For many around the world, watching Pulp Fiction for the first time provided a cataclysmic shock. Learning that a Quarter Pounder from McDonalds is known as a Royale in France shook the world people knew, and threw out all the safe, established truths they clung to so desperately. If even Macca's could be so different in different cultures, what else might be?
Well, brace yourselves, as this goes way beyond what a Quarter Pounder is called. Take a dietarily ruinous global tour of McDonald's restaurants, and there are some big shocks amongst the Big Macs, such as…
The Chicken Maharaja Mac
With India being a predominantly Hindu country, and cows being sacred in Hinduism, beef is not a commercially viable (and in many states, legal) option for a Big Mac. When McDonald's first opened up in India, the beef was replaced with lamb. But now the magic formula has been struck, and the patties are made of chicken. Gone too, however, are the pickles. In India's version, there are jalapenos, and the usual mustardy-mayonnaise "secret" sauce is replaced with a fierier habanero alternative.
The McDouble Chili Cheese
The spicing things up thing continues apace in Germany, where the menu features the McDouble Chili Cheese. Predictably enough, this involves a few jalapeno slices being thrown in, plus a fantastically unappealing-sounding "chili cheese" sauce.
The Teriyaki McBurger
One of the Japanese variants also throws in some jalapenos and – as can probably be guessed from the name – a teriyaki sauce. But the main surprise is that the burger ditches beef, plumping for pork as the patty meat instead.
Poland also gets it own slight derivation. The Wiesmac ("country burger") is to all intents and purposes a Quarter Pounder – but the twist is that it comes with a horseradish sauce instead.
Available in Sweden and a few other European countries, this forlorn-looking whelp of a burger is little more than a couple of slices of cheese and a slice of ham, slapped between two halves of a burger bun. For some inexplicable reason, however, the bun is turned inside out and toasted on top.
The Denali Mac
When the name of North America's highest mountain was changed in 2015 from McKinley to Denali, a major change had to be made to Alaskan McDonald's menus too. The McKinley Mac became the Denali Mac, although the greedy guts local take on the Big Mac still continued to advertise itself under the "Everything is bigger in Alaska" slogan.
The Denali Mac is essentially a Big Mac, but with two quarter-pounder patties. That means it weighs in at a hefty 824 calories, and you may want to skip going large on the fries…
The Greek Mac
Imagine all the key components of a Big Mac, then take away the bread. Then, so that you're not picking bits of lettuce off the table, shunt them inside a half-folded pita bread. As a final concession to the local palate in Greece and Cyprus, change the normal sauce for a tzatziki, and you've got your Greek Mac.
To all intents and purposes, the McArabia is the same as the Greek Mac, albeit with chicken patties instead of beef. The other difference is that the tzatziki sauce is left behind in Greece, replaced with some garlicky concoction. The McArabia is available, unsurprisingly, in several Middle Eastern countries.
The Middle East also plays home to the Mushroom. In a region where beautiful, flavour-enhancing bacon is a no-no, they've had to find something else, and it seems throwing in mushrooms and caramelised onions is the way forward. It's all topped off with a black pepper mayo, and the beef is certified Angus. Well, in the UAE it is, anyway.
The bifana is Portugal's national sandwich, and it's little more than pork in bread. Traditionally, this is stewed pork, but a lot of places use grilled pork instead. And McDonald's has joined the latter with its McBifana. In doing so, it has kept things very simple. It's two pork patties, shunted inside a hard, semi-crusty roll, and with a slightly sour sauce.
The NYC Benedict Bagel
Quite what it has to do with New York City (apart from being an adulterised bagel) is left unexplained, but it's essentially the Maccy D's take on eggs benedict. That means a rasher of bacon, one of those brutalised contorted eggs that McDonald's specialises in and some creamy hollandaise sauce inside the all-important bun. And where will you find it? Rather randomly… it's New Zealand.
Turkey's twist on the classic Quarter Pounder is to make it kofte-style. And that means patties made of spiced mincemeat, in order to ramp up the flavour somewhat. This can only be applauded, and should be rolled out worldwide, pronto.
NEW EPISODES: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater
To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.