One of the things I like best about traveling abroad is the opportunity to try new foods. McDonald's isn't the first restaurant I go to after clearing border patrol, but I confess I do always at least peek at (and sometimes sample) the weird, wonderful world of foreign fast food. Here are five McDonald's items from other countries that I wish were available in the U.S. of A.
5. Gemüse Nuggets. Fifteen years ago (God, I'm old), I was an exchange student in Graz, Austria, home of schnitzel, strudel, and gemüse nuggets. That's Deutsch for vegetable nuggets -- that is to say, clumps of peas, corn, carrots, and potatoes coated in batter and deep-fried. My 14-year-old self usually snubbed Mickey D's for its unhealthful fare but made an exception for these veggie treats.
4. My Poutine. Fries with gravy and cheese. How can that not be sold at McDonald's? I've had poutine in Canada and in Houston (though many argued that version was overdone and "inauthentic"). Now, want it passed to me through a drive-thru window. Unfortunately, however, this is not Montreal.
3. Green Tea Ice Cream Sundae. I had some of the most memorable meals of my life in Hong Kong, including one fateful late-night dessert run to the McDonald's next to my hotel. My friend and I were craving soft-serve, and though chocolate and butterscotch were available, the green tea sundae was too bizarre (to us) to pass up. Syrupy but not to sweet, the green tea topping added an earthy twist to sweet vanilla creams.
2. Big Spicy Paneer Wrap. Part of McDonald's India's new "spicy delights" menu, the BSPW takes the subcontinent's most famous cheese to another level. The website pitch says it all:
"Get ready to elevate your taste quotient with the superior, sizzling Paneer Wrap. Exquisitely picked, soft and tender paneer overwhelmed with a fiery, crunchy batter and dressed with fresh veggies & seasonings. Generously topped with a creamy sauce and a dash of mustard & melted cheese that surprise your taste buds each time you sink you teeth into it."
Makes other more, um, traditional paneer dishes seem quite lame.
1. McHuevo. For this alone I would move permanently to Uruguay, a country obviously on the cutting edge of burger construction by institutionalizing the addition of mayo and ova to the burger. I've proffered the fried egg as the No. 1 fail-safe food add-on, but the poached egg is perhaps more fitting (literally) for McDonald's perfectly round bun. The only thing better would be a double.