Traveling Americans who worry that McDonalds' reputation precedes them: fear not! The truth is, McDonald's gets a warmer reception overseas than back home, partly because global outposts of the Golden Arches go out of their way to accommodate local tastes. At the branch near the Spanish Steps in Rome, you can order a glass of wine with your Big Mac--or skip the burger altogether and opt for pasta, cooked to order.
Wikipedia has a mammoth list of McDonald's attempts to go native, the most compelling of which we have listed here.
1. In Malaysia, Bubur Ayam McD is congee (rice porridge with the consistency of thin oatmeal) with sliced chicken. Bubur Ikan, congee with fish, was also served for a short time.
2. McDonald's seafood offerings don't begin and end with the Filet-O-Fish. In Norway, the McLaks, a salmon sandwich, was served for a time, and the Ebi Filet-O shrimp burger is a regular menu item in Korea and Japan. A lobster roll is available seasonally in Canada's Maritime Provinces (and in New England.)
3. In Thailand, McDonald's offers a salad shaker based on som tam, green papaya salad.
4. In Australia, the ambitious-sounding McPavlova is a meringue disc topped with soft-serve and passionfruit coulis.
5. Kosher branches of McDonald's exist only in Israel and Argentina. Argentina also boasts the only McDonald's outlets in the world that char-grill rather than deep-fry their patties.
6. In Costa Rica, you can get a positively decent-sounding breakfast of pinto gallo (seasoned rice and beans) served with scrambled eggs and pancakes with butter and marmalade.
7. With most sandwiches, Finnish customers can replace the buns with slices of rye bread.
8. In France, wash down your grilled cheese Croque McDo (pronounced mac-dough) with a glass of Kronenbourg beer. From time to time, a marketing campaign called La Saga des Fromages swaps out the usual cheddar with slabs of Reblochon or Tomme.
9. Phillippines' McSpaghetti pairs spaghetti in sweet tomato sauce with frankfurters and grated cheese.
10. McDonald's tried, and failed, to interest the Polish in the McKielbasa, their take on the national sausage.
What variations have you come across or sampled on your travels? I myself ordered a lot of Greek Macs when I was studying in Russia during the Athens Olympics--not because I especially liked Micky D's take on the gyro, but because the limited-season item was the easiest thing on the menu to pronounce.