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Land of the Fries ‘n Bun
Japanese Big Macs Don't Taste Like Sushi
Well it’s still called a Big Mac in the Land of the Rising Sun. Sorry, John Travolta. No laughs to be had here in Kyoto. But what the heck is the difference between a Big Mac and a Double Cheeseburger; is it just the extra bun in the middle? Trying to read Japanese is of course hopeless when there’s several character alphabets involved and there’s no “sounding things out.” This has got to be the world’s hardest language. And the person in front of me is just now wrapping up so no time to whip out the camera feature of Google Translate for help. Should I be ashamed as an American to not know the difference between these menu options? No, I arrive at pride instead. Fast food is usually my last choice stateside. So whatever. A Big Mac it is.
Having spent most of the day ambling along the “Philosopher’s Walk” visiting a half dozen Zen temples and gardens, contemplating my existence or my non-existence or both, just how is it that I ended up at a McDonalds deep in thought about whether a Value Meal in the U.S. is still only the $5 that I’m paying now overseas for a Big Mac, large fries, and a medium drink? I was aiming for sushi. In fact, as I was trying to clear my head of all thoughts and worries throughout the day and settle into a deep Zen state of mind, my stream of consciousness was trickling in flotillas of sushi…boat after boat after boat. Tuna. Eel. Roe. Salmon. Horse. Horse?!?
Well, how I ended up here at McDonalds all had to do with some more mundane matters that I could bore you with having to do with a couple of buses rides, an aborted subway mission, some stuffy museum curators who don’t allow their patrons to charge their dead cell phones in their stately outlets, matcha ice cream joints with no seating, and underground mega malls where one loses all sense of direction (please could someone just tell me in which direction the sun rises on Basement Level 2F?!?). But I won’t bore you with all that.
Lars, I know you must be laughing. On our 2018 trip to Japan, he was jonesing for a burger after a week of full immersion into Japanese cuisine. If only you were here now, you would’ve finally had the chance to get that burger. I just wouldn’t be able to tell you whether a Big Mac is better or worse over on this side of the Pacific. One thing for sure though, a value meal here doesn’t come floating in on a boat with wasabi and slices of fresh ginger as passengers.