British Food of the Day Volume II : Day 7
I had a most remarkable McDonald's McSperience today: for the first time I completely forgot that I am 4000 miles from home. Sitting in a McDonald's along the A420 on the way to Oxford I took a bite of my Big Mac, set down my book and looked out the window. For a few seconds I couldn't tell where I was.
The original idea of McDonald's was that you could get the same food prepared the same way at any of their restaurants. Despite this it's always obvious where you are: your fellow customers are different, the view outside is unique, and the greasy teenagers slapping your burger together are unmistakably locals.
Today, however, the restaurant was almost vacant, I couldn't see the counter or the prices, and the area surrounding the building looked like any other McDonald's parking lot near a state highway. The British family next to me might have been on vacation in the US, driving around the midwest in a rented minivan on their way to visit their friends the Smiths in Grand Rapids. I might have been on my way home from a visit with my family.
I grabbed a fry and dunked it in the ketchup that came in a barbeque sauce container. I pondered the fact that the special sauce in my Big Mac seemed to be carefully rationed for the good of Queen and country. I wished that my Coke had more than three cubes of ice.
Thinking for a moment that you're home may be the easiest way to become homesick.
In the mid-eighties my mother and grandmother took a two-week trip to England. We drove to the airport to pick them up upon their arrival and after the usual greetings and hugs my mom blurted, "I'm starving. Let's go to McDonald's!" While in England they took buses everywhere and were apparently forced to eat at hotels and British restaurants the entire time.. She hadn't enjoyed a meal in two weeks.
Updated November 18, 2002
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