Monday, February 20, 2017

McDonalds, Portugal

Whenever we travel, Ojan and I like to stop by McDonald's or Burger King, to try out the local specialities (you do know that these places have special items in other countries, right?).  I really love seeing what local items fast food chains add to their menus to appeal to the locals.

Some have been quite good, like the Croque McDo at McDonald's in France, or, ZOMG, the Belgian waffles at Burger King in Germany.  So now, before I travel, I scope out the menus at the McDonald's and BK in the countries we are visiting.  Portuguese fast food didn't have much that appealed to me though, besides perhaps the "Pancakes n'ice", aka, pancakes with soft serve ice cream and sauce.  Ojan however wanted to try the local specialties, particularly after being pretty sick of highly mediocre Portuguese food the entire trip.  I was more than happy to go along to take a bite of everything ... and then stop by yet another bakery on the way back to the hotel and load up on goodies for myself.

The McCafe section of the McDonald's in Portugal actually was fairly interesting, as it even had pastel de nata, but, given how many pastries I was consuming on a daily basis, and the fact that I was going to just go to a bakery on the way back to the hotel, I didn't bother try any.  Next time, sorry.

Let's just say ... McDonald's in Portugal met my expectations.  Nothing really for me, but Ojan seemed to enjoy the experience.
Sopa à Lavrador.
"More than vegetables, a soup enriched with red beans, ham and pasta elbows. The right amount of garlic, onion and olive oil gives you the traditional taste, reminiscent of the soup grandmother. It combines well with ravenous appetites."  -- translated by Google translate.

Did you know that Portugal is one of the highest consumers of soup in the world?  I did not.  The McDonald's menu in Portugal has 4 soups total, including the national dish, caldo verdo (however they were sold out of it the day I was there).  So Ojan opted for another one, Lavrador, a bean soup with veggies and elbow macaroni.

Amusingly, this item caused his order to take quite a while.  "The soup is just being made now", we were told.  A few minutes later, a staff member came walking out with a huge pot of soup.  Ojan and I both laughed as we've never really seen a real pot of soup at McDonald's.  I guess they *do* take their soup seriously in Portugal!

Anyway, I tried a bite.  It was ridiculously hot, scalded my mouth, burnt my tongue.  Sue-worthy level of hotness, if we were in the US ...

It was also ridiculously bland.  It seemed to have decent ingredients though, plenty of kale (!), cabbage, and cubes of carrots and onions, decently cooked elbow macaroni, soft beans.  But the broth?  So flavorless.  I wrote, "flavorless broth", in my notes and moved on.

When Ojan tried it, he declared it, "The blandest soup I've ever put in my mouth."

So, impressively bland, which is even more impressive given that it seemed to have actual ingredients in it.
The other local item on the menu is the McBifana, the McDonald's version of the bifana, basically, "the national sandwich".

Apparently bifana is sold basically everywhere, including food trucks, mall food courts, cafes, and snack bars, generally as an item you grab and eat, not a sit down meal.  In the non-McDonald's world, it is a a soft Portuguese roll, with pork sauteed with garlic, and generally mustard or hot sauce on top.

We didn't ever have bifana in Portugal, so, I have no idea whatsoever if the version at McDonald's is remotely authentic.

It wasn't ... horrible.  The roll was soft, and better than a lot of the other bread I had on the trip.  It seemed many notches above normal McDonald's quality.  The pork was really strange though, it basically looked like a sausage patty, a thin cutlet, but tasted ... porkier.

On top was a creamy zesty sauce, some kind of special sauce that I didn't care for at all, but Ojan liked.

The menu had two versions of the sandwich on the menu, one with mustard, one without.  Ojan opted for with, which, it turned out, just meant that it came with a squeezable mustard packet on the side.

So, better than expected for sure, but totally not my thing.
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