McDonald's menu items you can't buy in the U.S.

What is McDonald's to you? That's probably a question with as many answers for as many people as McDonald's serves meals in a day, but we're sure a few are likely to come up and again and again. McDonald's is cheap. McDonald's is quick. McDonald's is delicious. McDonald's is disgusting. McDonald's is… well, it's just McDonald's. It's Big Macs and small tables and that clown guy who creeps us all out just a little bit. You know what it is.

It's a safe bet, though, that what first springs to mind when you think of McDonald's probably isn't noodles. Or poutine. Or mashed potato burgers. That, however, is the reality for consumers across the world — from countries as distant as Malaysia, Japan and India to some as near as Canada — who, every day, have the option of strolling through the doors beneath those golden arches and ordering up what can only be described as the hyper-capitalist, fast food equivalent of all that weird stuff Willy Wonka made. So put away your humdrum fries, your McChickens and your quarter pounders; you're not going to be needing them. Here, there be monsters.

Fake truffles on real fries

Truffles seem to have seen something of a burst in popularity over the last few years, thanks in part to their status as a rare and expensive commodity that's as difficult to get hold of as it is delicious. And with black truffles selling for prices as high as $95 per ounce, what better ingredient to introduce to a burger establishment that charges an average of $4.72 to each of its customers?

Yes, this wonderful idea can be accredited to McDonald's Singapore, who, in 2015, introduced their own brand of truffle fries. Just like in all the finest Tuscan restaurants, the truffle seasoning actually comes in a little packet with your fries for you to shake on yourself. Before you go rushing for your private jet, however, think about this: the perceived status boost behind eating truffle-flavored stuff has led to all sorts of imitations which pale in comparison to the real thing. Truffle oil, for example, is a chemical-based copy of actual truffle, and that stuff does get served up in fancy restaurants. Frankly, we're tempted not to trust something McDonald's of Singapore throws on their fries and tells you is made of truffles, because, well — spoiler alert — truffles don't exactly constitute a significant portion of the local flora.

Pasta broth that will probably kill you slowly

"There's no better way to start the day," McDonald's Hong Kong tells us, "than with a warming bowl of mini twisty pasta, with a fresh egg and mixed veggies in hot chicken broth. It's not only tasty, it's good for you!"

There's a lot to dissect, here. Firstly, we'd suppose that there definitely are better ways to start the day than with a bowl of pasta, egg and brothy veggies from McDonald's. A bagel, maybe. Or toast. Or, if you're after some local flavor, any of these things. And we've got to guess that we'd take issue with the tasty bit, too, considering the meal itself looks like something a 5-year old would be given to put in a plastic oven. Not to mention that, with 42.9g of carbs and 2010 mg of sodium floating around in all that broth, we'd hesitate to call it "healthy", either. But hey, at least the egg is fresh.

Super sweet spaghetti

Egg pasta and fancy-pants fries, though, are pretty low-key menu items compared to some of the Frankenstein-esque mischief that McDonald's cackling food scientists have concocted in their menacing, gothic laboratories over the years. Enter the chicken McDo with spaghetti, a "dish" that is as inexplicable and audacious as it is, presumably, disgusting. Served in the Philippines, the chicken McDo with spaghetti (never going to get tired of saying that) consists of a fried chicken drumstick complimented by a type of sweet sauce with some spaghetti in meat sauce on the side. One assumes that it is the result of of somebody who has never been to Earth languidly watching a number of bad Hollywood movies and deciding, right there and then, that this is what humans must eat.

The chicken McDo with spaghetti, according to SoraNews24's taste test, is "sweet, sweet, sweet and sweet" and proof that "Mickey D's have done their homework" with regards to appealing to the tastes of Singaporeans. But, then again, their taste tester also claimed the rice option is the perfect serving size "for women," so they may not be the most stalwart authority on this one.

When prawn met macaroni

A disclaimer, in case this is all becoming a bit much for you: It doesn't really get much weirder than this until we reach the mashed potato burger. For now, though — the prawn and macaroni croquette burger hails, perhaps unsurprisingly, from Japan. It is, apparently, a highly popular dish over there, and is made up of a fried croquette stuffed with mac, cheese and prawns, topped with an egg sauce and placed between two buns. An alternative version comes with added cheese and a demi-glaze sauce.

