Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Royale with Cheese

. Tuesday, October 27, 2009



Warning: Above video has Tarantino language in it, so it's probably NSFW.

So the French love McDonald's so much that they're putting one in the Louvre. And somewhat surprisingly, everybody seems pretty nonplussed. Why? Because McDonald's (at least in France) may now be of better quality than local bistros:

Part of McDonald’s success in France can be explained by the company’s efforts to adapt to local taste buds. “The French eat McDonald’s in a French way,” said Caroline Deleuze, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s France. “They come less often but spend more because they want a proper meal.” That is defined as a sit-down experience with two courses.

Local menus offer sandwiches that aim to please local tastes. Le Royal Deluxe features a whole-grain mustard sauce on top of the standard beef patty, cheddar and vegetables, and it is now the second-largest selling burger in France, after the Big Mac. Le Big Tasty, a seasonal offering with a sauce that imitates the charred flavor of meat grilled on a barbecue, promises “le goût de l’Amérique,” or the taste of America.

McDonald’s France offers its version of the Caprese salad, called Little Mozza, and beer and espresso are also available. The company emphasizes the French origin of the beef and vegetables in its restaurants. ...

Mr. Drouard is untroubled by the McDonald’s in the Louvre. “We’re in a process of industrialization,” he said. “The French have become eaters of convenience food.”

McDonald’s popularity, he said, is the result of declining standards in what the French consider traditional fast food. “Bistros don’t know how to make a good sandwich anymore,” Mr. Drouard said. “McDo is a legitimate competitor.”


That's kind of funny to me, but not terribly surprising. Though nobody wants to admit it, even in the States the fast food chains are often of similar or better quality than local diners in the same price range. And McDonald's is very good at adapting its menu to suit local tastes. In Paris you can get the Caprese salad and "local" beef as mentioned above, but also jambon buerre (baguette with ham and butter). (Keep this in mind whenever you hear that globalization equals American cultural imperialism; it ain't true.)

In America, fast food is a countercyclical asset, so it always does well in recessions. The current one is no different. But in Iceland, the collapse of the krona made the inputs for McDonald's burgers too expensive to import without charging much higher prices. Instead, all three restaurants in the country will be closed in a few days.

Despite the setback in Iceland, the Big Mac is so ubiquitous that it is its own exchange rate.

Also: fast food restaurants maybe don't make you fat. How do you say "supersize me" en français?

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