Moscow McDonald’s Memories

The closing of the world’s largest network of free toilets is mourned by this Moscow blogger.

I saw the threats like gathering clouds on the horizon, but somehow I was not emotionally prepared for the headlines stating that at least four of the Moscow McDonald’s had been shut down by the Russian health authorities.  This included, of course, the oldest and largest McDonald’s in Russia located on Pushkin square in downtown Moscow.

I’ve never met anyone who was proud of eating at McDonald’s.  And every single Russian I have ever spoken to has gone into great lengths about the chemical makeup of the offerings of this worldwide eatery.  It is curious that parallel to every Russian’s deep and very vocal skepticism of Ronald’s House that there are invariably long lines at each and every McDonald’s in Russia, and in fact, finding a place to sit and eat is a challenge during any regular meal hour.
Why do I eat at McDonald’s?  It’s not for health reasons.  But it’s cheap.  It’s conveniently located.  It’s fast food- almost no waiting, well, at least once you get through the line to the cash register.
I haven’t had an office for the past couple of years.  But I do regularly meet with folks at a certain globalized food chain’s outlet on Pushkin Square.  Why?  Well, it’s convenient, cheap, and fast.  Also, might I add, the McKafe really added a certain cosmopolitan flair to more “high end” meetings.
But it was with the aid of modern sleuthery that the health authorities seem to have ascertained that McDonald’s is well, unhealthy, and have shut it down.  I read why, but somehow I couldn’t get this loud voice out of my head that said, “IT MAKES YOU FAT”.  
They say that the shutdown is temporary, but what if it’s not?  What if this situation is for forever?  Well, I found a conveniently located, cheap, and fast servicing eatery across the street at Pushkin Square and have moved my office there.  But I would be remiss not to take this moment for some reminiscence.
1.  King of the Table:  This is a victual based rendition of the classic King of the Mountain.  Once you’ve loaded your tray with special sauce based meaty goodness, the next step is to sit and eat.  If you’ve come with a friend, you have them find a seat for the both of you, memorize their order and then they will text you as to their location and you can simply come and sit down with your breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  If you’re alone, they did eventually make a bar like situation where you can feel more comfortable elbow to elbow with fellow consumers.  But if you’re with a group of four or more- good luck.  It is incredibly difficult to find four seats located adjacently.  The problem with the game of King of the Table is that it requires strength, speed, quickness and agility- all of which are only dulled by repeated visits to the Golden Arches.
2.  The Necking:  The amount of oxytocin being released at any given moment at any Moscow McDonald’s is incalculable even with the aid of modern scientific equipment.  I suppose there is a reason for this.  Young folks live with their folks and their folks’ folks, and where to go for intimate anonymity coupled with financial thriftiness?  That’s right.  And these boys and girls are not just going for a little peck on the cheek.  After an order of fries dipped in 20 ruble ketchup, they have the washing machine going on between their collective mouths.  It’s kind of like a really bad smell.  First you are appalled, but then you get used to it and don’t even notice.
3.  The Food:  I’m not sure, but I think the food offered here in Russia is different than in other places.  For example, for a long time we had the “Beef-a-la-Rus” which was, surprisingly enough, a hamburger, on a dark bread bun.  Then there was “the Rio” during the World Cup, which was a “Big Teisti” with what was purportedly a Brazilian sauce.  Personally, I can vouch that the Rio’s sauce was better than the Big Teisti’s.  Then there is the “Shrimp Roll”, the “Chicken Roll” and the “Fish Roll”.  The Fish Roll, from what I could gather was a blended Filet-o-Fish served in a thin bread shell.  Last but not least, there was the recent introduction of the “Greek Mac”.  I kind of feel like I should not tell you about the “Greek Mac”, and we should just let it be Russia’s dirty little secret, but anyway here it is:  the Greek Mac, and I feel somehow feel racist even telling you this, was a Big Mac served in a pita shell, but with Greek sauce.  I am deeply ashamed to admit that I tried it once.  It tasted a lot like a Big Mac in a pita shell, but with Greek sauce.  The problem was that the twin hamburger patties were not stacked, but were shoulder to shoulder and holding the one in the shell while partaking of the other proved to be more than a Whopper-sized challenge.  
Will Ronald return?  Only time will tell.  I guess that just leaves us here in Moscow with the more healthy options of Burger King and KFC.

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