Dia dhuit (hello)!
I know that a huge part of studying abroad is trying all the cultural foods Ireland has to offer (even when that involves just different variations of potatoes and meat). But there’s a lot that can be learned about the eating habits of different countries by going somewhere that’s familiar and seeing how it compares to what I’m used to back home. It’s a great way to learn about a country’s attitude towards food that doesn’t involve breaking the bank, especially if you’re a broke twenty-one-year-old like me. So, I decided to venture fifteen minutes down the road to my *new* local McDonald’s and see what Ireland has to offer.
McDonald’s is always there if you need something quick to eat, something that will never change no matter how many time zones you cross. This McDonald’s is always packed, and I found that people were content to sit and enjoy their food at the table. There was a drive-thru, but it was seldom used. Back home, it would never cross my mind to go inside of McDonald’s, let alone eat in one. Why would I do that when the convenience of a drive-thru is right in front of me? This is something I’ve noticed throughout my three weeks in Ireland. Restaurant culture is more laid-back and there is a huge emphasis on eating as a communal and social activity, and McDonald’s was certainly not an exception. Back in America, I would go out to eat with my friends all the time, but I would always feel rushed to get the bill or risk inconveniencing the restaurant staff. As for McDonald’s? That was more of a “sit and eat in an empty parking lot” kind of activity with my friends.
The second thing I noticed was the––not one, but two––menus on the self-kiosk that offered meals under 600 and 400 kcals (kcals are used interchangeably with calories, it’s just a European thing). As far as I know, there is no “under *insert calorie number*” menu offered by American McDonald’s. Salads and wraps are always buried under a bevy of meal combos, and I think there was a recent push to add calorie counts to the menu. I’ve always known that Ireland, and Europe in general, is more health conscious than America, but seeing these menus––in a McDonald’s of all places––solidified that. The portions are smaller: a “large” in Ireland is equivalent to a medium in America and I had to ask for a side of salt with my fries. The side of salt really blew my mind, since I’m so used to having fries overloaded with salt (which I’m totally okay with, I’m a salty gal at heart). Overall, the differences between Irish McDonald’s and American McDonald’s aren’t drastic. However, Ireland’s mindfulness towards healthy eating and cultivating a convivial restaurant environment is something I admire. I’ve grown attached to their Chicken Selects, though, which is the one thing I never expected to miss when I eventually fly home.
Thanks for reading!
Dia dhuit (hello)!