Worst Big Mac Ever.
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand. Jan 2006.
I was travelling through Thailand on my third trip there in as many years. Yes, I fell in love with the place, the people, the food, the everything about it. This was also was the first time and place I had ever backpacked. So like a high school crush, or actual first love, I couldn’t let Thailand go for a few years. Now I look back on the place with fond memories but with no intention of reliving high school (so to speak) at this point in my life.
My girlfriend at the time – and I – made our way over 6 weeks through the south, the north, into Laos and then finally back to Bangkok – for our last night in town. Specifically, Khao San Road. KSR is the beginning and ending of anyones journey to south east asia. Everyone there is either coming or going but no one is staying any longer than they have to. If you’ve never been to KSR, you must go….it is something out of this world and has to be experienced in order to understand. Alas though, not the point of this story.
With all the culinary delights and choices of exotic and fun, somehow the moment seemed right for us to eat at McDonalds in what would be our last meal in Thailand – on what would then be – our last night ever in Thailand. Things were working well off the start. Familiar, air conditioned, clean, and a menu in English. Maybe the menu wasn’t in English because pictures certainly are a universal language. I imagine I was just pointing at a picture and saying a number. Nung, song, sam, sip, 1, 2, 3, 4….or something along those lines, which was all I needed apparently.
Everything to this point was spot on for McDonalds as weve (re: North American collective) come to expect, and we sat down inside the restaurant to eat familiar food in familiar surroundings. I started with the fries (add more salt always) and a sip of coke, check. Moving on to the burger, I opened up the wrapper and saw a glorious specimen of a Big Mac. Finite details of lettuce and sauce and buns and floating. Yes the whole sandwich appeared to be hovering layer on top of layer….. fluffy like. In other words, fresh and put together with inspiration that would be similar to that as making a house of cards…..detailed, delicate, and tall.
At this time,
There was a lunch hour line up starting to form and we realized that our selection of serenity seating –or a nice quiet meal – was basically parallel to the people waiting in line to give their order. We had started, so we sat tight and kept our talking low – in other words, listening to other peoples conversations around us. Looking into the meal, I carefully picked up the sandwich making sure the layers were not sliding off one another – and by this, making two indistinguishable menu items. With strategic placement of my pinky fingers around the master piece I was off for the first bite of my last meal in Thailand. Bite one tasted ok (a bit more sauce I thought) and I was chewing away actually thinking that this was decent. Second bite was roughly the same thing but I noticed that the sandwich was starting to move each level around and getting a bit out of control. Chewing and not thinking, I continued on. It was the third bite that was the disaster. Something unexpected here. The wonderfully constructed weightless and fluffy burger took on a life of its own. Probably the sauce factor, slippery pickles, greasy patties – and my lack of attention from bites one and two – and suddenly the burger exploded. One bun this way, one patty that way, a pickle flying off to the side, lettuce flying like shrapnel, sauce dripping like dough from a spoon – gooey but quick.
The overwhelming thought when my girlfriend pointed out I was a disaster – or looked like one rather – was that, in fact I was. Mess everywhere, literally. Its amazing how fast that can actually happen. One minute, sitting down and diving in, and the next, a make your own big mac platter sitting in front of you.
Standing next to us in line were two British girls, one looking at me with shock
“oh my god, I think Im going to be sick.” She says to her friend as they peer on my sorry soul.
“Girls……Save yourselves.” I announce. “This was the worst choice ever…..I cant freaking believe……..” My girl kind of nods her head in support…….going with it….
I got up and threw the entire tray in the garbage. The two British girls left the restaurant.
And, I was pissed (for the food that is, and my choice to be there). I realized at the moment that I was sitting in McDonalds on my last night in a place that can easily offer the best food reputation, as a purposeful reason for going there. Cheap and abundant…..for years enjoying fresh fish on the sea, padi thai in the market, and well, tons of stuff….mango salad, theres a mention as well.
“This is the worst thing ever, this is freaking disguisting.” I mention, getting up to leave and to clean up as well.
So we did. Up and left. Meals gone in the bin, 2 additional customers lost (plus the British quitters), and a sour Thailand taste to boot.
With these events, headed back to the room…..or maybe the pub – it’s the last night Irish one for those who have been there – one or the other we were gone. Quickly I was absorbed in the last hours fiasco and true to form couldn’t let it go. I was mad…not gone mad, but well, spouting off.
Announcing “that was the last time I eat McDonalds ever!” and so it was….
I haven’t eaten one iota of McDees for 6 yrs. Until Luxor Egypt last November and it saved my soul.
Best Big Mac Ever Pt. 3 soon to follow.
An Expensive Big Mac.
It is top news in the wonderful world of economics that McDonalds has decided to lower the price of the Big Mac (and other menu items) in Israel. Apparently this is not about value for food, gluttony, our the fast paced world we live in, but rather, an actual economic indicator of some sort.
Written yesterday in the Jerusalum Post was an article referring to this unexpected drop in the “benchmark price of the Big Mac” throughout Israel.
I was visiting Israel in the fall for 3 months and although I never actually ate at McDonalds, I did have a look at the menu a couple of times, to see what they were offering ie. Kosher vs. non Kosher. In fact McDonalds was one of the only American franchises in the country I could find. I heard tales of Starbucks being driven out of there within a calendar year…..so this is possibly a picky place. With that said, the all American burger restaurant was in full swing, everywhere and people seemed to enjoy it. Remarkable were the prices though. Using my quick (but not entirely accurate exchange rate of 4:1 –shekels to the US dollar), you could easily spend upwards of $10 on a regular Big Mac meal. This of course is expensive for the value meal but none the less also reflective of the country where everything is more expensive. Me, going directly there from wonderful 3rd world Honduras, the prices seemed like highway robbery (see: lets just go for a walk to the beach, that wont cost us anything).
In any case, reading about the Big Mac its self got me thinking about two particular personal situations involving this menu item at this restaurant. The first, where in fact I vowed never to go to McDonalds again – ever. And the second, six years later where I ate a Big Mac meal – for the first time since my vow – that saved my soul. Location one: Thailand. Location two: Luxor, Egypt. Stories to follow in pt 2 and 3 blog.
Below: south Israel, on the way to Elat…a highway service center. Aroma Cafe to the left……the store whos name starts with an ‘X’, reading right to left. Probably the favorite of my places to go for a coffee if it was on the run, more or less. Coffees were absolutely amazing in Israel, and coffee shops were everywhere.