McDonald’s are breaking into markets once averse to American fast-food cuisine. On a recent trip to Thailand, I chanced upon a glossy pamphlet advertising McDonald’s new breakfast menu. A choice of pork or chicken congee (also known as rice porridge) was the new special. What a joke, I thought, congee actually means “joke” in Thai! But as more people transition towards bourgeois households, American junk food becomes the status symbol, and a neighbourhood “drive-through” McDonald’s becomes the gold standard.
Customisation, aka cuisine appropriation, is McDonald’s key strategy for world food domination. Subsequently, I have accumulated intelligence about the culinary manipulations that the sneaky clown has engaged in across the globe, from Bangkok to Paris to New York.
“Joke” is to Thais what Weet-Bix is to Australians; it’s the national breakfast. That’s why it was incorporated into menus and embraced with big smiles by the people of Old Siam. Meanwhile in the West, the next time you happen to be browsing in a supermarket, check out the canned tuna. As you will likely find out, it all comes from Thailand. Thus it must have seemed logical to the chefs at McDonald’s Plaza (food domination headquarters) to bake up the “Tuna Pie” as a memorial to this country’s proud exports of canned tuna.
The “Sausage N’Egg Twisty Pasta” involves bendt pasta – in other words, macaroni – in a watered down soup, topped with a previously frozen, perfectly shaped, circular egg, and a flattened sausage. Once you have downed the soup, a “Fresh Corn Cup” adds a touch of Hong Kong eccentricity.
“Shaka Shaka Chicken” sounds more Columbian than Japanese. It’s basically chicken strips plunged into “vintage” oil, fried to a golden crisp, and dumped into a paper bag. The consumer then tops the bag up with a packet of red-alert-sodium seasonings and shakes it, presumably to Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’.
The ‘Maharaja-Mac’ is India’s take on the Big Mac. It uses chicken instead of beef, in accordance with the religious laws that preach “Thou shalt eat Chicken, as
Cow looks like neighbour”. So instead of offering McCalf they have McEgg; McDonald’s is enlightened.
McDonald’s franchises have exercised the Australian slang word ‘brekkie’ profusely in the breakfast menu to attract working class Aussies. Then, to flirt with the middle classes, Maccas introduced the premium Angus Burger which was a commercial success in the United States. Australia, being the USA’s puppy, lapped it all up.
Why buy expensive macarons from a Pierre Hermé ‘crème-de-la crème’ patisserie when you can purchase them in a much less intimidating atmosphere at a fraction of the price from Mc du Café. Granted McCafes don’t carry thirty flavours – in fact they only have six – but by selling the national button to les misérables commoners, French McDonald’s hope to connect with the majority who don’t live in Versailles.
No pizzas at the McDonald’s in Italy’s piazzas. Instead, ‘Focaccino’ adds a zest of Italian flair to the menu, where focaccia bread is the star attraction of this roast turkey sandwich. On the other side of the taste spectrum, the ‘Crema Catalana’ (Crème Brûlée) has already garnered loyal Italian fans who are sick of Tiramisu.
McDonald’s subtly transitioned into the Canadian market by renaming scones as biscuits, solidifying the long suspected theory that the USA and Canada are the same country. Crossing the border into ‘scary’ is the ‘Double Big Mac’. Try warning a Canadian happily gorging on one of these, and he is likely to mumble an apologetic “Eh, but I just got started”.
The menu on offer in New York is a large waistband, but that’s not stopping McDonald’s from fighting anorexia with the pork and barbeque-sauce special ‘McRibs’! Further down, McUSA gets homey by dishing out the all-American classic sweet, ‘S’mores Pie’, a gooey reminiscence of early childhood.
McDonald’s aims for world food domination through food customisation that provides culturally assimilated dishes to every pair of Golden Arches around the globe. Ronald is a savvy red clown, and I’m lovin’ it.