4.307 Bean Royale


8 (Fri) November 2013

Bean Royale


at Burger King (Abu Dhabi International Airport)

-Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-


Conference in Egypt: Day 7 of 7

In transit.  Flying back to Seoul via Abu Dhabi from Cairo, where I attended the 1st Expert Consultation on Public Health Law in the Eastern Mediterranean, hosted by the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO).  First time in Egypt, first time in Africa.

At the conference, I was struck by how comfortable the regional participants were speaking in English, even though it’s their second language after Arabic.  Because the higher education systems in the region are still largely underdeveloped, students pursuing upper degrees all go abroad, typically the UK or US, where they’re immersed in the language for at least 4 years, probably much longer, so their ability to communicate in English at an academic level is nearly flawless.

By contrast, because Korea has a decent system in place, most students choose to stay home, which is fine, but the difference shows in international situations.   In that sense, Korea now seems to be a victim of its own success.


While waiting to fly out of Cairo International Airport (CAI), I was happy to encounter McDonald’s, which can usually be relied upon to offer something unwholesomely fun.

The McArabia is a McDonald’s product.  Pita bread sandwich containing a meat patty of either chicken or lamb, plus lettuce and tomato, mayonnaise sauce.  Launched 2003.  Available at stores across the Middle East.

Faced with the enviable dilemma of getting the chicken or the lamb, I got both.
I appreciated the functional packaging.
McArabia Chicken (2.5): soft and squishy bread was nice; chicken was dry and bland, somewhat compensated by the fat slice of fresh tomato, loads of lettuce, and garlicky mayo.
McArabia Kofta (2.5): same as the above but with lamb, which was also dry though a bit more tasty; screamed for hot sauce.

I look forward to trying the Chicken Big Mac next time.


Transiting through Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), I was disappointed to find only Burger King and no McDonald’s.  At times, I do enjoy a Whopper, but here I was hoping for something more interesting, like the McArabia.

Burger King did in fact offer a Chicken Whopper but I went instead for Bean Royale, which just sounded sillier.

I look forward to trying the Chicken Whopper next time.

Come to think of it, I should just order everything and eat the leftovers on the plane.

Rather unimaginative with deep-fried bean patty, processed American cheese, chili sauce, tomato slices, toasted sesame seed bun, but otherwise nothing inherently objectionable.
The patty was crispy on the outside but mushy inside, with chunks of beans and bits of vegetables, all suspended in a pasty filler; kinda bland, with hints of cumin and other spices.

I’m wondering if perhaps fastfood is analogous to the point above about education.  Burger King UAE and McDonald’s Egypt, for example, probably don’t have the capacities to develop new products on their own, so they adapt existing items from larger markets or depend on some regional R&D center, either of which likely has invested significant efforts to carefully design items that would appeal to a wide range of customers.  Burger King Korea or McDonald’s Korea, on the other hand, operating in a market big enough to justify independence, compelled by the general Korean obstinance concerning food, unaware of their incapacity to create a competent sandwich, insist on going it alone, usually to disastrous/laughable/shameful results.

* * * *

On a final note, totally unrelated to food, I’d like to share the playlists of songs that listen to when traveling, specifically upon departure and arrival:

DEPARTING from Korea

– Takeoff: “Come Fly with Me” – Frank Sinatra


– Landing: “Money for Nothing” – Dire Straits (timed so that the opening guitar riff kicks in when the wheels hit the ground – major adrenalin rush)

– Taxiing to the Terminal: “Across the Universe” – The Beatles; “Top of the World” – Carpenters

– Disembarking: “I Burn for You [live – from Bring on the Night]” – Sting

– Getting through Immigration/Customs: “Somewhere over the Rainbow ~ What a Wonderful World” – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole; “We No Speak Americano” – DCup w Yolanda Be Cool; “Peter Gunn Theme” – The Blues Brothers; “Machine Gun” – Commodores; “Hey Ladies” – Beastie Boys

– Walking out the Gates: “Smooth” – Santana w Rob Thomas

– Securing Transportation: “Soul Bossa Nova” – Quincy Jones and His Orchestra

– On the Ride into the City: “Desert Rose [demo version]” – Sting


– Takeoff: “Raiders March” – John Williams

ARRIVING back in Korea

– Landing: “Back in the USSR” – The Beatles

– Taxiing to the Terminal: “Back in Time” – Huey Lewis & The News; “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong

– Disembarking: “Air on a G String” – Dominic Miller

– Getting through Immigration/Customs: “Cello Suite 1 in G (prelude)” – Yo-Yo Ma; “The Sounds of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel (January 1992, arriving in New York following winter holiday in Korea, on the subway back to my dorm room at Columbia, on my trusty CD Walkman, I listed to this song (I was into 60s folk rock at the time); a couple weeks later, I watched The Graduate for the first time, which includes a remarkably similar scene featuring Dustin Hoffman; since then, I’ve almost always listened to the song on my way home from a trip abroad)

– Walking out the Gates: “Soulful Strut” – Young-Holt Unlimited

– Securing Transportation: “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

– On the Ride into the City: “Bring It on Home to Me” – Sam Cooke

The point is, listening to “Raiders March” on the flight out of Cairo made the entire trip worthwhile.  “Desert Rose” in Abu Dhabi was also very cool, even if just in the airport.

(For more details re food, see WHAT)

(For more details re venue, see WHERE IN THE WORLD)

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