Once the sort of hobby reserved for the jet set elite, it’s become commonplace to visit a country almost exclusively to feast on the local cuisine. Now, both dedicated foodies as well as devoted watchers of MasterChef are travelling the world, ticking off famous restaurants from bucket lists as they go.
Reserving any snootiness, eating your way around a country is as good a motivation to travel as any. Some people fly thousands of kilometers to watch birds, others prefer to eat them – as long as you’re getting out of the house, right?
But what if you’re holidaying somewhere glamourous and cultured, you’ve been away from home for a while, and all you want to taste is something familiar? Something you know and trust. Does choosing a Big Mac over fried grasshopper or haggis make you a despicable tourist? Of course not.
there’s a comfort in knowing that all the fat, sugar and salt that’s clogging your organs has been prepared safely.
There are heaps of reasons why eating junk like McDonalds or KFC overseas is totally acceptable, especially if you’re in a developing country. Maccas operates in over 120 countries, from Guam to Malta, and every territory has to adhere to their same strict guidelines and health standards. While fast food is undeniably shitty for your health, there’s a comfort in knowing that all the fat, sugar and salt that’s clogging your organs has been prepared safely.
Not to mention the gleaming, air-conditioned restaurants themselves. After sweating your way around local markets and navigating through menus in impenetrable languages, feeling the rush of that cool air as you open the glass doors can be like a refreshing kiss from an old lover.
Inside, you already know the drill – line up, point at the classic menu items, and wait for the teenagers in their snappy uniforms to bring the plastic tray of goodies over. Magically, everything tastes exactly the same as home, no matter where you go. Of course, this includes the feelings of regret that always arrive about 30 minutes after your last bite. But even then, when you’re a stranger in a strange land, sometimes it’s nice to know what’s coming.
Image: The world’s most famous clown gives a traditional greeting in Thailand.