Canadian software engineer James McGowan is so passionate about McDonald’s that he’s traveled to 53 different countries just to sample their regional dishes. In the past four years, he’s reviewed over 300 items from the chain’s wide-ranging regional menus on his blog, Traveling McD’s.
James started his McDonald’s tasting trips in 2005, sharing pictures of every meal with friends and family and posted his first review of a McD’s regional treat in October 2011, when he wrote about a taro and Oreo McFlurry he had tried in Macau. Since then he’s reviewed exotic McDelicacies from countries like Russia, Malaysia, Tahiti, Greece, Germany, and Qatar. Interestingly, he doesn’t always have to wait until he travels to a country to try their McD’s menu, as fans of his blog sometimes send him food to try to Bangkok, where he currently resides.
Over the years McGowan has tried several interesting items like creme brulee McFlurry in Singapore, salmon burger and teriyaki rice in Thailand, tofu nuggets in Japan, churros in South Korea, and Poutine in Montreal. He’s enjoyed most of them, except for a few dishes like Aloha Heat – a pineapple burger topped with a chili jalapeño relish that his sister-in-law brought back from Hong Kong. Sadly, the burger was missing the relish as well as the special bun.
“They also went and absolutely ruined the burger by placing an almost unbelievable amount of mayo on both the top, and bottom buns,” the 28-year-old wrote on his blog. “It’s almost like the staff knew something was wrong, so they felt the answer to the problem would be to pour half a bottle of mayo on the burger to try hide the missing toppings.”
Chocolate Topping McFries (Japan)
McGowan also expressed his disappointment with the lychee pie in Kuala Lumpur, giving it a zero-star rating. “The flavor was far more acidic than a pie filling should be, and just didn’t go well with the fried crust at all,” he wrote. He didn’t like the chicken McNuggets in Singapore either, or the “pretty disgusting” tuna pie in Udoni, Thailand. He found the homestyle chips served in Copenhagen “overly chewy and too tough,” while the McFloat in Malaysia was too warm and too sweet. The Bubblegum McFizz in Singapore was worse though, with a syrup so thick that it got stuck in the straw.
When contacted by Wall Street Journal, a McDonald’s spokesperson refused to comment on McGowan’s negative reviews. “We love that we have fans of McDonald’s who enjoy our food while traveling the world,” she said.
Bubblegum McFizz (Singapore)
Of course, McGowan has written plenty of positive reviews as well. He recently enjoyed the prosperity burgers on McD’s Asia menus, giving them a 3.5 star rating. The matcha McFlurry in Singapore, the French 280 Recette Fromagere in Paris got 4.5 stars, while a cheese panini in Tahiti earned the highly elusive 5-star rating for its “nice French roll” and cheese that was “deli sliced, rather than processed.” But a tasty “Texan burger” scored only 4 in his books because the hash browns under the patty seemed “included as an afterthought.”
Taro Ginkgo Pie (Thailand)
McGowan’s writes detailed blog posts, making sure to add photographs, receipts, and other useful information like calorie count. Although he claims that nearly two million people have visited his blog, it generates a very small income that’s barely enough to cover the cost of one meal a month. He pays for travel out of his own pocket, making the best use of frequent flier miles. He also tries scheduling long layovers when he’s traveling for work, so he can leave the airport to eat at the nearest McDonald’s outlet. “I am just lucky enough that I can work anywhere there is WiFi as I don’t need to go into an office everyday,” he said.
Mushroom Potato Soup (Philippines)
In the near future, McGowan plans to visit more outlets in Oman, Mongolia, Qatar, and Vietnam. “Strangers say, if you’re fortunate enough to go to all these countries, why do you waste it on McDonald’s?” he told The Wall Street Journal. “I like sharing online. People seem to enjoy it. And I don’t gain weight.”
Indeed, the steady stream of McD’s food he’s eaten in four years hasn’t resulted in any weight gain. “In fact, I weigh less now than I did when I started,” he said. “No special diet, but my wife and I eat healthy, home-cooked meals whenever possible. We also avoid deep-fried foods as much as we can.”
Seafood Balls (Taiwan)
“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke,” he added. “This is my vice.”
Photos: Travelling McD’s