Monday, May 15, 2006

My Old Kentucky Home

When I used to travel outside the USA a tourist, I felt that eating at McDonald's was some kind of cultural betrayal. Why eat Le Big Mac in Paris when the crepes were plentiful, cheap and unavailable in the average American strip mall? I have always been more of a Wendy's gal anyway, (notwithstanding the the best fast food in the universe), so a trip to the golden arches was rarely on my vacation agenda.

During our first months in Germany, however, McDonald's beckoned me. I resisted its advances, saving it until the day I knew would come, when I just couldn't find the energy to decipher a German menu or enter a bakery and point hopefully at something I believed to be a lunchtime item. I knew, at the House of Ronald, that I could place an order and be understood, and that the food would taste as expected. It was like eating at my grandma's house - not very fancy and probably full of bad carbs and cholestorol, but the predictability was unparalleled.

I eventually became more comfortable reading menus and ordering food auf Deutsch, and my visits to the McNugget Palace diminished. I went there mainly during times of desperation - I needed something fast and Mickey D's was the only real fast food/drive thru/get outta there with a sack of fries and a Coke option we had discovered. This past Saturday, we zipped through while running some errands (our other option was eating in the IKEA cafeteria and while it also appeals to my lazy point-and-nod ordering style, I wasn't in the mood for Swedish meatballs). Perfectly practical and defensible.

Then, yesterday, we took a drive through an as-yet-unexplored part of Furth. Jeff was trying to show me the local football stadium, but I was distracted by a glittering mirage - a shiny red building topped by a white belltower and the smiling face of none other than Colonel Sanders. We swung immediately into the parking lot and headed for the entrance without a word to each other. After ordering combo meals (they serve fries instead of mashed potatoes, but the coleslaw is exactly the same) and perching on those familiar plastic banquettes to enjoy our grease, we sheepishly agreed that neither of us could remember the last time we'd eaten at KFC. In fact, we both specifically avoided it, citing urband legends of questionable entities emerging from the Colonel's deep fat fryers.

Then why were we there, in the middle of an impressively packed fast food joint, eating greasy chicken off unfamiliar glass plates (it's that sustainability thing the Germans have going, it really ruins the paper-plate and plastic-cutlery American vibe)? It was either the longing for a chicken dinner on a warm Sunday in May, or those hormones that all Americans are injected with along with the measles vaccine, causing us to develop a homing instinct for the nearest free-standing cinderblock building housing a bank of French fry warmers, teenagers wearing visors, and a drive-up window. There's just no escaping fate.


EuroTrippen said...

One of the first things I had to do when we first arrived was walk into McDonalds and order a 'royal mit cheese', but that was more about Pulp Fiction than burger-longing.

You really have KFC?? Damn me for moving to former east germany... their idea of embracing america is not hurting us when we dare to speak english in front of them.

Kerri said...

You are totally making me want KFC for lunch! You can't beat when they have the $4 lunch special. Stay away from the corn on the cob though, I ventured there a few months ago and lived to regret it.

I hate to say it when you are so very far away, but Burgerville continues to get better and better. Let's go there when you come home in July! Can't wait to see you!

heza said...

Your post cracks me up. We have to drive to Regensburg to get a whiff of the Colonel.

After 10 months of Bavarian living, I thought I was half cured from the FF insanity. That was until today when I found myself in a BK contemplating a whopper jr with cheese. I'm so weak.

Anonymous said...

Sustainability, yeah, Bush already made it loud and clear that this is not what America wants. I thought Adidas also supported sustainability. Good to know that some of their workforce apparently don't! The elephant wins!