To much of the world, the McDonald’s golden arches a shining beacon of hope; they signal happiness, prosperity and Pax Americana.
I’ve already written about my feelings on the unstoppable march of Big Macs into every corner of the globe, but it’s been almost a year since I myself have set foot in Ronald McDonald’s castle.
Yet that’s exactly where I washed ashore several weeks ago after a long and fruitless quest for books.
I avoid McDonald’s and other fast food joints in Vietnam, but only because there are so many cheaper and better choices. McDonald’s isn’t a budget option for late-night benders and cramming for finals week—it’s a status symbol like Starbucks and cocaine.
To clarify, I eat a lot of fast food when I’m in America. But there’s something infinitely more appealing about fresh, real food like you can order at almost any street corner in Vietnam.
That being said, I only wound up here because I needed to look up something on my phone and I was out of data. McDonald’s happened to be right there, like it was waiting for me.
Admittedly, I was almost embarrassed to order food. I don’t know why. Partly because I’m cheap and mostly because I didn’t want to appear greedy, I only ordered a single, lonely apple pie—the kind that sits in Hot Pocket sleeves all day because it costs too much in electricity to fire up the microwave to-order.
I will say that the staff spoke extremely good English. That’s part of what threw me off. Seriously, they’d make some fat stacks working in tourism.
I slid into a corner with my disappointing “apple” “pie” and looked around. In a sickeningly strange twist, I noticed that this McDonald’s was one of the cleanest restaurants I’d ever visited. Not to mention the fact that western fast food restaurants in Saigon are all state-of-the-art, futuristic-looking behemoths that would look out of place in American cities until flying cars are invented. These places are nice.
I’m also sorry to report that there weren’t any crazy menu items like bat nuggets or Testicola. Even the guys talking about their Independence Day plans were the same. I was in America!
Except, it was almost like a theme park caricature of America. I was like the Freakishly Large Man on display.
“Mother, are they really so large and fair? How droll! Pass me some corn, with which I shall feed him from my palm.”
Honestly though, if this was a Taco Bell we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. I love me some Taco Bell.
Do you eat fast food when you’re out of the country? How did you feel—emotionally, I mean. Obviously your body felt like shit. Let me know in the comments below!