Europe Hotels Articles

March 29, 2010

Are fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King on the way out?

Fast food and American culture are as synonymous as my country (Denmark) and Hamlet. To be or not to be fat and lazy pretty much sums up what the rest of the world envisions when conjuring up the wide angle lens picture of the average American. Fast food is unhealthy, no secret there and it would be hard to deny its convenience but why is this cuisine ( I use this term loosely here) such a predominant force in the daily diets of Americans. After all, we certainly have our share of McDonalds, Burger Kings and the lot in Europe, but the industry pales in comparison when compared with its hold on the general populous here.

The food is greasy, overcooked, the quality is practically non existent; any derogatory adjective you can think of will aptly describe at least one of the numbered pictures on the board. So what is the apeel. Well, for starters its quick and easy, not that many people want to spend what little free time they have after work preparing a proper dinner, nor do most want to spend the time at evening or worse, in the morning making a brown bag lunch.

So the answer is simple, pull into the drive through , order a bag full of grease and you have dinner for the family. Here is where Europe differs slightly, though the differential is quickly closing. People actually like to cook in Europe and a good many know how, every day after work instead of pulling into the drive through I would stop of at the grocery store and grab whatever ingredients where necessary for what I wanted to make. I would sometimes spend the last hour or two of work thinking of what I wanted to make, day dreaming about food and all the possibilities. I am not the norm, for 10 years I worked in a French restaurant as head chef before picking a less stressful, better paying career. Still, a lot of my friends with typical office jobs took great pride in their cooking and that they prepared dinner almost every night. I don’t really see that here, maybe if someone watched the cooking channel the night before and became inspired or other random whimsical fancies but not a daily act.

To be fair there a few good reasons why Americans are more likely to pick up dinner or lunch at a drive through that don’t involve obesity or laziness. First of all fast food is fairly expensive in Europe, I could make 3 or 4 full meals for the same price as a trip to Micky dees, Also, a full work week in Denmark consists of 37 hours, overtime is not really that common at least not more then 5 hours a week or so. Over there I worked maybe 43 hours a week, here I have done 80+ , that’s a pretty big difference, enough to warrant the occasional drive though dinner.

Fast food is easy, cheap and inexplicably gross, what could better symbolize American pop culture, instant gratification that comes cheap and easy, only to leave you sick and queasy moments later. The truly sad thing is that many Americans actually like, no not like, love fast food. They are partially addicted to it, and why not it contains more chemicals then crack. Back home this food is considered a guilty pleasure, something to be a bit ashamed of, along the lines of secretly liking Pauli shore movies. Not exactly a crime, though far from a source of pride.

In earnest one thing I will not pin on fast food is American obesity, while the food is undeniably unhealthy its also not meant to be eating on a regular basis and even if that’s the case its not necessary to use the drive through. The least a fat guy can do is to walk up to the counter, look the pimply teenager in his greasy face and order the triple whopper with extra cheese, a gallon of soda and barrel of fries on his own two fat feet.

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