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food / travel

Sesame-Seed Bun Step Aside: Here Comes The 'McBaguette'

The American fast food chain’s latest attempt to adapt to local tastes may make global bread connoisseurs shudder. In September, it will add French bread rolls to its breakfast menu. And by next year…a baguette sandwich.

Mc Donald's sign in Paris (basykes)
Mc Donald's sign in Paris (basykes)

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES
LE FIGARO

PARIS – France is world famous for its haute cuisine and super-fresh and crunchy daily bread, the baguette. A lesser known feeding feature is that the country also happens to be the world's No. 2 consumer of McDonald's.

Alors! Prepare yourselves for a small revolution in the world of both fresh bread and fast food, with the introduction of the baguette on the McDonald's menu in France.

For starters, in September, French clients will be able to enjoy a French-style breakfast with fresh bread and butter and jam in the chain's 130 McCafés (separate counters offering coffee, pastries and buns.) In 2012, McDonald's will take the experience further by offering a baguette sandwich. This might be tough competition for local bakeries, especially because of McDonald's low-price policy.

The senior Vice President of McDonald's France and Southern Europe Nawfal Trabelsi explains that "during the first 15 years after McDonald's arrived in France in 1980, its objective was to export its original model and offer a little piece of America. Today we are part of French people's everyday life. Our priority is to integrate ourselves locally and to give a French touch to our original offer of hamburgers and ice cream.

"The French love the baguette. We are just progressively responding to a natural demand."

Indeed, even despite the surprising success of McDonald's in France (only the U.S. consumes more), the French still eat nine times more sandwiches than hamburgers and 60% of these sandwiches are made with baguette bread. The favorite is the traditional ham and butter sandwich.

McDonald will bake the new French bread on the spot. Breakfast represents less than 1% of McDonald's sales in France. With this new offer, its aim is to boost its breakfast sales while improving its image.

The arrival of the baguette at McDonald's represents another step in its efforts to answer the very special French food habits and to work more and more with local producers. The bread will be provided by the French company Groupe Holder which already provides the pastries for McCafé. The butter will come from the French cooperative of Isigny and the jam from a traditional producer from the Pyrenees.

Elsewhere around the world, McDonald's is also trying to capture local flavors from the Churrasco sandwich in Chile to a Teriyaki burger in Japan. In January, McDonald launched the McCantal, with the renowned cheese from south-central France, and in February the Charolais made with famous French Charolais ground beef. All that's left: McEscargot!?

Read the original article in French by Mathilde Visseyrias (subscription)

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

When Did Putin "Turn" Evil? That's Exactly The Wrong Question

Look back over the past two decades, and you'll see Vladimir Putin has always been the man revealed by the Ukraine invasion, an evil and sinister dictator. The Russian leader just managed to mask it, especially because so many chose to see him as a typically corrupt and greedy strongman who could be bribed or reasoned with.

Putin arrives for a ceremony to accept credentials from 24 foreign ambassadors at the Grand Kremlin Palace on Sept. 20.

Sergiy Gromenko*

-OpEd-

KYIV — The world knows that Vladimir Putin has power, money and mistresses. So why, ask some, wasn't that enough for him? Why did he have to go start another war?

At its heart, this is the wrong question to ask. For Putin, military expansion is not an adrenaline rush to feed into his existing life of luxury. On the contrary, the shedding of blood for the sake of holding power is his modus operandi, while the fruits of greed and corruption like the Putin Palace in Gelendzhik are more like a welcome bonus.

In the last year, we have kept hearing rhetorical questions like “why did Putin start this war at all, didn't he have enough of his own land?” or “he already has Gelendzhik to enjoy, why fight?” This line of thinking has resurfaced after missile strikes on Ukrainian power grids and dams, which was regarded by many as a simple demonstration of terrorism. Such acts are a manifestation of weakness, some ask, so is Putin ready to show himself weak?

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However, you will not arrive at the correct answer if the questions themselves are asked incorrectly. For decades, analysts in Russia, Ukraine, and the West have been under an illusion about the nature of the Russian president's personal dictatorship.

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