According to SoraNews24 (motto: "bringing you yesterday's news from Japan and Asia, today"), McDonald's suggests that this burger is paired with their limited offer tomato cream fries seasoning. Considering their article was published in 2016, however, and that this burger only appears on menus toward the end of the year, it would seem that yesterday's news is actually, in this particular case, a year ago's news. As it stands, McDonald's Japanese patrons are going to have to wait a little while to get their hands on it again.

Alpine noodles

Ah, noodles. They're the fries of the east; the delicious, stringy foundations upon which much of Asian cuisine is built. Since at least 2000 B.C., Asiatic peoples have made, cooked and eaten them to the extent that they are nothing less than a vital, staple food to billions of people across the eastern world. It seems only fitting, then, that McDonald's would choose to roll out their McNoodles in the true spiritual home of the noodle, Austria.

Yes, it is in the shadow of the Alps, whilst presumably clad in lederhosen and pirouetting to the gentle rhythm of the oom-pah band, that you'll find the treasured McNoodle. The McDonald's version of this dish consists of a noodle bowl topped with chicken, vegetables and either sweet and sour sauce or curry. According to the restaurant's product development scientists, they worked intensively for over a year and a half on developing the McNoodle, a period of time that, even if we're being generous, is far, far too long to spend coming up with something Chinese monks invented 4,000 years ago.

The McCurry Pan (and lots more)

In 2012, as part of one of those occasional attempts that some corporations often make to appear "ethical" or "not entirely evil," McDonald's decided to appeal to the world's 375 million vegetarians by opening a single all-veggie branch of the restaurant in a small city in northern India. On the menu at this branch (which is actually vegetarian for cultural and religious reasons more than anything, but let's forget that for a second) is the McCurry Pan, a rectangular dish made from dough and topped with curry sauce, thyme, basil, oregano, chicken, bell peppers and cheese. Since Hindus shun beef and Muslims avoid pork, this chicken-centric dish meets everyone's approval — even if it still isn't what many of us would call vegetarian. 

Elsewhere in India, McDonald's offers such menu items as the McAloo wrap (a potato and pea patty with chipotle sauce) and the Chicken Maharaja Mac (grilled chicken, smokey sauce and cheese), both of which — goddammit — actually look really, really tasty. You win this time, McDonald's, but, we warn you, the chicken McDo still remains fresh in our memories.

Three things that never needed to come together

Sometime in the middle of January 2012, the official McDonald's Twitter account posted a short tweet to its millions and millions of followers. "DYK," it asked, "you can get a Pineapple Oreo McFlurry in McD's Colombia?"

What was their reason for posting this? Was it a kind of grotesque boast; a way for the company to show to the world just what they were capable of building? Was it a warning? "Buy more fries or we'll bring the Pineapple Oreo McFlurry to a store near you?" Or, God help us all, were they actually trying to entice people into visiting Colombia — a land which is filled with beautiful rainforests, lined by amazing coastlines and home to a vibrant, thrilling culture — solely to taste this affront to nature? Nobody can really know for sure. All we can tell you is that we're pretty sure you're better off without it.

China's foray into surrealism

Everything about this raises so, so many questions. There's the very existence of the mashed potato burger, of course, that's a given — just who it was that decided potato should be the best thing to place between two buns is something of a mystery to us, but whether their career in food development has any kind of future really should be up for discussion, too. Perhaps more baffling, though, is the fact that it came about as part of McDonald's China's "Manly Man" campaign, which is apparently aimed at "young urban meat lovers."

What is it about mashed potatoes that screams "meat lover" to you? Are the mashed potatoes made from cow innards? And why do urban meat lovers get priority in this bizarre, satanic triage, while their rural counterparts are left in the dust? Oh, and are we really still doing marketing campaigns which revolve around "it's X, but not for girls!" This is such a mess. Do better, China.

The Prosperity Burger, and that's not a joke

We've got to give credit to McDonald's Malaysia, though, for possessing the sheer cynicism and audacity it requires to name something the "Prosperity Burger." According to the restaurant's website, the Prosperity Burger consists of a beef or chicken patty slathered in black pepper sauce, topped with onions on a sesame bun. They suggest that you complement it with some Twister Fries (credit where credit's due; curly fries are the tops) and a glass of Prosperity McFizz, which sounds a little bit like what the Monopoly Man's line of champagne might be called.

