Two years without a Big Mac? Easier said than done.


Living abroad will make you do funny things. It’ll have you making friends with individuals you never would at home, it has you going on adventures you wouldn’t ever think you would, and it has you eating things you never thought you’d eat.

Yeah, sure, I’m talking about crazy foods like insects, intestines, pigeons (which is on the lovely platter pictured above), duck tongues, and chicken cookies (yes, that’s a thing). But I’m also talking about fast food: Burger King, KFC, Subway, and McDonalds, the last two of which were my personal vices in China. Here at home, I rarely eat McDonalds, and Subway even less. One, because there are so many other options for a burger or sandwich these days. Two, because of the social condemnation I’ll face from all my foodie friends and my healthy community. Three, because they’ve been making too many movies about how fast food will kill you these days.

But when I was in India, and I had a horrible stomach thing where I couldn’t keep anything down, the only thing I craved and could stomach was a 5-pc box of chicken nuggets. And it was so comforting, so delicious, so familiar – as good as a bowl of chicken noodle soup, I swear. There we go, my memoir might just be called “Chicken Nuggets for the Soul, A Life of Eating Abroad“.

When abroad, not only are these places and the food they serve more familiar, but I firmly believe they actually taste better than when eaten at home. At these fine overseas establishments, I look around and things are cleaner, people are happier, it’s an all around more pleasant of an experience.

no mac map

So today, when I came across this pretty awesome infographic that charts countries without a McDonald’s, my heart felt a little heavier. Africa definitely has got some catching up to do. And then I zoomed in, and then, I’m not going to lie, I gasped a mini gasp of disappointment when I saw that Tanzania was indeed blue – a deep, dark, empty shade of blue. I don’t think I’ve ever stepped foot in a country that did not have a McDonald’s…

Luckily, I know for a fact there are Subways franchised in Tanzania. Don’t worry, it’s only when I’m abroad.

infographic c/o hejorama


china or bust

Shanghai, 1990 and 2010.  photo: Mamie Young
The DiploMan emailed me the picture above a few days ago.  The photo was taken from roughly the same location in Shanghai, twenty years apart.  Unreal.

Coincidentally, Diane Sawyer is covering China’s massive growth and westernization this week on ABC’s World News Tonight.  From one feature story:

…Chinese engineering is speeding ahead in other areas, outdoing American efforts. By the end of next year, a train from Beijing to Shanghai will take just four hours. It will cover a distance equivalent to that between New York and Atlanta, a trip that takes Americans 18 hours…

For more fascinating articles head on over to the ABC World News Tonight website this week.  At the very least, you’ll know what to look for when the Chinese take over the world (lots of McDonalds’).