Arts | Food | World

June 14, 2005

Globalize Me

South of the equator, McDonald's marries its signature dishes with local flavor to form culinary masterpieces.

Jason Frank

CORDOBA, Argentina—Diners who have grown weary of Italian pizzas and Spanish empanadas will find a welcome change of pace at a small American upstart nestled in the city's lovely shopping district. Since its opening five years ago, McDonald's has offered American classics with a Latin twist. True to form, the interior decor sports the easily recognizable clean lines of American mid-century modern, while the laid-back service reflects that this is a country settled primarily by Southern Europeans. McDonald's is a clean spot with open lines of sight, providing a comforting respite from the traditional architecture, historic churches, and trees that grow in the middle of the pedestrian shopping district. An orderly vibe promises good times to be had with family and friends.

McDonald's menus
Jason Frank
From breakfast to dessert, a full range of McDonald's delicacies.
Good times—and good food. Don't pass up the combo deal, as the generous portions of soda and fries are sure crowd-pleasers. (Even neocons will find something to like in a menu that refers to the potatoes as papas fritas. While short of freedom fries, the Argentine name omits mention of that notoriously difficult country that has tried to brand everything from salad dressing to passionate kissing.) While Coke and Sprite are available, beer is not (in a glass or otherwise). Daring diners will try the Fanta for a bit of local color—in this case, orange.

Here's a closer look at items on the bright-colored menu, with all prices in Argentine pesos (divide by three and thank God there's one place on earth where the dollar is still strong):

The Pechuga Crispy is a fried-chicken patty on a hoagie-style bun with lettuce and tomato (8.50). While I could look up what pechuga means in Spanish, that would detract from the mystery of this savory sandwich.

For a perfectly cooked beef patty nestled beneath a bed of lettuce, tomato, and a variety of tasty sauces, try the McNifica (8.50).

The Cuarto de Libra con queso provides more welcome contrast with tired local customs, employing the traditional unit for measuring beef. The result is something royal, with cheese (8.50).

For the McCombo Criollo con panceta, McDonald's bends to local tastes. This delightful sandwich brings together ham and beef to create something greater than the sum of its parts (9.25).

One will not be shocked to find that the McDuo features two patties (2.75).

A celebration in burger form, the McFiesta is not unlike a block party in your mouth (2.50).

And of course, traditional fare like the Big Mac makes any travel-worn North American feel at home (8.25).

For side dishes, one should not pass up the Bastones de Muzzarella. These mozzarella sticks give a nod to the Italians of Cordoba, a tribute in stringy, deep fried cheese that would do any Italian proud (2.00).

Not willing to rest on its lunch and dinner laurels, McDonald's also offers a full breakfast menu. Here the hungry guy or girl on the go will find a wide variety of Atkins-defying fare, much of it sugar-coated, for good measure. All entrees include coffee.

The medialunes (croissants) are savory. They are available in orders of two (2.75) or three (3.25). Also well worth it are the facturas, two interesting pastries (3.00). The churros, much like the facturas but deep-fried and in stick form, are perfectly suited to dipping (3.00). Many North Americans don't feel coffee is complete without a donut. McDonald's interpretation of this breakfast staple is not to be missed (2.75).

Those without a sweet tooth won't feel slighted. The criollitos are small square biscuits that are dry and coarse in a very pleasing way (2.50).

The standout of the breakfast menu (which is available at all hours) has to be the tostada de jamon y queso. This coarse, crispy bun plays off the warm ham and cheese in a way that is sure to wake up your taste buds (3.75).

No meal would be complete without dessert and, true to form, McDonald's offers a wide array.

In a city that loves its ice-cream cones—the Grido chain of ice cream shops is the closest here to having achieved a Starbucks-style infiltration—McDonald's delivers. Its soft ice cream (.75) goes down smooth and cold. Watch out for brain freeze.

A local favorite, dulce de leche, finds a platform worthy of its fame in the dulce de leche mix (.75).

Sundaes (2.25) are great, but why not go in for the McSwing? This confection is not a nod to the polyamorous set, but instead a sundae taken to the limits of the form (2.50).

One note of warning for enjoying McDonald's delights: While the employees are both friendly and accommodating, they speak little to no English. Much of this can be dealt with, however, through a combination of pointing and pantomime. After all, the delights of the McNifica and McFiesta transcend all language barriers.

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- Food
- posted on Jun 15, 05

first-time visitor -- excellent content!
this rallied my own nostalgia for the golden arches. while on a trip to rome, i took a walking trip to the parthenon. as i rounded the corner -- BEHOLD! -- there stood the ancient columns bathed in flood lights. as if cued by some invisible stage hand, a cloud of pigeons took to flight before me. the majesty ... unfortunately the wine chose that exact same moment to twist my hunger muscles. but fortunately, just adjacent to the parthenon, stood the golden, glowing arches of MCDONALD'S. i hurried in for a big mac with fries and a large soda. god, that was a salty treat of a meal. ah, rome.
thanks for the great article!

- Food
- posted on Jun 15, 05

That review was not unlike a block party in my brain.
Did you actually try every single dish to be had at the Argentinian Mickey D's? If so, your dedication to your craft is impressive.

- Food
- posted on Jun 15, 05

a work of staggering genius to be sure! i certainly
hope you didn't eat all that glorious mickey ds all in one day. otherwise you'll never fit on a plane to come back home. well i guess you can always buy an extra seat!

- Food
- posted on Jun 15, 05
Mr. David

Wowsers. That place sounds gooder than a mofo. Do you think you might be able to send a sammy via express mail?

Dang! That'd be yumtagious!

Article by Jason Frank

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