I’m a total sucker for fast food, as I’ve said SO many times. I guess you would think that a French food writer might be something of a snob. I’m a bons, the opposite of a snob. Snob backwards, inside out, and sideways. I could eat street food all day long. And often do.
So, it was no surprise to anyone that I mandated several stops at French McDonald’s. And guess what. French McDonald’s offers a croque monsieur, a “Croque McDo.” How cute is that? Even better than the fish stick Happy Meal I get in London.
So, I did the Croque McDo Happy Meal, and this was no American Happy Meal. The croque monsieur had a very ooey-gooey Swiss cheese that melted into almost a fondue, between a crisply toasted set of bread slices that seemed like a Thomas’ English muffin without the nooks and crannies. And the ham was actually my favorite part. Great just shy of smoky flavor, good texture. Trying to be grown up about my little Happy Meal experiment, I chose cherry tomatoes instead of fries, cantaloupe instead of cookies, and Evian instead of Coke. All of them were offered, which I couldn’t believe. The little ham and cheese sandwich was great, and I loved that I could get everything else fresh and healthy. The cherry tomatoes were the best part–fresh, and bursting sweet and tart in my mouth.
Apparently, McDonald’s has been undergoing a kind of makeover in Europe, according to Mr. English. I seem to remember something in the back of my mind telling me that French people hate McDonald’s, as a symbol of American cultural aggression. So McDonald’s has changed its color from red to green, and started sourcing produce from the region. (Check out this link to French McDonald’s–it’s hard to recognize a green Micky D’s!) Ads on TV were touting that McDo’s famous fries were made only from French and Belgian spuds. Even McDo is cashing in on the locavore trend in France!
I also noticed that French McDonald’s offers the Big Mac on a whole wheat bun. They do specialty sandwiches, like the Comté burger, written up to high praise on Serious Eats by my colleague Kenji Lopez-Alt. French McDonald’s is celebrating French food by topping speciality burgers with regional toppings, like real AOL Comté cheese, rosette de Lyon salami, et cetera. I love French McDonald’s. Using what was once a pillar of American influence and change as a place to celebrate and exalt French food. I’m lovin’ it!