I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s. A nearly lifelong vegetarian, I try to eat healthful food whenever I can. Even when I was a little kid and still ate meat, I rarely got to visit the Golden Arches and enjoy a Happy Meal.
While my colleagues and friends sometimes “treat” themselves to an Egg McMuffin breakfast or a Big Mac after a long day at work, I can honestly say I never have any desire to go there.
There is one exception. As a junior in college, I spent a year studying in Vienna and discovered I actually enjoyed the Austrian McDonald’s. I went there all the time, drawn in by the allure of food that was both comforting and familiar and an intriguing variation of the kind of McDonald’s available back home.
I could get plain vanilla soft serve and Gemüse (German for vegetable) nuggets, which were an Austrian version of chicken nuggets — only they were vegetarian. During that one year in my life, I became a loyal McDonald’s patron.
In the decade that followed, I would go to McDonald’s only once, to get my McDonald’s-loving roommate a Big Mac and some fries after his dog died. Recently, though, I went back to Mickey D’s again — again, in a foreign country. Intrigued by the notion of a US fast-food chain that might have some slight variations, I stopped by a Mumbai McDonald’s while on my honeymoon in India.
I was particularly drawn to the McDonald’s because I knew that, last year, the state that includes Mumbai became the latest in the country to ban the sale of beef. The city’s McDonald’s was sure to be non-traditional.
Right away, I'm presented with Mumbai's answer to the Big Mac: the Maharaja Mac, which it calls 'The Social Burger.'
But I decide to go with the signature sandwich, which comes in chicken and corn/cheese. I go with the latter since I'm a vegetarian.
I regret my choice. The corn and cheese combo don't sit well, especially after a nauseating day of Mumbai traffic.
And decide to skip dessert, even though it looks appealing. I've never seen cheesecake in a US McDonald's.
While I'm tempted to linger and sample desserts, I decide to head out and see what else the city has to offer.
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