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McArabia: Ethnic Cuisine or just the SAD in Disguise?

August 3, 2011

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Fast food has long been associated with the Standard American Diet and is often blamed for the rising obesity rate and failing health nationwide. Obesity isn’t just a problem in the United States, though. Global obesity rates are on the rise, and the correlation with the growing international fast food market is hard to ignore. 

According to a press release from Yum! Brands, Inc, owner of such fast food favorites as KFC and Taco Bell, they are opening an average of 4 new fast food restaurants outside of the United States every day!

As fast food chains continue to take the world by storm, it is interesting to see how they change their menu to accommodate the tastes of the country in which they are opened. McDonalds does a particularly good job of fast food-ifying cultural favorites.

As reported by How Stuff Works, here is a look at a few of the international menu items presented by the golden arches:


A grilled chicken or beef sandwich served on flat bread can be found in many Middle Eastern countries.



bacon potato pieThe Bacon Potato Pie

This is found in many countries in Asia. It is just like the familiar American apple pie, but is instead filled with bacon and potatoes.



edi filet-oThe Edi Filet-o

A deep fried shrimp burger, likened to the fish sandwich in America, is popular in Japan.



lakse wrapThe Lakse (fish) Wrap

A deep fried fish wrap sold in Finland and Norway.



mcrice burgerMcRice Burger

A meat patty sandwiched between two crispy rice patties is very popular in Hong Kong.




A traditional Mexican breakfast turned fast food. The meal consists of 3 English muffins, topped with refried beans, white American cheese and Pico de Gallo.


shake shake friesShake-Shake Fries

A popular menu item in Asia. Patrons buy an order of fries, dump them into a bag with the contents of a flavor packet and shake until fries are coated. Popular flavors include seaweed, French onion or salt and pepper.

While McDonalds’ attempt to embrace international cuisine is admirable from a diversity perspective, can a grilled chicken pita still be considered part of Middle Eastern culture when it is filled with trans fats and given a Mc-Name? It seems like, in reality, these so-called international menu items are just creative variations on the Standard American Diet that is largely accredited with the rise of global obesity.

How do you feel about the rapid international fast food growth?  

(Photo credit: Food Network Humor, where you can see more international McDonalds menu items)