Category Archives: Food

Posts about restaurants, local delicacies and other food-related topics.

Let’s talk a little about McDonald’s.

I couldn’t resist it anymore…after going in one the other day, I decided that today was the day I needed to try McDonald’s.

Getting there was a little ridiculous.  Even though there are McDos sprinkled around Hamburg, the only one I really knew how to get to was just outside of the south end of the Hauptbahnhof (main train station).  In my mind, this worked out fine because I had to go to the Hauptbahnhof anyway to figure out which platform I should be at on Sunday (more about that later!).  So, I went; the particular U-bahn train I took dropped me at the north end of the station, right by the Deutsche Bahn platforms, so I found my platform right away.
After deciding to get lost in the station for a little while, I decided I was hungry enough that I should start looking for that McDonald’s.  I walked all around the north end of the station trying to figure out how to get out; the station was packed full of people, and through the bustling crowd it was almost impossible to tell where I was going.  So I went back to my starting point and followed as many U-bahn signs as I could, and then just walked through the U stations until I magically arrived at the south end.  Hooray!

I was starving by the time I finally made it to McDo, and I was so excited to try foreign(ish) fast food.  My original plan was to try only the fried brie wedges, but I was hungry enough that I needed a sandwich, too.  Here’s what I got:

What you see here are deep-fried brie wedges with raspberry dipping sauce and a Big Tasty Bacon burger.  Now, hear me out…I’ve had fried brie before, and it was awesome!  I knew I was taking a chance on the burger, but in the end I actually liked the burger more (edit: a smidgeon more) than the brie wedges.  I never like a burger more than any kind of cheese, much less brie…but this brie was totally flavorless and kind of tasted gross with the sauce.  The burger had tomato, lettuce, “swiss” cheese, onion, bacon and special sauce on it.  This made for almost too many flavors, although I did enjoy how sloppy it was!

I was considerably more satisfied with my choice at the McCafe a few hours later.  (I went back.  I’m only sort of embarrassed to say this.)  They have this delicious Apfelkuchen, which is what Americans might consider to be a deep-dish apple streusel pie.  Oh, was that tasty!  They have other delicious looking treats, like cheesecake and petits-fours and muffins and chocolate swirl bread.  I wish I would’ve tried the coffee…it’s a lot cheaper than some other places I’ve been.

So, the verdict: the regular menu is about as underwhelming as any other McDonald’s, but I might go back for their desserts.  Maybe.

Let’s try that again.

After the brain dump that was yesterday’s post, I decided that a few of the things I mentioned deserve a little more detail–especially since the plane rides got a big paragraph.

RE: the most delicious hot dog ever.  In the city’s major shopping promenades, there are outdoor stands called Mö-Grill that serve several kinds of sausage–among them hot dogs, bratwurst, their famous currywurst, and I can’t even remember what else.  Most of the sausages are served cut-up, bun-less, but with a brötchen (roll) or french fries on the side; the hot dog is served in a bun with toppings typical (like ketchup, mustard and pickles), slightly atypical (mayonnaise), and heretofore unheard of (french fried onions).  I guess the combination of french fried onions and everything else I listed is a Danish thing, which makes sense since we’re pretty close to Denmark here.  It’s a mountain of stuff on a hot dog, aber es schmeckt so gut!

RE: shopping, in general.  As we all know, in America, pretty much every place that isn’t a taco truck takes Visa/Discover/MasterCard for payment.  This is not the case in Germany.  Except for at H&M, Starbucks and maybe (?) McDonald’s, NOBODY takes American-style debit cards.  I heard before coming here that most places only accept cash or the German-style debit card, but I was not prepared for the intensity of this Visa shunning.
Shops tend to be very specialized here; the only thing remotely resembling a Walmart is METRO, which is pretty much a Sam’s Club copy, all the way down to requiring membership.  Clothing shops are plentiful, and there are are a couple of designer boutiques in my neighborhood, which makes going on walks very entertaining.  (Yohji Yamamoto?  Dries Van Noten?!?  Yes prease!!)  There are paper stores, shoe shops, bakeries, luggage stores, drogeries (like CVS without the pharmacy), flower shops and produce markets all over the place. The discount grocers Aldi and Lidl are exactly like Aldi in the States, which I appreciate.  These stores have pretty much every food and personal care item anyone needs to survive.  The Edeka market is our other option, but it tends to be much more expensive.  I’m glad we learned that quickly.  Liquor, beer and wine are sold in every grocery store and even in some unlikely-seeming places (like TK Maxx), but there are still liquor stores.  People here grocery shop much more often than does the typical American; because public transportation is so widely used and stores are within close proximity to peoples’ homes, it is both difficult and nonsensical to haul a weeks’ worth of groceries home in one trip.

RE: going out.  There are bars scattered throughout town, but the ones outside of St. Pauli tend not to be of the rollicking, weekend live music/party type.  Weekend revelers flock to the area for cheap food and long nights of drinking and dancing; most of the bars and clubs are situated along or near the main drag, the Reeperbahn.  The bars are smoky and packed to the gills, and sidewalks are busy with people walking from bar to bar or taking a snack break.  On weekends, the U-bahn (subway) stop at St. Pauli is busier at 4 AM than it is during weekday rush hours.  Many people stay out late enough to attend the early-morning Fischmarkt for Sunday breakfast!  I tried to do that last weekend, but succumbed to fatigue from wearing heels.  {Ladies, as a rule of thumb, never wear heels for a night out in Europe.  You will hate the cobblestones and your ankles will hate you.}
It’s hard to talk about the Reeperbahn without mentioning that it’s considered to be one of the largest red-light districts in Europe; I have not experienced that aspect of it and plan not to include it on my to-do list.  I will say, though, that women are generally not allowed in the most red-light of the red-light, and that the façades of the sex shops are of varying degrees of gaudiness and not unlike the ones people drive past on American interstate highways.  Just in case you were wondering.  (Mom, I promise I’m behaving.)

That’s enough for now…you don’t need a complete history and culture lesson in one post.  See on the left that I’ve posted the link to my “where I’ve been” map…I try to update it daily with notable places I went to.  Pictures will come eventually, I guess?