Ask any one of my close friends or family members about my eating habits, and most likely the word “picky” will fly out of their mouths immediately. Over the years, I’ve become a fairly high-maintenance foodie — although not quite in the way most people would expect. I actually like simple foods. I enjoy frozen yogurt without any toppings, and my favorite homemade Indian meal is essentially rice with chicken curry. But please, don’t try to make me eat bananas, basil, or bell peppers — I also don’t do very well with most seafood entrees. And if I forget to order my sandwich sans tomato, then I’m more than happy to pass that over-sized veggie slice over to any of my meal partners.
On my recent excursions throughout South and Southeast Asia, I’ve managed to find a safe solution to my picky-eating-ways. Much to my brother and sister-in-law’s chagrin, I’ve turned to McDonald’s more times than would probably be safe to admit. I’ve realized that I started using McDonald’s as my international crutch several years ago on my first trip to India. During that hot Delhi summer so many years ago, I would rush into McDonald’s just to eat a hot fudge sundae with my roomies in what felt like an air-conditioned haven. Little did I know that this initial foray into the global realm of McDonald’s would turn into a lifelong quest to eat at McDonald’s all over the world. So far my travels over the years have yielded the following results:
McDonald’s India offerings include the Maharaja Mac (think chicken tikka patty Big Mac), the McAloo Tikki Burger (fried potato patty sandwich), and the McSpicy Burger (spicy fried chicken sandwich) among a slew of other options. I tried probably the entire McD’s menu in India thanks to the motorcycle delivery service all over Delhi — the Maharaja Mac was easily my favorite sandwich, but McD’s in India will always be about the ice cream sundaes for me. Also, and this might be TMI, but the only reason I didn’t gain weight thanks to all this home delivery McD’s was courtesy of persistent Delhi Belly. Amen for that.
United Arab Emirates:
After a long day of snowboarding lessons inside the Dubai mall, I feasted on the McArabia sandwich. I had hoped for great things from this grilled chicken wrap that incorporated soft bread and a yogurt sauce, but sadly, even 4 years later, I still remember being sorely disappointed by the overall bland flavor.
My Singapore adventures are more clearly seared in my memory — probably because I just ate a Peri Peri Chicken Sandwich and some Thai-spice shaker style fries just the other day. And, yes, both of those were as awesome as they sound. But best of all at the Sing McD’s was the Kopi flavor-infused ice cream cone (think fast food style affogato). I wonder if I can carry the flavor infusion with me to the U.S. somehow hmm….
Bangkok was the most disappointing of all my McD’s discoveries. The only item unique to the city was the Samurai Pork Burger, which I couldn’t partake in. I was heartbroken.
Last but not least, Kuala Lumpur surprised me with the delicious Beef McPepper Burger. Nothing more than your average hamburger, except for the additional cracked pepper sauce that made all the difference. I’m glad my usual aversion to cracked pepper didn’t deter me from giving this sandwich a try.
After trying all of the above, it would be a real shame for me to give up on my worldwide McDonald’s quests despite having watched “Super Size Me” so long ago in my high school psychology class. Maybe by the time I learn to enjoy bell peppers and grilled shrimp, I’ll have also racked up a few more international McD’s adventures. Just maybe.
Farah Naz Khan is a recent medical school graduate who is about to start her internal medicine residency at Emory University. After graduating from college in Boston, she returned to her Alabama hometown to attend medical school, and was reunited with the mix of Southern hospitality and South Asian flair that had shaped her childhood. Follow her on Twitter @farah287 or read some of her thoughts at farah287.blogspot.com, where an earlier version of this post was published.