…It’s delicious. I can’t help it. Despite every voice in my head that screams, “Stop!!! What are you doing?! You don’t even eat Big Macs at home! Give your money to a boulanger and not a corporation! Go get a Camembert sandwich, or something!” I can’t help but be tempted by les golden arches every time I pass by. Which is often, because it’s about a two-minute walk from my door. The maintenance man even pointed it out when I moved in. French McDonalds also has several advantages over its American counterpart, namely:
- Deluxe Potatoes. You can get them instead of regular French Fries and they are basically just seasoned potato wedges — probably the closest thing I’ll get to home fries.
- Croque McDo. Don’t you remember giggling when you found out that a grilled cheese was a Croque Monsieur in seventh-grade French class? And then starting a lengthy obsession about this fun country where you could almost speak the language and go around calling your sandwiches Mister? Yeah, me too! The Croque McDo is McDonald’s answer to that culinary masterpiece, a.k.a. What I Buy When I Need to Feel French. I know, it’s not much. Hey, I never said I was perfect. The Croque McDo, however, is.
- Doing like the Locals Do. Anytime vaguely around lunch or dinner and the drive-thru (ahem, the McDrive) is five cars deep. Inside, the line is nearing the door. I saw a group of four teenagers walking through the snow the other day, each with a McFlurry in hand — now that’s dedication. People in Évreux can’t get enough McDo’s. This is either a sign of the apocalypse…or just testament to the deliciousness of McDonalds in France.
I do know, deep down, that maybe going to McDonald’s is like waving the white flag, even if just for a day: I surrender. I need something familiar. In his published travel journal, graphic novelist (cartoonist?) Craig Thompson said, “Easy to love a place the day you leave it,” which I feel is true of every weird nostalgic feeling I have for fast food and upstate New York rest stops and big, cheap coffees and commuting. The things I shouldn’t hold close but do, but why? Maybe I’m a New Yorker at heart, eschewing daylight and casual strolling for whatever it is we’re looking for, wearing Tough Things like a badge of courage. No good McFlurry goes unpunished, after all. I never let myself get off that easy.