If you spent your youth with the McRib, you're just happier than a hog in slop right now with the re-launch of that sandwich at every US McDonald's franchise. I admit it: I liked them as kid, but I've since learned about real barbecue, and welcomed the news with a shrug.
All the same, I caved in to the hype yesterday and tried to get one at a South Bay location. My first one in close to thirty years, and what happened? Sold out at 5 p.m. What the hell? It's a vast Faux-Q conspiracy, isn't it? I'm on to your little scheme to froth demand, Mr. Ronald McDonald.
McDonald's would have pulled off a much bigger marketing & PR coup if they did a nationwide rollout on old favorites from other corners of the globe. For instance, did you know McDonald's sold crab cakes in their Maryland restaurants, or that you could order roasted green chiles in their New Mexico stores? For a corporation that practically invented global uniformity, they tip their hat heavily to local markets and regional food favorites. Here are five of the better ones.
1. The McLobster Roll, New England.
Those lucky Mainers can get lobster rolls every day of the year. Hopefully better than the one at McDonald's, but what's not to love about chilled, chopped lobster meat, mixed with a little mayo or melted butter, and placed in a butter-grilled, top-loading New England style roll? So what if McDonald's version is a little dumbed-down and the lobster meat is chopped so fine it looks more like tuna fish salad? They're still lobster rolls, and dammit, we need more of those here in SoCal.
2. Beef Fantastic, Hong Kong.
The name is a Cantonese pun on the word "fan," which means rice. It's no longer a permanent item, but neither was the McRib in the US. So as long as we're uncrating the archives, how's about a gluten-free teriyaki beef sandwich for the McDonalds here? Picture a toasted "bun" of seasoned rice cake holding teriyaki beef, grilled onions and lettuce.
3. Teriyaki McBurger, Japan.
That's pronounced "makku baagaa," and I've eaten this while living in Japan. Teriyaki is mainstream enough that Americans would like this sandwich. The teriyaki sauce serves the same function as the BBQ sauce on a McRib, flavoring the usual grey McPatty and giving it a palatable color.
Never mind the Engrish noun-before-the-modifier syntax. Ebi is Japanese for shrimp, and it's a panko-breaded patty of shrimp and surimi served with Thousand Island dressing. Shrimp is America's most popular seafood, so bring us the McShrimp Patty and the cute spokesmodel (chosen for her name, Yuri Ebihara), McExecutives! And if you won't do the McShrimp Patty, then get SpongeBob in the kitchen and release the McCrabby Patty!
5. McAloo Tikki, India.
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Hey Ronald! How about some vegetarian options beside salad and fries? The beef-free restaurants in the Indian market make a sanitized version of the street food Aloo Tikki. It's a spiced potato and pea croquette on a bun. Even as a carnivore, I'd be all over that if they'd only spare me the 20-hour flight to Mumbai.