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Do You Eat at Fast Food Restaurants when Traveling?

Do You Eat at Fast Food Restaurants when Traveling?

Old Jul 1, 19, 6:48 pm
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I needed to make a call yesterday morning (July 1 public holiday in HK), and I didn't want to disturb my still-sleeping companion in our beloved HK shoebox airbnb. Where to go? I began googling some of the nearby hotels to find out when their cafes would open - 8 to 10 AM. Not good. I wanted my stuff in hand at 7:45 for the 8 call. Perhaps their main restaurant? Nope - while ordering an a la carte coffee is no problem, they're seldom quiet. Local cafe? Most don't open till 9 or 10. Even Pacific Coffee doesn't open till 8.

Enter McDonalds, open 24 hours, surprisingly drinkable coffee (though relatively costly at HK$15 versus the $1 back in the US), spotlessly clean, and rather quiet at 7:45.

May the Gods of Travel have mercy on me.
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Old Jul 1, 19, 8:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Exterous View Post
I have a personal aversion to eating at American chain restaurants while traveling overseas. To the point where my wife and I drove around in circles for 20 minutes in a foreign town because I was convinced there had to be a local restaurant open.
Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
I know the general thought is "those damn Americans and their fast food!" But I sure see a lot of locals scarfing it down.
I understand people that would prefer to avoid McDonald's when overseas, out of the notion that they want to try local things. And I understand people that avoid any fast food like the plague under any circumstances. What I don't understand is those that wouldn't ordinarily be adverse to eating at McDonald's when home (even if it's not their first preference) but have this absolute rule against it when traveling in another country.

I get part of it: you want to try local things. I do too. In most cases, I'd prefer the local option in most cases. But it is just a preference, and I don't force some artificial rule upon myself just to reinforce some aura of sophistication that I've built up in my own mind. The above example may be one such thing. I was once in Germany at a train station in the suburbs, off of the beaten tourist path. The only food available was a McDonald's, and one of us didn't want to eat there because they wanted only German food. If there had been a local option, I would have been fine with it. But it was time to eat, and McD's was the only option. Plus, everyone around us was German, so the notion that we didn't want to eat like Americans but wanted to act like the locals and thus needed to avoid McD's was kind of out the window.

If I were to spend a week in Italy, I'd want to eat a lot of Italian food, of varying types. But I wouldn't insist on eating only Italian food for 21 meals in a row out of some notion that I'll get a full score on the culture evaluation. I've had great Italian and Indian food in Hong Kong. I've had sushi in Germany. When I'm home, I don't eat "American" food 3 times a day, but have a variety of different foods from around the world - sometimes in an Americanized setting, and sometimes in a restaurant where most other guests are from that other country's ethnicity. Why must I have a rule that I can't eat at a McDonald's overseas as my second or third choice, if other options are not readily available? There are people that are that way, and will impose the rule on the group or make a tremendous fuss about it.

Originally Posted by Tizzette View Post
I can sympathize with the need for some simple, familiar food while traveling.
Originally Posted by Tizzette View Post
Sometimes when you are tired and worn down, something easy, familiar, quick and cheap is just what you need. That is when McDonald’s is a welcome sight.
I once heard Julia Child give an interview where she was asked if she ever ate at McDonald's, almost as a joke question. She said that Yes, in fact she did. She traveled a lot, and sometimes it was the best option: she knew exactly what she liked and didn't like on the menu, and exactly how it was going to be prepared, and sometimes didn't want to experiment with the unknown when she had a place to be at a set time and no other opportunity to eat. If she can do it, I'm sure some of the sophisticated gourmet world travelers could lower themselves on occasion.
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Old Jul 1, 19, 9:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
I understand people that would prefer to avoid McDonald's when overseas, out of the notion that they want to try local things. And I understand people that avoid any fast food like the plague under any circumstances. What I don't understand is those that wouldn't ordinarily be adverse to eating at McDonald's when home (even if it's not their first preference) but have this absolute rule against it when traveling in another country.

I get part of it: you want to try local things. I do too. In most cases, I'd prefer the local option in most cases.
I once heard Julia Child give an interview where she was asked if she ever ate at McDonald's, almost as a joke question. She said that Yes, in fact she did. She traveled a lot, and sometimes it was the best option: she knew exactly what she liked and didn't like on the menu, and exactly how it was going to be prepared, and sometimes didn't want to experiment with the unknown when she had a place to be at a set time and no other opportunity to eat. If she can do it, I'm sure some of the sophisticated gourmet world travelers could lower themselves on occasion.
I avoid McDonalds like the plague at home, but use the clean McToilets as needed when traveling. Once, I saw Julia Child in there <kidding!>.
Also, as noted above, they do have dependable, free wifi.
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Old Jul 1, 19, 10:11 pm
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Originally Posted by QtownDave View Post
Not even a little bit awkward and done in a friendly playful way to educate the Ďunculturedí on the fine points of French cooking and drinking.

