Le Croc McDo, Ruis Feast or Gazpacho? Translating and Localizing

It’s called comfort food for a reason, and many of us seek comfort in the familiar when we travel abroad. In any language, the Golden Arches seem to transcend borders and language barriers, understanding just how we crave (and love) our cheeseburger with fries. And McFlurry.

A Big Mac is a Big Mac

McDonald’s certainly puts thought into translating and localizing its menu for it global outlets. Some menu items are identical to their U.S. menus and are simply translated into the local language when necessary. These items include the Big Mac, fries (but, for example, called American Fries on the German menu), McFlurries and other favorites. They cater to anyone who would like to find the traditional American McDonald’s experience abroad.

Would you like Gazpacho with that?

In order to cater to culinary and taste preferences of specific regions abroad, McDonald’s enhanced their traditional menu by truly localizing the flavors:

  • Finland

The Ruis Feast (which translates as Rye Feast) is a burger made using the typical Finnish dark rye bread, a popular element of the local food culture. Though it probably looks healthier than it actually is, there is a vegetarian option too.

  • France

Le Croque McDo: McDonald’s France’s version of the Croque Monsieur, with 2 slices of bread toasted with melted cheese and ham (McDo is what the French call McDonald’s). All French products include the article before their name, giving them a certain cachet. Big Mac becomes Le Big Mac. “Le mec” (pronounced exactly like Le Mc…) also means “The Guy” in French– skillfully localized. Check out Le P’tit Hot Dog, advertised as an “American style bite”, though it is not on the U.S. menu.

  • Germany

Every day is a bit of an Oktoberfest at McDonald’s Germany, where the menu includes the Nürnburger with three traditional Nuremburg sausages, crispy fried onions and mustard sauce. The Veggieburger offers a healthier alternative, with a protein-packed, plant-based quinoa burger.

  • Hong Kong

At McDonald’s in Hong Kong, you can start your morning with a healthy bowl of mixed veggies and egg with twisty pasta in hot chicken broth, a side of fresh yellow corn, or indulge in fruity frappes and pie a la mode.

  • Israel

This extensive menu contains some rather unconventional items for McDonald’s, such as the McKebab (Kebab Tortilla) and the finely chopped vegetable salad.

  •  Italy

The Chicken Country (please roll your ‘r’ in Country) is a thin sandwich with a slice of grilled chicken, bacon, and spinach salad. New on the menu is the McVeggie, made with a vegetarian burger, tomato, arugula and a real scamorza (mozzarella-like) cheese. This menu also offers an impressive variety of salads.

  • Mexico

Diners at McDonald’s Mexico can cool off with a light and refreshing  Mango Piña, with mango and pineapple mixed with yogurt. (Could I transport one to me through my computer on this hot Atlanta day?)

  • Morocco

The KBM (Kefta Bayd Matecha): offered in Morocco and throughout the Middle East, is made with seasoned ground beef, an egg, and spicy tomato sauce. Or take a dive into the Salade Pêcheur, meaning fisherman’s salad, made with fried fish strips and other fresh seasonal ingredients.

  • Spain

Gazpacho Soup is on every McDonald’s menu in Spain (how could a real Spaniard go without it?) It is served in a small bottle for convenience and quick consumption. Beyond the classics, such as the Hamburgesa con Queso (cheeseburger), the McPollo (chicken burger) and the McFish, McDonald’s Spain offers a Chicken Apple Cesar. Buen Provecho, everyone!

A Café Crème from a Swiss McCafé, anyone? Like many European McCafés, it offers a range of indulgent desserts, from cakes to a slice of cheesecake. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just imagine that this coffee I’m stirring comes with a view of the Swiss Alps. And perhaps a Nürnburger, for later.