So it's not without some slight trepidation that I announce: I'm American, I live abroad, and occasionally, I eat at McDonald's or other fast food chain restaurants.
Please note, that, on the whole, I intensely dislike McDonald's, and when I'm in America or Malaysia I absolutely refuse to eat there because there is always a better option.
I choose to confess my obvious lack of class in visiting McDonald's while abroad in order to explain what may motivate some of the Americans who choose to eat in McDonald's while overseas.
These reasons apply to my situation:
1) I do not have an extremely strong stomach. I live in a region of the world known for delicious local foods as well as occasional high-profile cases concerning lack of food safety. Have you ever heard of the rat meat, bleached tofu, fried food coated in melted plastic, and gutter oil phenomenons? That's all real. The usual way to find out which restaurants to avoid and which to try is to get food recommendations from the locals, and even in our own neighborhood, there are a number of street stalls and food shops that our local friends caution us to stay away from. When we're traveling, or working, or otherwise far from home, I will often choose the "safest" foods I can find, because I don't have the opinions of locals to advise me, and I don't want to deal with stomach ailments instead of enjoying my time and getting my work done. Sometimes, even with as much as I know about McDonald's shady food prep practices, I perceive it as a relatively 'safe' option, given that the company extends certain food safety practices to all of its franchises.
Kung Pao Chicken and Green Beans with Minced Pork
Pan-fried vegetable egg roll
Fruit on a stick
Also, by the way, my hometown is widely considered the best place to eat in all of South East Asia, so I can get get plenty of fabulous, inexpensive food whenever I visit home--perhaps that skews my perspective about eating in unfamiliar places.
What about you? Have you ever gone for some familiar fast food when traveling outside of your home country, or are you a far braver person than I?