger is called the beef burger, avoiding the word "ham". In Israel, with kosher dietary laws forbidding the mixture of meat and dairy products, cheeseburgers are not popular. McDonald's runs kosher restaurants in Jerusalem and Buenos Aires, Argentina and offers a "Passover Bun" for the eight-day period in which practicing Jews abstain from leavened bread. "Veggie burgers" are offered wherever there is a significant demand, including India and much of Western Europe.

The following pages list all the different menu items I have discovered, not only through visiting myself but from information I have collected from other sources. McDonalds is always trying to capture a new market and hence they introduce new ideas onto the menu regularly. It would be very difficult to keep up with all of these. Some items are experimental and may only appear for a matter of weeks where others become a staple of the standard menu. I have tried to capture as many as possible.

Restaurant Variations

McDonalds has expanded out so much it now has a separate counter on the street selling soft serve ice-cream for the passersby in a hurry. This has been seen in Budapest and Hong Kong.

They also have a separate section McCafe, which serves the usual fare of coffee, tea, pastries, muffins and cakes. The café makes the takeaway stores a little more upmarket. In fact many McDonalds’ restaurants around the world are more elaborate than others. India and Egypt have a porter at the door to open it as you enter while the French version make it a more pleasurable experience by having a fancier premises to visit.

The price of menu items is not however relative to the economic status of a country. So for the poorer nations, the cost of a meal at McDonalds seems relatively expensive compared to a local meal, whereas the cost of a McDonalds’ meal in a well off nation is relatively cheap! As the McDonald's burger menu in the United States is similar to that elsewhere, The Economist magazine devised the Big Mac Index, comparing the price of the Big Mac burger around the world.

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