Again, not taking one that seriously is one of the keys to a happier life. Itís not for everyone but worth a try just once.
So the French are the authority on 'culture"?
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Old Jul 2, 19, 12:06 am
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Originally Posted by Amelorn View Post
I needed to make a call yesterday morning (July 1 public holiday in HK), and I didn't want to disturb my still-sleeping companion in our beloved HK shoebox airbnb. Where to go? I began googling some of the nearby hotels to find out when their cafes would open - 8 to 10 AM. Not good. I wanted my stuff in hand at 7:45 for the 8 call. Perhaps their main restaurant? Nope - while ordering an a la carte coffee is no problem, they're seldom quiet. Local cafe? Most don't open till 9 or 10. Even Pacific Coffee doesn't open till 8.

Enter McDonalds, open 24 hours, surprisingly drinkable coffee (though relatively costly at HK$15 versus the $1 back in the US), spotlessly clean, and rather quiet at 7:45.

May the Gods of Travel have mercy on me.
There is also free (relatively fast) Wifi at McDs in HK.
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Old Jul 2, 19, 1:41 am
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Originally Posted by HMPS View Post
So the French are the authority on 'culture"?
Like I said, itís not for everyone.
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Old Jul 2, 19, 9:14 am
  #82  
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
I once heard Julia Child give an interview where she was asked if she ever ate at McDonald's, almost as a joke question. She said that Yes, in fact she did.
I've heard other interviews with chefs who've alluded to this or similar: after spending all day and night in their own gourmet kitchen, they just want a burger, a taco, or some late-night barfood. I remember one (I forget who it was) - the interviewer said "what's your favorite meal to make at home?" His answer: "Chinese takeout."
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Old Jul 2, 19, 12:06 pm
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Originally Posted by Amelorn View Post
Enter McDonalds, open 24 hours, surprisingly drinkable coffee (though relatively costly at HK$15 versus the $1 back in the US), spotlessly clean, and rather quiet at 7:45.

May the Gods of Travel have mercy on me.
How dare you!
You will now be going to uncouth purgatory!
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Old Jul 3, 19, 12:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
What I don't understand is those that wouldn't ordinarily be adverse to eating at McDonald's when home (even if it's not their first preference) but have this absolute rule against it when traveling in another country.
I'm in the camp that won't eat at McDonald's in the U.S. -- cannot remember the last time, many years ago. Agree re clean bathrooms and availability of wi-fi.
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Old Jul 3, 19, 1:24 pm
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Originally Posted by ravenalive View Post
I'm in the camp that won't eat at McDonald's in the U.S. -- cannot remember the last time, many years ago. Agree re clean bathrooms and availability of wi-fi.
I think it's a kick that many of us who wouldn't set foot in McDonalds at home find ourselves inside one when abroad for things like bathrooms, wifi and coffee. And, yes, maybe something more to eat.
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Old Jul 4, 19, 2:10 pm
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Sometimes. Spending heaps of time abroad and having lived abroad for years, I don't see it as some mark of pride to make a point to never go to McD. I don't seek it out, but sometimes you want McD, it happens.
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Old Jul 4, 19, 2:20 pm
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Originally Posted by StartinSanDiego View Post
I think it's a kick that many of us who wouldn't set foot in McDonalds at home find ourselves inside one when abroad for things like bathrooms, wifi and coffee. And, yes, maybe something more to eat.
McDonalds is a fine place to pinch wifi and defecate. Eat not so much.
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Old Jul 4, 19, 2:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Badenoch View Post
McDonalds is a fine place to pinch wifi and defecate. Eat not so much.
​​​​​​If this thread has proven anything, it's that food preferences are personal.
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Old Jul 4, 19, 4:02 pm
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
Bolding mine above.
IIRC couple of years ago In Asia forum there was one character, who came and loudly declared that Bali was the worst tourist destination ever because Starbucks there did not taste right and was expensive, food was weird and awful and he was not interested and did not understand of all those 'local cultural stuff'.
You can guess what type of (well deserved) responses he got.
I agree with his sentiment if not the rationale. Bali is terrible. Overbuilt, overpriced, overtouristed. Beaches are nothing special, there are countless nicer, prettier, cheaper, less crowded islands within 3 hours flying time in every direction. When I think "island paradise" I am not imagining a place with McD, Wendy's a Hard Rock Cafe and huge tour buses chugging along the often crowded roads spewing exhaust and pollution everywhere. Sure there are some great hotels, but I am not inclined to fly 20+ hours to go to a hotel and never leave the grounds. Simply no reason to go there when there are so many nicer islands in the vicinity, I am convinced people just go because 1. the name has cache, 2. they can post about it on social media, 3. emperor's new clothes
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Old Jul 4, 19, 4:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
artificial rule...to reinforce some aura of sophistication.
I think this is often the root cause of this phenomenon.
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