McDonald’s. The great equalizer. While there are an abundance of McDonald’s on this planet, there are some variations that make each experience unique.
Out of the 35,000 Micky D’s in the world, the United States tops the list with over 14,000 golden arches and Europe boasts an impressive 7,850 restaurants. McDonald’s also has a website that compiles a list of the countries where their restaurants can be found, along with fun facts about their international presence.
McDonald’s is not always a college student’s friend. At the McDonald’s in Florence, the thing that struck me immediately was the price of the food. I paid €12.30 for my meal, which is equivalent to about $14.
Dropping more than $10 is not usually part of anyone’s agenda at McDonald’s, but when that bacon cheeseburger craving sneaks up on you, there is nothing that can be done about it.
The menu in Europe is limited compared to America, but the menu found in Europe has extensive dessert and coffee options. Prague offers a double pork patty alternative called the McCountry, which is an alternative to the beef Big Mac. In Florence, they have a sandwich called the McToast which is slices of prosciutto and cheese between two toasted pieces of bread.
The standard menu items can be found all over the world, but the local culture often dictates what is offered. McDonald’s provides a list of some of the local fare that is often representative of the culture.
The sandwiches have different toppings than expected and the buns are toasted. Ketchup, pickles, and onions were replaced with a slightly spicy mustard sauce. Don’t expect the food to be exactly the same as what is served in the American restaurants. Also, plot twist: the chicken McNuggets actually taste like chicken with more flavor and lighter breading.
The service was much slower than what is typical in America; the sense of urgency is generally lower in Europe, so don’t be surprised by glacial service. There were also some snazzy express ordering stations that could be used if you were not paying for your meal with cash.
Listen up, soda junkies: ice is a rare phenomenon in Europe and it must be asked for if you want to enjoy your soda to the fullest. Otherwise, the fizzy, cold, sweet Coke you are expecting will be flat,warm, and syrupy.
Also, international McDonald’s have alcohol. In Prague, beer was proudly displayed because it’s basically sacrilegious if beer is not consumed with each meal. And cappucino, espresso, and beer were flowing in the Florence McDonald’s.
Whatever the popular drink of region is, it will likely be found in the McDonald’s.
The sides are the most varied depending on the location. In Latin American Mickey D’s, refried beans, cheese, and tomatoes are served on crackers. In Florence, there is a small Italian side menu where customers can purchase little spinach bites, small blocks of parmesan cheese, and mini calzones. In Prague, there’s a very limited side menu with fries and not much else.
No Dollar (Euro) Menu
Euro menus with only a few items, such as a basic hamburger, chicken sandwich, milkshakes or a small serving of fries, can sometimes be found in the McCafe area of the restaurant. Definitely not the long list of items we are used to in American McDonald’s.
Even with all the differences between the McDonald’s rocking around the world, there are still many aspects that are super similar.
At the Florence McDonald’s, American music was playing, so feel free to enjoy Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” while waiting in line. The tables and chairs have the same sage green and brown color scheme that is found in America, and the menu is always placed high above the counter where there’s a line of workers—clad in blue—who are ready to take your order.
The fries were just like American McDonald’s french fries: addicting as hell. Are you really eating at McDonald’s if you don’t order fries? Each bite was the perfect combination of salty, chewy, and crispy. McDonald’s fries are the constant that binds the human race together.
Thankfully, in Florence and in Prague, English is spoken freely. It’s amazing what some pointing and brand names can do when there is a communication barrier. English-speakers are probably not found at all establishments, but in cities where American tourists can be found, there is a good chance that the employees will be able to speak some English.
McDonald’s is not just a beloved American tradition. People around the world have caught on to the fast food phenomenon and are enjoying it just as much as we do.
Learn about the McDonald’s found closer to home: