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True Confession.

 Illustration by Gunseli S.


As the title suggests, I have a confession to make...

I don't know how comfortable I feel about publishing this considering that I live in France. But I think I'm just going to come out with it and share something deep, dark and personal about myself.

The years that I have lived here, I have picked up a dirty habit; something that I never, I say never do in the States. For some reason when I'm in Paris, I do it more often than I'd like to admit.

Please don't judge me...

From time to time, like once every six weeks, I eat at McDonald's, or rather, Chez McDo...there, does that make it sound fancier? 

Yeah, I didn't think so. Quel shame I feel for not always dining at local, independent restos, and for supporting the corporate monster that's responsible for everything that's wrong in the world. Okay, that's a little dramatic but still. I bet all my hipster readers are horrified right now, just horrified. I don't blame you, sometimes I can barely even look at myself in the mirror...

Yesterday morning, waking up with a bit of a headache from one too many glasses of Saturday night celebratory crèmant, I was in desperate need for my ultimate hangover cure of a New York deli egg sandwich on whole wheat toast, a large hazelnut coffee and the Sunday Styles section. Try ordering that in a Parisian brasserie. The closest thing to my hangover cure I can get here in Paris is an Egg Muffin at Chez McDo (I'm still trying to make it sound fancy), a caramel latte and reading the few excerpts of the Styles section that The New York Times posts online...many hours later.

If this is one the "prices" I have to pay for living in Paris, I'll take it...I've seen worse.

After consuming about a gallon of water, I threw on my cat-eye sunglasses to hide my watery rose-tinted eyes, wrapped my head in a plaid cashmere scarf, pulled up my pink wellies and with a heavy alcohol-soaked head, I made my way down to McDonald's for breakfast on a rainy autumn morning. For 3 euros, I treat myself to their formule tonique; a cup of orange juice, a caramel latte and an Egg McMuffin. In short, sheer hangover cure bliss.

I arrived at exactly 9 am, the time when the McDonald's in my neighborhood opens and watched the employee - still in her street clothes and jamming out to a "featuring Pitbull" song on her iPod - just start up the machines.

Great. It was going to be one of those experiences.

After waiting for about ten minutes in silence beside another customer who didn't find this at all bizarre, the one and only staff member working, finally got herself situated. She was suited up in her uniform (which is green and yellow here in France), had her headset on her ears, and all of her machines were powered-up. We were finally able to order. Thank God.

I ordered my formule tonique and waited patiently for my cure-all to present itself in all its fattening glory. Several minutes later, my tray was placed before me and in my Jackie-O-meets-walk-of-shame get-up, I sat myself by the window to enjoy my meal. I opened the wrapper of my sandwich and before sinking my teeth in to it, I looked down and noticed that it wasn't cooked. Like at all. The cheese wasn't melted, I nearly choked on the powder that I inhaled on the barely toasted muffin, and don't get me started on the state of the egg patty. It was completely inedible.


I hate the predicament when put in when you're forced to send food back. You don't want to sound like a bitch because you know it's not the server's fault, but you're also hungry and are slightly annoyed that you now have to wait another fifteen minutes or so for a replacement. Because I hate sending food back, most of the time I just deal with it, but this couldn't be ignored. The food was simply not cooked. Putain.

I went back to the line and waited with my raw sandwich for about ten minutes. Once at the counter, I politely explained to still, the only girl working there, my situation.

"May I please have this cooked?" I asked the 14-year-old high school student extra politely by using the formal "puis", and polishing it off with a smooth s'il vous plaît.  

"What's the problem?" she asked with a blank stare, and might I add, in a less polite manner.

"Well, this isn't cooked," I then opened the wrapper to present the proof.

She looked down at the cold sandwich, took it out of my hand and stormed off into the kitchen, screaming to someone to redo it. I guess she wasn't alone...

Several minutes had passed and she reappeared with my sandwich and placed it on my tray. Before I could thank her, she cut me off by shouting over my head and asking the customer behind me what he wanted. Literally. Voulez-vous quoi?!


With my new sandwich, I went back to my table, took a sip of my coffee that had now cooled off and began to open the wrapper. While my sandwich was nice and piping hot, I saw that it was flat, completely flat. Okay. Ice cold, I can't do, but flat? Sure, why not? I tried to see beyond aesthetics and with full intentions to eat it, I attempted to pull the wrapper off but couldn't because it was now completely stuck to the muffin. What the hell did she do to it in "the back"? Sit on it?


So as much as I hate returning food the first time, you can imagine my aversion to going up a second time. Am I alone here? For the second trip, I decided to be all French and just skipped the line (a little trick one of my favorite expat friends encourages me to take advantage of here in Paris). I held up the sandwich with two fingers like a dead mouse and this time with a bit of a tone, I asked for a normal egg sandwich. I wanted to "s'il te plaît" her ass, but I don't have the balls to be that rude.


I have never really been snippy in Paris, I don't see the point, but this time I was annoyed. What did she do the sandwich that made it so flat and hot? Did she fart it into submission? Gross. She came back several minutes later, told me that I could keep the squashed mcmuffin as a "gift" (merci?) and gave me a new one. I opened the new one at the counter and just like the first one, it was cold. I let out a laugh out of pure frustration, took both of the sandwiches, threw them away and did what I should have done from the start; went to Franprix. I brought a dozen eggs, bread, weird French bacon and a carton of OJ. I now have homemade egg mcmuffin material for the next week. Ca va.

The lesson I got out of this: Stop going to McDonald's and/or lay off the Saturday night booze. If I had to give up just one...which do you think it would be?

53 comments:

  1. We eat sometimes at McDo too, but it is always crap here in south. I recall eating good big mac's in Finland but here in Avignon it's just badly made. Is it french thing that it's always made with hurry and the service you get there is bad?

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    1. They actually COOK the meat in Finland...;)

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    2. Duchesse - is the meat not cooked here in France? Aaaaah explain!

      Sini - I wonder if it's different in the south than it is up here in Paris. There is certainly a huge difference from McDo in American vs. France and apparently in Finland. Oh heck, I'm sure we're eating the same crap nationwide! Maybe we should give up and make our own food!

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  2. Oh, McDo. I don't remember the last time I had it in the States (years ago for sure...), but I just had it last week here! From time to time, I will eat it here, but it's still very rare. Though I do find it tastes better here, and I love those deluxe potato things!

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    1. okay, so you get what I'm talking about! I'm not completely gross that I give in and McDo it "up" here in France meanwhile haven't touched the stuff in America for probably about a decade now!

      And it DOES taste better. Oh Shannon, you just validated my whole point...and perhaps my entire existence. : P Merci ma belle!

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    2. De rien! It's just less greasy here!

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  3. This is so funny. But I feel bad for you because we all have our hangover cures and when you need it, you need it, so this third time is a charm but wasn't business is just no good. I'm sorry. At least this weekend was good hangover/duvet cover weather. And on a final note, please stop eating at Chez McDo, no matter what you call it, it's still gross. x

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    1. Just because there isn't a McKale burger doesn't mean it's totally bad for you, and it tastes different in France! I stand by that!

      I'm such a pain in the ass. I know...


      But you're probably right...it'll probably be my last trip to McDo....this year. : P !


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  4. "I was in desperate need for my ultimate hangover cure of a New York deli egg sandwich on whole wheat toast, a large hazelnut coffee and the Sunday Styles section" ... haha I love it, that is so me, except I'm looking at the Sunday arts section!

    Funny you mention McDo ! I was just talking with my cheri about how I'd like to try it. I haven't been yet in France! Will skip the breakfast though and try the good 'ol classic burger.

    And UGH about your Sunday morning hungover experience! I don't know how you are out at a place by 9am! I would be at brunch at O'Callaghans restaurant 2 blocks from me chowing down a bacon-cheddar burger.

    p.s. - if only they had flavored coffee! mmm

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    1. Because I'm strong-willed against late-night munchies, my hangover literally pulls me out of bed for water, food and coffee and then I can go back to bed.

      Honestly, their burgers and wraps are really good. I'm not trying to justify eating junk food! LOL! They really are good. Someone believe me! Ahhhhh!

      Tell me what you think of your dining experience!

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  5. France is McDonald's second best market outside of the US, so you're in good company. I read a huge article in the New York Times once about how it's all because they have adapted to the French market - better food and grumpy service in the traditional style!

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    1. I read that too, that France was the second best market for McDo. I would've thought it would be somewhere in Asia where they adore American culture, but guess not. France, we're on to you! You love us! Admit it!!

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  6. Franschhoek FabOctober 15, 2012

    I live in a village in South Africa which was founded by French Huguenots over 300 years ago.It has retained its French flavour (Bastille is part of our calendar etc)We do not have a McDonald's as it is a gourmet village so no fast food outlets allowed.I am embarrassed to admit it but one of my guilty pleasures when in Cape Town is a sausage McMuffin with hash brown.Shhh....deliciously awful.
    A funny story is that a few years ago our local paper ran an April fools joke insinuating that McDonalds was to open a flagship store here as our Huguenot Monument looks so like the McDonalds Arches( google it they really do)and villagers were outraged!,

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    1. Yes! You understand the joy of a McDonald's morning sandwich and hashbrowns. So sinfully good!

      I just Google searched the Huguenot Monument and you're right! Double arches, indeed! The villagers were really outraged? They didn't see the humor in the joke? People sometimes!

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  7. McDo is not really one of my vices, but I just had a greasy old kebab... Rolled back into town tonight at 8 after being out all day, too cold and tired to cook!

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    1. See, I can't do Kebab. I tried once, took one bite and gave it to my friend. To me, it smells way better than it tastes. It was a shame because I so wanted it to be good!

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    2. This one wasn't very good... I wanted chicken, but they were out, so I had to have... lamb? Mystery meat, anyway. A felafel kebab is a thing of beauty though, but maybe you don't count that as kebab.

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  8. Ewwwwww McDonald's;) But I totally understand at the same time. Sometimes, you just want something familiar. (I don't go to McDo because I'm a vegetarian, but when I wasn't, I would at times.) In Finland, my fave hangover food was a kebab or better yet, a vety (some kind of deep fried meat doughnut cut open and stuffed with ham slices, hard-boiled egg slices, ketchup, mustard and relish - pure gluttony! But it did the job, trust me!;))

    It was so good to come back to the land of customer service in May...

    Yup, good move on the hangover recipe at home:) Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands:)

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    1. Oh, well this was where I was planning on taking you. There's a really nice McDonalds on rue du Commerce in the 15th.

      You just crushed my dreams for our date....okay. On to Plan B.

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  9. Can we talk about Paris' aversion to regular bacon? What does a girl have to do for some good ol' Oscar Meyer strips of goodness?? I went to Carrefour during my first stint in Paris and picked up what I thought at the time, was bacon, albeit in block form. Needless to say, I ended up making strips of bacon that were about a half inch thick. The most horrible yet amazing thing ever!

    Funnily enough, I've felt as I was lighter after eating at McDo than I did/do out here. Blargh.

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    1. The bacon here is so not satisfying. It's like not fatty and salty enough...in other words: healthy.

      You're so right about McDo being lighter here. I don't feel like I ate a brick when I eat at McDonald's here. This only adds to my point that it is way different than it is in the States!

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  10. My son lives in Hawaii. He claims McD is not even real food: he keeps a burger and photographs it and posts the pic on his fb page - it is not rotting even after three months... GM x

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    1. I've seen those photos. It's creepy. I can only imagine what it's doing in my stomach.

      All of this talk about McDo is making m hungry....I'm terrible.

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  11. do they have breakfast menus at Quick? I can't remember...maybe you should try there if they do.

    When I was in Nice last summer I got macarons at the Chez McDo there and they were actually pretty decent.

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    1. I can't do Quick. Cannot. After reading that someone in Toulouse died and the photos of the baby mice in the grill at the Quick in Belleville...I just can't. Plus, since it's a French company, I'm afraid they're smuggle in raw egg yolks (without posting it on the menu) because that's the norm!

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  12. Hysterical, so so funny. Really good read. I'm sending it to all my friends.

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    1. Thank you so much Joseph! I'm more than happy to entertain! You know me... : )

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  13. My son works at McDonald's and comes home and tells me about the food, etc. Believe me, you do NOT want to eat at McDonald's!

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    1. Oh no!!!! Ahhhhh!

      This comment begs me to ask you to share one story? Please? : )

      I'm so curious.

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  14. We've eaten at McDo more since living in France than we ever did at home. I do wish they had a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit though. Dommage!
    aidan x

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    1. That's right, they DON'T have the Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich in all of its buttery bliss. That is a good sandwich....nom nom nom!

      Despite the comments above that McDo is HORRIBLE for me, I'm getting hungry! Just one last time...for old time's sake?

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  15. you had me cracking up! Loved this!!

