Columnist Kenny Thapoung examines Parisian fast food restaurants.
You’re welcome, readers. I broke my anti-fast food diet just for you. Congrats for making me fatter.
In a city like Paris, food isn’t called food. It’s legit cuisine–elegant, pristine and impeccable. Sometimes the plates resemble art masterpieces so much so that it looks too perfect to touch-until my stomach says otherwise.
There’s nothing classier than seating myself at an intimate café, ordering a crème brûlée and people watching between classes. But truth be told, for the past week-and-a-half I’ve been dying for a gourmet cheeseburger.
Even though they’re considered “fast-food” places, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway are all sit-in, café-style establishments. Kick back, relax and enjoy your meal without worrying about where your meat really comes from.
With 1.50-Euro coffees and its location right down the block from my school, I had to try it out. Trust me, this McDonald’s stomps all over the one across from White Hall. With two floors and tiles that don’t have after-frat sludge caked on, it’s no surprise I wasn’t squeamish walking inside.
Cheeseburgers, double cheeseburgers, “French” fries, Big Macs–all the classics are there. Of course I would go right when the business men are all taking their lunch breaks, but what’s this? A machine that let’s me order and pay without having to wait in line? Heck yes! I present to you the McDonald’s of the future.
But what scarred me from Parisian McDonald’s was the absence of the only acceptable drink to accompany any Happy Meal: orange Hi-C. No, I don’t want a Sprite, nor do I want that pulp-infested soda you call MinuteMaid. Give me my orange Hi-C or give me death. Or in this case, a No. 5 beer.
I miss the TECH Center’s Starbucks. The employees are super friendly and always know what they’re doing. And sometimes I’d be able to sneak a free venti cup of cinnamon dolce (employers, look away).
In Paris, the numerical prices appear the same, but remember, it’s in euros. One stomach-stuffing crêpe at a corner crêperie is the equivalent to a tall latté.
Wait, there’s no French translation for Starbucks sizes? Yep. Order a grande Americano, and it’s perfectly normal. And while you may be accustomed to a nice chocolate chip banana muffin on your way to Anderson Hall, Parisian Starbucks have cakes that will make even Buddy Valstro from “Cake Boss” quiver. Needless to say I’ve been late to class on more than one occasion to sneak a bite.
Parisian sandwiches are heaven. You can’t look around my school without at least seeing three people munching on some sandwich from one of the 10 delis around the school, myself included.
While everyone savored every glorious bite from their one-of-a-kind sandwiches, I made a date with Subway. My pick: bouef en tranche (roast beef slices). I could’ve gone for the cheaper sandwich-of-the-day (2.63 Euros), but I wanted to get my fill for my money.
Nothing about the sandwich-making process differs from the U.S. They pop your bread, meat and cheese into the oven, and you tell them what condiments to put on. Note: Know your Subway condiment vocabulary, or you’ll end up with peppers on pickles. Yum.
After this week, I’m back on my strict Parisian diet of cheese and bread. Offer me a Big Mac and expect a fist to the face.
Don’t waste your time splurging on these quick-bite joints. When abroad, expand your food horizons. As for me, I’ll head to the Indian alley or a three-course 9-Euro meal for lunch and get a nice chunk of salmon with white wine for dinner. Be jealous.
Kenny Thapoung can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.