The Buenos Aires McDonald’s Myth

1 Comment Print

McDonald's Logo, from Wikipedia Normally, I´ll avoid fast food like a body encompassing rash, however this was a mission, an investigation. A friend had told me that the burgers at McDonald´s in Argentina were something special; a far cry from the excuses they sell in the United States. His claim had some validity because the franchise does vary around the world. In Japan you can get a shrimp burger. Therefore, with my mind open to any possibility, I went out half expecting to find that some of Argentina´s famous meat made its way into the world´s most notorious cheap eatery.

This important issue demanded immediate action, so without wasting an hour I found a McDonald´s my first day in Buenos Aires. Forget the second widest street in the world Nueve de Juilo. The ¨restaurant¨was in a hip area called Recolata, which is adjacent to the more hip area Palermo. From the very beginning things were slightly amiss. There was something weird in the air, and it wasn´t auto emissions, but the smell of pastries and coffee.

I had walked into the ground floor of a buidling that was doning the golden arches. The chairs and wastebins were emlazoned with the logo, but all I saw was a small pastry counter with an assortment of coffees. Later, as I was leaving, I realized this was a lame attempt at broadening its customer base with a more quality oriented franchise called McCafe. Not finding burgers in the pastry section I took the only available route, a staircase in the back. The stairway opened up into a massive foodcourt that is attached to an adjacent movie theater. Along with many other eateries here was McDonald´s , gleaming posters of burgers and fries and all. I stepped up to the counter and gave an adolescent – good start for cultural similarities – my order for two McCriollo sandwiches (pronounced McCriosho in Argentina´s unique pronounciation of the double L).

My hands were trembling with anticipation and mild starvation as I unwrapped my first burger. Just as I was about to take my first bite a glob of sauce and some shreds of lettuce fell from the buns onto the table top. Some things never change. And then, it was on. Five mintues later, I sat back in my chair, two crumpled wrappers on my tray.

I´m going to be honest here: it was really difficult to tell how good the meat actually was. Between the buns, sauces, tomatos, pickles, and lettuce there isn´t too much room to find a definite distinction with a piece of meat the thickness of a fruit-rollup. Moreover, one needs to worry about the placebo effect. That is, could my expectations influence my judgement, as I´m certain they did for a friend of mine who adamantly argues the meat is infact better.

Despite these setbacks, I think it would be unfair to say my investigation was a waste. Firstly, I sated my hunger. Secondly, I can now speak to the quality of the kaiser-style buns that are used here. They are far superior to those used in the United States and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the kaiser bun is only used on the McCroillo. If you want the BigMac or any other burger you have to take the standard. Of course, this is only my humble opinion, but it happens to be a fact. Don´t take it as counter evidence to my claim if Argentina doesn´t become famous for its buns at McDonald´s.

One Comment

Scott Cushing on December 7, 06

The imagery and subtle sarcasan Dr. Hartman uses is quite amusing. I truly enjoyed this piece as much as a big mac and a small seasoned curly.

What Do You Think?