Fast Food vs Local Food

We were wandering through Oslo without a map, lost as could be toting twenty pound packs on our backs. After the events of the night before, Jacquie and I were officially homeless in Norway with low funds and and no working phone. She and I bunked at her friends house instead of staying with our couch surfing host, and this friend was supposed to be setting us up with another place to stay that night. But we had no way to contact him. Things looked rather grim.

After wandering aimlessly through the city for a couple of hours, hunger began to set in. We had bought some food the night before but did not expect becoming homeless. Every local restaurant we came to charged an arm and a leg for the smallest of meals. A burger was the equivalent of 12.50 euros! That’s not the way to eat on a budget. The street food and corner store food was cheap ish. Two slices of good sized pizza came to 75 Kroner, which is about 8 euro. Sadly though, the pizza wouldn’t have been very filling.

On top of trying to find food, Jacquie and I desperately needed wifi.  Without internet, she and I would not have a place to stay for the rest of our three nights in Oslo.  What could give us cheap food that would fill us up and provide free wifi?

Burger King.


We were able to get a double cheeseburger meal for 45 kroner (roughly 5.00 euro) and mooch the free wifi.

Jacquie and I sat in that Burger King for at least two hours trying to get in touch with her friend, eat, kill time, and look up where we were in the city.  I screenshot maps of the city on my phone, and pieced together where exactly she and I were supposed to go to meet her friend. That day, Burger King saved our lives.

There is nothing more frustrating than going to a new city and only eating fast food. I hate it. Our family road trips are notorious for eating McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Zaxby’s. Pleading with my parents while on the West Coast to try more local places, I was shut down with the answer of, “We need to keep moving and save money.” I completely understand that argument. Fast food is exactly that. Fast. While pushing ourselves from Seattle to San Francisco in a matter of two days stopping to see sights and relax, fast food would be the best option. At the same time though, think of the local cuisine we missed out on because we failed to take an extra 30 minutes to stop and eat. We saved what, maybe 20 bucks?

A local fast food joint. Irony? San Francisco - 2013
A local fast food joint. Irony? San Francisco – 2013

Here in Europe, I do my very best to eat locally as often as possible. There are so many dishes here that are not in the States, and if I didn’t take the extra time to stop and try them, I would miss out on one of the most important parts of traveling.

In Belgium, we struggled through sloppy French to order fried calamari and mead. In Sweden I ate at my roommates house a local dish called Flying Jacob which is made out of bacon and bananas. In Switzerland, my friends and I munched on fondue and potatoes. In Ireland, my taste buds have savored Shepherd’s Pie.

Eating Fondue in Geneva, Switzerland - 2012
Eating Fondue in Geneva, Switzerland – 2012

All of these local dishes helped to make my experiences in the countries that much more special.

So is there any shame in stopping off sometimes for a quick burger or a cheap taco? No, I don’t think so. Especially not when the fast food joint offers free wifi. Most places in Europe and around the world either require you to pay for wifi or don’t offer it at all. I have been in a personal experience where the difference in wifi and no wifi literally saved my hide.

It’s all up to your personal taste and mode of travel.  If you are trying to move as fast as possible and save some money, then maybe fast food is your best bet. If you are a slow go, then eat up that local food!

I would recommend trying to do a good balance of both. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with stopping off for a quick burger to satisfy your hunger. But that’s just me. What are your thoughts?

5 thoughts on “Fast Food vs Local Food

  1. I always try to have local food as much as possible, even if that means having street food. I don’t usually try to avoid the big fast food chains but local fast food is definitely something that should be tried I think. A kebab in Turkey would be considered as fast food here and really you cannot visit Turkey and NOT have a kebab.

  2. THIS IS AWESOME. This post makes me so proud of traveling human beings. That’s what traveling is around – EXPERIENCING the country. I hope you’re having the most amazing time and that your tastebuds are going crazy with all the goodness (including Burger King 😉 – I know when I went to Amsterdam last year I had Burger King on more than one occasion because, although not local, I NEVER have fast food back home so it was okay!) Speaking of local food – have you been to Holland and have you TRIED the poffertjies?!

    1. !! I’m glad you agree!! BK is so tasty sometimes too. haha!! I’ve heard of poffertjies, but didn’t get the chance to try them. All the more reason to make another trip back to Holland 😉

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