Monday, March 2, 2009

The Euro Meal?: McDonaldization of Europe

McDonald's. What a restaurant. Yet here in Belgium, it seems to take a classier turn but still be fast food.
The first thing I did for this assignment (for CLAM) was go to the McDonald's Belge website. The first thing I noticed was that it was not a McDonald's corporate site; it's considered a third party. I was then confronted with the choice of Dutch or French. I chose the latter. When I went onto the website though, some stuff was still in English. It really seems random what is put in French and what in English. For example, there are the French tabs "Enfants" (Children) and "A la Carte" (the menu, basically), but then there was the English tab "It's What I Eat & What I Do". I thought that was interesting. Are they assuming you know some English if you are eating at McDonald's?

Next, of course, is the Euro Meal. It's like the Dollar Menu but not nearly as good of a deal with the exchange rate. I also noticed their new sandwich is the Chicken, Bacon, and Onion combo (on a square bun, no less!). I don't know if they have this sandwich in the United States but it certainly isn't advertised on the USA site like it is on the Belgian site. I'm wondering if that's McDonald's trying to cater to Belgian tastes? Maybe.

Side note: McDonald's has clothes? I never knew. While it's not a cultural difference because they indeed have McDonald's clothing in the United States, I didn't notice it until looking at the Belgian site. This is probably because I don't ever go onto the McDonald's website but still. I'm not sure if I want clothes from McDonald's. I'll stick with my McChicken.

Now, luckily, I went to Brussels this weekend for the Balloon Parade (pictures to come!) and went into a McDonald's. There are no McDonald's in Louvain-la-Neuve, just Quick and Goldway (Goldway is quite possibly the grossest fast food ever though).

Here's a picture to the right of the McDonald's I visited. As you can see, it is already looks classier than American McDonald's. It's right below the Marriott!
It's the same on the inside. Classier, but still fast food.

As you'll notice to the left, there are some interesting McFlurry flavors here at the Belgian McDonald's. I certainly haven't had Caramel & Pecan flavor (nor will I ever) or a McFlurry Crumble (which actually sounds good).

I didn't eat at the McDonald's though. I had actually made it my goal to not eat at a McDonald's while I'm here. I did, however, eat at a Pizza Hut. This Pizza Hut was like a real restaurant though. They had a hostess and waitresses and everything. The pizza was also better in my opinion. I'm wondering if the McDonald's is the same.

Ok so they are the same in the basics. I am guessing the reason for the different flavors and choices is to provide choices that Belgians would like more. There's still the Big Mac though. I also feel like everything is nicer in Europe, often because everything is in old, majestic buildings even if all they have in them now is a McDonald's. I feel that the differences between McDonald's would be much more pronounced in an area where other things are much more different. For example, India (I am told) has mutton burgers instead of beef because the cow is holy to them and they have rice instead of potatoes because they are so scarce in India. Now don't take those words too seriously in case I was mistold but it sounds correct. Europe and the United States definitely have some similarities and McDonald's is one of them. However, they also definitely put a European spin on it.