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    1. Thank you so much Stephanie! I'm happy to deliver smiles! : )

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  16. @Gwan -- yes a few months ago I succumbed to the French kebab, after so many of my friends recommended their fave places in town. So good! Next: MacDo...

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  17. ELLA ! I was worried about you getting into line to return uncooked food. So glad you saw the light after the 2nd attempt.
    And horrible as it sounds, the point of loosing it and going stark raving snippy on poor customer service folks in France, is that it works. If you can't beat 'em, and all that.
    The good news is that you're now off that McDo crap!

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    1. Hahahahaha I totally thought of you and was like eff this,! I'm cutting the line!! It was a total W.W.S.D? And I did exactly what Sylvia would do!


      Who said I was off of it? Guess what I'm coming to your house tomorrow with? ; )

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  18. Whew, that's a toss up on which is worse... giving up drinking or the hangover McDo. I'm totally with you on all points here, because for some strange and unknown reason, McDonald's is better here. I think it's something to do with the fact that it's darn near the only fast-food choice from home. But really, unless you're giving up on French wine (which would be a tragedy), I don't think you can give up the McDo either. It is by far, the best hangover cure in the world. Many a morning (afternoon), in Prague was marked by the walk of shame to the closest McDonald's (or, on really rough days, the tram ride up the hill to it). I think the only thing that stops me here is that it is a 15-minute walk to the one at the station, plus there is always a huge line, and then I have to drag myself back home, and there is no elevator in this building. But if I'm going somewhere and it's on the way... game on. Or I can partially avoid the hangover and get it on the way home from the bar. That helps as well. Damn you German beer and your deliciousness!

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    1. Heather. I, Ella Coquine, vow to NEVER go off French wine even if my precious McDonald's is at stake. That's my vow, signed, sealed and delivered.

      Maybe I can make an amendment clause and say that I'm allowed to go twice a year? That seems fair...right?

      You're lucky that the nearest McDonald's is far that you are able to avoid it! Mine is outside my metro stop! The temptation tortures me...hahah not really...but sometimes it's just so easy to go in for a "quickie".

      My ass would be so huge if I lived in Germany! The beer sounds like it's just irresistible!

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  19. You went to McDonald's?! (said in a tone that expresses shock and scorn) .....without me!? ;) Even though I know that they serve some of the least healthy food on the planet, I still have to have my McDo fix from time to time. Come to think of it, it's just about time! But I would go for a fries and a burger, not for the egg McMuffin.

    Thanks for a wonderfully entertaining post!

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    1. You're welcome, MK! I'm glad that everyone was so entertained! It makes me feel good.


      A little McDonald's once in awhile never killed anyone! Enjoy your meal...and a have mini 1664 to really "take it home". Can't wait to see you tomorrow!!!!! AHHHHHHH!

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  20. Oh! I forget to say, "What's with the French bacon?" I bought some to make BLTs the other night and it was the super healthy version. Next time I'm going to Marks and Spencer for the fatty stuff that I know and love!

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    1. I still have yet to go to M&S. I should go from time to time to stock up on unhealthy English goodies! Thanks for reminding me.

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  21. boo-hoo,

    also-- 60 grams of fat.

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  22. OMG.. you crack me up! - ya... you might as well cut lines & be rude.. it is allowed :-).

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    1. Is line cutting acceptable in Norway? It seems to be the M.O here in France. I still don't get it. What's wrong with waiting in line??

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  23. Favorite line: "did she fart it into submission?" ahahahhaha I literally cracked up, that's something I would've totally said to myself as well! I hope this was your last trip to Chez McDo. Come on, Ellaaaaaaaa you're in Parisss!!

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    1. Hahahahahaha I wasn't sure to put that in because it is really gross, but you know what, that's how I talk in real life! So...I printed! I'm so glad you appreciated it!

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  24. They don't have egg mcmuffins down South so I'm so jealous of yours even if it was farted into submission :P
    But OMG... now I'm dreaming of deli egg sandwich on whole wheat toast and a large hazelnut coffee. I miss hazelnut coffee!!!

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    1. Hahahahahaha!!! I had a feeling the fart comment wasn't going to go over your head! : )

      Yes, I miss hazelnut coffee too....le sigh.

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  25. Witty and funny as usual! Keep it up!

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  26. ROFL, Mickie D's in France is the only place my mother deigns to cross its threshold because it sells both booze and salads...

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