24 November, 2011

Warning: This blogpost is basically 2014 words about fast food. If you are on a diet or are afraid of contribution to global obesity epidemic, I suggest you skip reading this.

As much as I love writing blogposts, I enjoy procrastinating them even more.

Since my last post I’ve been especially busy procrastinating. I even reached a stage where I decided to write a list of titles for upcoming blogposts rather than actually writing them. It was as I thought of the title of this blogpost, overwhelmed by a longing which I have come to know all too well, that I decided this had to be it. This had to be my latest blogpost.

longing [ˈlɒŋɪŋ]. n. a prolonged unfulfilled desire or need…

Food seems to play such an important part in our lives. It’s sold to us based on its health, reduced fats, low sugar etc. etc. When we travel people often want to ‘experience’ the culture of other countries. So many ‘unknown unknowns’ and such.

It’s all BS. Do you really want to go to France and eat a snail or frogs or some shiz? Are you going to go to China and eat rat or panda or something? Let me answer this for you: NO.

If I wanted to experience different foods, I would have stayed in Australia. We eat some crazy stuff. Of course, what I call crazy is probably normal to other people.

One of the most disturbing moments of my childhood was when I was around 5 or 6 and my Mum cooked Ox tongue. I don’t know whether anyone has seen an Ox tongue before, but it is considerably large. And it’s a tongue. Like, it’s an ACTUAL tongue. They’re massive and could most probably be used in some form of murderous bludgeoning. If such a murder was to occur publications like the Gold Coast Bulletin would respond with headlines like TONGUE TIED, GOT YOU BY THE TONGUE and MORE TEETH, LESS TONGUE.

I’m quite a fussy eater. There was a time when I basically never finished eating my dinner. I was skinny then. I think this was a time before I really started to enjoy food. When I saw this GIGANTIC tongue writhing like some kind of unholy demonic snake trapped inside this pot, my face was contorted into such a shocked, disgusting expression that I have never been able to make it since. I think it possibly caused me long term mental damage. Even now just thinking about it makes me shiver.

But my point is – people don’t want new when they’re traveling. They want what they know. Any person who says otherwise has serious issues. I don’t think it’s something to be ashamed of.

I have to tell you, the best part about traveling overseas is being able to experience the different menus within globalised fast food empires. This is what reveals the true nature of a culture. As we all know, what’s different between us is what the international corporations tell us is different. Bla bla bla 99% – speaking of which, apparently Anne Hathaway went down to the Occupy Wall Street thing before it was pepper sprayed/Obamaised. Obviously getting into character as the communist heroine ‘Catwoman.’

Subway here is weird. It’s still manned by the same ‘sandwich artists,’ but it’s missing some of the vital characteristics that define subway to me. There is no such thing as a pizza sub. There is no herb and cheese bread. This kind of makes my world come crumbling down all around me, but this is saved by a beautiful inclusion to the subway marketing process here – the sub of the day. Every day of the week there is a different 6-inch sub which is available for a mere $2.45. That’s Euros, not dollars, but I say dollars all the time, so let’s pretend it is and not tell anyone.

Quality of subs are pretty good, but the lack of herb and cheese bread and pizza sub is incredibly detrimental. I’ve only eaten there once since i’ve been here, and I simply chose the sub of the day to avoid trying to translate the menu.

Also, the service there was kind of horrific. I guess the subway market struggles here because everyone is skinny and good looking. I am not even exaggerating when I say that I could well be the most obese person in this country. I have seen a few people which are larger, but realistically it is difficult to find a person on the street who wouldn’t fit in at a modelling show.

Given the cost effective measures taken at Subway, one could be led to believe that this same economic relief is provided across all fast food chains – this is certainly not the case.

McDonalds here is fairly expensive. Most of the prices are around the same as Australia, but in Euros. In that case we’re looking at about a 30% mark-up. It’s just not good enough. The quality of the burgers is also disappointing. The menu is strange and foreign. There is no ‘crispy chicken deluxe’ or any of the burgers which i would usually eat. The only two which are the same are the Big Mac and the McChicken, I think. They have like these weird sub-shaped burgers. They are called things like ‘Chicken Sate.’ Again, they’re very expensive, but they feature the same chips which are famous globally from McDonalds.

These sub-shaped burgers, which are kind of on hotdog-shaped buns. I am finding this very difficult to describe. I am making the shape with my hands in an attempt to communicate this to you in an effective manner, but given the fact you are not near me I have used paint instead.


I suddenly remember why I don’t draw.

A lot of these burgers are dominated by sauce. The Dutch have a real liking for sauce. I’ve never been too much of a sauce person. The exceptions to this rule are, of course, pizza and sweet chilli sauce (see prior paragraph on why subway here is crap.) They LOVE it. In KFC and McDonalds, cashiers are always keen to offer you ketchup or ‘mayonnaise’ with your meal. This isn’t really ‘mayonnaise,’ however, it is fritessauss which is ‘sauce for the fries’ in the Queen’s English.

I don’t really enjoy it. It has a taste I don’t like. I would much prefer if they just drowned the chips in salt like they do back home. The Dutch could surely use their love of sauce and fat (cheese here is about 50% fat) to create a salty fat in which to fry these chips. REVOLUTIONARY

Having watched Masterchef for a couple of seasons now, I know better than to go for this simplified solution. What makes the salt so beautiful is its difference in texture to the fries. It accentuates the beauty of the chips and the solemn sacrifice potatoes have made in bringing them into existence. Whilst our men and women die in Iraq for democracy, potatoes are being sacrificed every day to create fries. Peace comes at a cost.