But wait! Hold off on your sly digs and your snarky witticisms for just one moment! Because if this article, which was commissioned and paid for by McDonald's Malaysia, is anything to go by, the Prosperity Burger is literally the best thing to have ever happened to humankind. It's a little nugget of pure rainbow bliss that instills people with bouts of fervent Malaysian pride, sends them into small fits of bliss in which they fail to spell-check their social media posts and causes them to purchase the meal compulsively, with little regard for their own financial situation, over and over again throughout the day. So who looks stupid now?

An Indonesian specialty

In case you're not aware, bubur ayam is an Indonesian dish which consists of rice porridge served with shredded chicken, vegetables, soybean, broth and soy sauce. It's a popular street food in Indonesia, but can be found in establishments as far-ranging as hotels, cafes and, yes, McDonald's.

The Bubur Ayam McD is little different to the variety you'll find everywhere else in the country — it's got the porridge, it's got the chicken and it's got the veg (spring onions, sliced ginger, fried shallots and diced chilies). The only real difference is that it also contains just under half of your recommended intake of salt and masses of carbs, protein and fat, to boot. "Just like mum's cooking!" claims the website, which appears to have been written by somebody whose mother spent their childhood trying to slowly murder them via sodium poisoning. Also, porridge can be called a lot of things, but "mouth-watering" isn't one of them.

Cold Spanish soup

We're moving further into more sensible territory, now. Bubur ayam is an Indonesian dish in the Indonesian chain of McDonald's. Similarly, gazpacho is a Spanish dish in a Spanish chain of McDonald's. It makes sense, doesn't it? We're certainly a long way away from China's mashed potato monstrosities and whatever the hell the chicken McDo was.

Gazpacho is a surprisingly awesome dish which originated from the Andalusia region of Spain. It's basically ice cold tomato soup, flavored with garlic and onions. When served as a starter for a larger meal (preferably with some pepper slices, diced tomatoes and cucumber thrown in for zest), it really does become one of those dishes that turns out far better in execution than it does in concept. The McDonald's version, rather unappetizingly, is served in a plastic bottle rather than, say, a bowl, but we suppose we ought to at least give them credit for not loading it with sodiu— oh, never mind. ¡Disfrútalo!

Good ol' poutine

Poutine is one of those curious things that nobody outside Canada really understands, despite the fact that Canadians really, really love it — to the point that some consider it their finest invention. It's a real simple thing: fries covered in cheese curds, topped with gravy. Plenty of variations exist, of course, but that's the basic gist of it. The dish arrived at Canadian branches of McDonald's back in 2013. Let's take a look.

The cheese appears to be in curd form (tick) and you can't really go wrong with gravy (tick, by default), but we have to take exception to the idea of McDonald's fries being used — poutine should be made from thicker fries, closer to what you'd see served with battered fish in the UK, and not the thin, crispy salt sticks that McDonald's prefers to offer. As far as regional McVariants go, however, things here could have been far worse.

A classic, reinvented

"This is Greece, baby!" Isn't it just? The Greek Mac is exactly what it sounds like: a Big Mac gone Adriatic. Two beef patties are topped with white yogurt sauce, onions, tomatoes and lettuce and served in a pita. There's not a lot to be pithy about, here — it's what McDonald's are known for selling, only with a little regional twist to spice it up for the locals. In gratification terms, it's a classic; the Citizen Kane of making your food look all foreign.

Our one complaint about the Greek Mac is that it really ought to be made of lamb or goat or pork or something, but this is just nitpicking. Critics seem to have found the Greek Mac decent, but nothing special, meaning we can also tick it off as also being exactly as good as anything the restaurant sells in America. Oh, come on. You know we're right.

Swiss shrimp

Switzerland. The land of mountains. The birthplace of the cuckoo clock. The cradle of chocolate. And… the home of shrimp? McDonald's Swiss branches have all sorts of specialities that you won't find in the USA, including the Magnum McFlurry, the Corn Salad and the Beef Deluxe (which is served on Paillasse bread!), but most (or, y'know, least) impressive of all has got to be the shrimp.

It's fried, expensive and comes — should you so choose — with cocktail sauce on the side. We're not really sure what else to say, other than that. It's shrimp, isn't it? You know how it tastes. You know McDonald's, too, so you can probably extrapolate from that how this particular shrimp will taste. And if you can't, that's fine too — just go to Switzerland and try it. They've even got loads of other stuff you can see while you're there, like trains and chalets. It's pretty cool.