The mercury thermometer read “36 graus Celcius.” My frustration grew as I incorrectly stammered the Portuguese numbers to the cashier at the small kilo restaurant near my research site. I was sweaty, tired, and in desperate need of something familiar. I left the restaurant and strolled down the main avenue, lined by vendors and a seemingly endless group of crack addicts. It was then that I remembered American crack. Four bus stops, three blocks, and two catcalls later, my eyes feasted upon the Golden Arches.
It is rare that I get excited to see fast food. Those thin, floppy hamburgers with ambiguously flavored toppings are usually saved for the wee hours of Finals Week. But this was different. The haunting face of Ronald McDonald welcomed me as one of his own. Despite the English listings on the menu, I ordered “um hambúrguer com quejo” and plopped my tray down on the unsettlingly clean grey table. The burger seemed to disappear from my tray as I gazed curiously around the building. The establishment was clearly American, but very distinctly Brazilian. The restaurant was full of well-dressed children with their guardians and men in business suits. Including employees, only one other person darker than me was present. And at a steep R$15 (approximately USD$8), it was one of the most expensive meals I had eaten in over two months.
Parallel to Kelly’s observations McDonald’s is definitely considered globalized, but may not be considered a global restaurant. There were definite similarities to connect the two establishments, and I agree with Watson that western influence has had a significant impact on Salvador, Bahia – but each country’s manifestation remains autonomous. I was surprised by how elitist the restaurant seemed, and doubtful about how McDonald’s expensive sandwiches appeal to the average citizen of Salvador. However, I am proud to report that the ensuing heartburn from my Brazilian “hambúrguer com quejo” was just as bad as my cheeseburger from the states. Bem-vindos ao Brasil, I’m lovin’ it.