Speaking of fries, the beautiful thick KFC chips do not exist here. They are the same manner of fries which is cooked at McDonalds. This is strange to me. I am no marketing person, but this seems like a niche market that KFC could swoop in and real people in with. Dutch people do love their fries. They are the most popular takeout by far, with the Belgian chip company ‘Manneken pis’ producing chips similar in size and appearance to KFC chips in Australia – ‘Manneken pis’ dominates the market here. They’re pretty amazing chips, one has to give them a lot of credit.

KFC menus are quite alike their Australian counterparts, though they lack the ultimate burger meal so many of us have come to love. They also provide coleslaw with their meals instead of potato and gravy. Potato and gravy is further replaced by corn cobs in their larger meal deals. It’s a sad loss, and one which is visible behind the eyes of those who work at the counters here. Though they smile, their souls are weeping.

Wedges are on offer here, however they can only be purchased as part of a ‘zinger burger meal.’ The size of these wedges is limited to small amounts.  They are not available in large. They are pretty good, but they hardly compare with what I believe is the most dominant feature within the entire fabric of the Dutch fast food network…Twister fries.

Anyone who has dined at Hog’s Breath Cafe knows the true joy that these chips – neigh, gifts from the heavens – can bring to a meal. Especially these twister fries, which are available from Burger King. They are seriously the most addictive fast food i have ever tasted. I wish that KFC was able to sell twister fries alongside a couple of pieces of chicken. I think it would result in me instantaneously combusting as a result of pure joy, alongside the want and need for them.

I think I would travel to the ends of the earth for these fries. If this was a world of magic, I would choose a packet of these fries to be one of my horcruxes. I would then find the factory which produced them and make it another horcrux. From there I will hunt down the man who first thought of adding this to the Burger King menu and make him my horcrux.

I think if someone ate one of my twister fries from the packet i was eating, I would probably murder them. Most likely using my feet somehow, as my mouth and hands would be too precoccupied making love to the remaining twister fries.

The fries are definitely the best part about Burger King. Whilst it is obvious to many who have travelled or read one of the numerous scholarly investigations on this issue, Australia has some of the smallest burgers in the world. I could easily eat a Chicken Tendercrisp from Hungry Jacks in Australia with one hand. At Burger King, however, the Tendercrisp requires the use of both hands due to its immense size. The same could be said for all burgers- including those on sale at both KFC and McDonalds.

Whilst consumers and sexually-active human beings are obsessed with size, it is the quality of the meat which really makes the meal. Despite being a larger meal, the Burger King Chicken Tendercrisp can’t hold its own against its Australian competition. The Aussie chicken breast is fuller, juicier and is more clearly defined as meat coming from an actual chicken. The Burger King chicken, whilst larger, is thinner and lacks this quality. It’s the quality of the meat, rather than size, which should really be utilised in comparing the quality of fast food products.

Fast food establishments are a place where people believe miracles can happen. Horrendously obese people drink Diet Coke believing it will offset the calories from a 4-storey burger and an extra large fries. Whilst this is, unfortunately, not the case, the mere fact that these people dare to dream is beautiful. It’s where children bug their parents for a meal with a highly-toxic plastic toy and where individuals come to leach wi-fi. Behind this front of joy and happiness, however, lies a dark and seedy underworld. A dark world characterised by failures in burger quality and the fetishisation of sauce.

Perhaps my adventures at McDonalds and the confrontation with my true nemesis – random turtleneck man – have brought about a tragic chain of events. Perhaps it has been the shattering of my faith in one Mr Ronald McDonald – who would have thought that a ginger overlord would condone such evil? No matter what the reason or why these fast food chains fail to provide twister fries universally without charge as a gesture of good will and compassion for humanity, it is clear there are flaws within this system.

There is only one question which must be asked – when will the international community come to Australia’s aid and institute the distribution of twister fries across the continent?

This new GFC is nothing compare to the TFC – Twister Fries Crisis.




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3 Responses to Longing

  1. Alexander Kittens says:

    Wow Dale, an amusing read 😀
    I think you’re so right when you say that people want to eat the foods they know when they’re overseas. I’m sick of the Dutch kas and broodje, gimme some Lentils As Anything St Kilda style!!

  2. Kimberly Tillyer Strudwick says:

    I wouldn’t go to mcdonalds, KFC or hogs breath in any country if you paid me (unless it was to use the toilet). But yes some Lentil as Anything would be very welcomed right now. Dutch food is basically just oil. I love Dutch bacon though and how easily available organic meats are. Phwar. Actually, all groceries here are so cheap. But for chips, yep Maneken pis is THE BEST, even though they laughed at me for wanting lemon juice instead of mayonnaise.

  3. Kimberly Tillyer Strudwick says:

    p.s. i’ve tried poffetjes, herring, and bitterballen and would only go back for the poffertjes but it was all worth a try. oh also i tried eel which i can’t believe i did as the idea to me is revolting, but it wasn’t as pongy/fishy as i expected. you should try the new things! actually, mcdonalds has the bitterballen for sale if you go for their reconstituted offal aka ‘meat’ then at least try it there.

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