Where Is The Nearest McDonalds?

Here at River Valley Lodge, it is lunchtime. Guests are coming in from morning activities, be that rafting, horse trekking, or simply having been for a walk. Others on warmer days will have spent time swimming or lazing out by the river. Many of course will not have left the building preferring to read a book, or in some sad cases, gaze longingly at their phones wishing for a better Wi-Fi connection.

It is all hustle and bustle in the Lodge kitchen. Kitchen hands have been busy cleaning up after breakfast and visiting the Lodge gardens to pick fresh ingredients for lunch salads. The Lodge chefs have a free hand regarding the type of dishes that can be created for this midday meal. Many will feature local produce.

Each day is a surprise, which is great if you are like me and try to end up at the Lodge each lunchtime. On any given day there could be any of the following. Freshly made pizzas, lasagne, home baked breads, all sorts of pies, nachos (beef or bean), paella, salads, soups, quiche, risottos, wraps, plus a few old favourites such as Macaroni cheese. If you still have room, then there will be a collection of homemade cakes and biscuits. Many of the ingredients will have come from the Lodge gardens.

The lunch food goes out as people who have been adventuring come in. No cabinet food here. The smells coming from so many dishes are so good!

Yes, I am totally biased, but I am so often disappointed when I eat elsewhere. It is hard to beat affordable meals with a base of fresh ingredients lovingly prepared by passionate people.

A Profound Profanity is Uttered

So, it is somewhat jarring when I hear a voice asking a tour guide, “When are we leaving? How long to the next stop? Is there a McDonalds there?”

I feel as if a profound profanity has just been uttered in our house. The profanity of “Where is the next McDonalds?”

This Statement “Where is the Next McDonalds?”, Says So Much

What “Where is the next McDonalds?” says is that the dominant worldwide culture, basically North American, is all pervasive and everywhere. We have been indoctrinated into this for decades, from the time we were children, and our parents and grandparents before. Of course, this cultural takeover did not start with McDonalds, rather it started with the way European and American society, explorers, settlors and even scientists saw all other cultures as inferior.

A conviction that our way (the white western way) is the only way forward.

As this culture expands and becomes more entrenched and dominant it slowly bit by bit destroys those wonderful surprises. Surprises such as regional differences in food. Surprises such as meeting people with different ways of looking at the world. Sure, there is lip service to recognising how wonderful these differences are, and they are often a key part of advertising some “exotic” destination. But when we get there, sticking with the known is the norm.

And so, we are overrun with fast food chains, most of North American origin, who not only cater to the “does not want to try anything new visitor”, but also us, the culturally indoctrinated. It is not just western style fast food style outlets, there are other examples such as the Chinese bus tours that only eat at Chinese restaurants. All these bland interchangeable food outlets would not be here unless we – that is all of us – wanted them to be here.

This Highlights Much About Ourselves and Our Society

This example only highlights on our true lack of desire to explore, to be adventurous, to look outside the norm. Sure, we travel and visit other places and cultures, but strictly on our terms. Our terms are to look at arm’s length, to stick with what is familiar and risk free.

And eventually, without us making an effort, it will all be the same, where ever you go. For many of us it is already, and we seem to like it like that. But is this really a good thing? Should we not instead value and cherish, learn and taste all those differences.

Sometimes It Is Just Not Easy

I admit, that it is not always easy to find the unexpected, to find the unusual, to appreciate the uniqueness of different places and peoples, but I believe it is critical for us to try. Only by doing that will various cultures and places retain their wonderful differences.

A bit cooler today. I think I might have some soup made from vegetables out of the garden with some fresh baked bread. Yum.

Brian Megaw


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