Posted by on 21 Mar 2012. Filed under Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

No Big Mac Extra Sauce Here, Sorry!

Last night my wife, in the middle of her unexplained, once-a-month desire to eat everything in sight, wanted to go to McDonalds.  My relationship with McDonald’s throughout my life has been a turbulent, stop-start one.  As a child it symbolized everything that was good and right with the world;
a place where food (not very important) was accompanied with toys (extremely important).  Once I developed taste buds that recognized more than just sugar and toys became less important, I visited McDonalds less and less.
Eventually, after reading a few books depicting the evils of large corporations and commercial scale cattle raising, I decided I would no longer visit McDonalds.  This continued for a year or so but when you live in a foreign country sometimes the potential for a taste of home is a strong
pull, so eventually my self-imposed ban on McDonalds was lifted. One thing I need to clarify before moving forward; I know what a good hamburger tastes like.  I’ve been cooking for years, I’ve even been hired as a consultant for restaurants who wanted to improve their burgers.  McDonalds doesn’t make a great burger, I know this, but there’s a time and place for everything and sometimes the familiar flavor of a Big Mac is something I can’t resist.

Big Mac promise (c) Wacky25

The Big Mac has been around far longer than me.  Created in 1967 and nationally available since 1968, the Big Mac is one of the most popular sandwiches in fast food history.  I remember the slogan they played on TV for the burger when I was younger: “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.”

While technically that’s a list of components for the Big Mac, a more accurate version might go (with a slightly less catchy rhythm): “two dried-out patties, minimal sauce, old lettuce, fake cheese, etc, etc.” A lot of the inferior aspects of the burger I can forgive, but for me the one thing that’s absolutely essential to any good burger is juiciness.  Usually this is done by selecting the right cut of beef; at McDonalds the only way adjust for their dry patties is to add more sauce to the burger.  I learned this as a young teenager and ever since, every time I’d go to McDonalds and order a Big Mac, I’d always get extra sauce.  Then came Slovakia.
I clearly remember my first visit to a McDonalds here, and my first attempt to get a decent Big Mac.  I was in AuPark with my then girlfriend and we stopped for a quick bite.  Not speaking Slovak, I asked her to order a Big Mac with extra sauce for me.  The cashier, with a look confusion usually reserved for when a dinner guest goes to the bathroom in your kettle, eventually responded that such a request was not possible. ”Of course it’s possible” I instructed my girlfriend.  ”While adding the sauce, you just add a little more than normal.” “It’s really not possible.” she pleaded.
In the politest raised voice possible, I elaborated. “Of course it’s possible.  It’s simple.  They’re just being lazy.  All they need to do is put more sauce on than they usually do.  I’ve had extra sauce added to burgers 100′s of times.”  By now the argument had escalated past sauce into one about me raising my voice in a “restaurant”.  Angry at the acne-riddled ineptitude behind the counter of McDonalds, I left.
It was 24 hours later that I had my 2nd run-in with McDonalds.  After apologizing numerous times to my girlfriend all was well and we decided to go for dinner.  I knew where I wanted to go.  We arrived at McDonalds (this time the one near Zlaty Piesky).  I repeated my order from the previous night, with an identical response from the cashier.  I calmly and politely explained that it was possible to add extra sauce to the sandwich.  In fact, there is even a button located on the McDonalds keyboard which one would push to order extra sauce.  I explained the location of this button to the cashier who, after a minute of searching, exclaimed “I’ve never seen that before!”  She then noted “I’ll press it, but I’m not sure if the cooks will know what it means.”  I wasn’t sure what she meant.  Surely anyone could read an order with the words “extra sauce” written on it and know what that means.  Surely.
When we received the order, I gloated.  I’d beaten the system.  I’d shown you really can get what you want when you explain things in a slow and condescending enough fashion. The cashier had even gone button crazy and put extra sauce on my girlfriend’s order.  This was indeed a great day.
We got home and opened our dinners.  The sauce had indeed been slightly adjusted.  By “slightly” I mean there was none whatsoever.  Crestfallen, I decided Big Macs were no longer for me.  If I couldn’t get a decent one I wouldn’t order them any longer.
Fast forward 4 years.  Returning from a ski trip in Liptovsky Mikulas, my friends and I stopped off at McDonalds in Martin.  Standing in line, with none of the specials standing out to me, I decided to attempt to order a proper Big Mac.  Nervously I approached the cashier.  I explained, now in broken Slovak, that I would like a Big Mac with extra sauce.  Noting the confused look on his face, my wife jumped in to help.  After taking a few moments to digest what had just been requested of him and the kitchen staff, the cashier nodded and quoted us the subtotal.
At this point I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  I’d been down this road before and I knew the outcome.  But, I was slightly optimistic.  The cashier seemed willing to oblige. He walked back to the burger rack and spoke to the cooks.  A minute or two later my burger was ready.  The box had a sticker on it which stated the burger was double checked for my satisfaction.  This was an impressive operation they were running here.  Even if the burger was to be a disappointment they at least seemed to be making an effort.
When I sat down and opened the coffin the Big Mac is presented in I couldn’t help but grin.  There, oozing out from underneath the bun, was an abundance of McDonald’s special sauce.  I took my first bite and it was wonderful; no longer did I only taste dry meat and wilted lettuce.  The burger was complete, juicy and tasty, and once again all was right with the world.
Fast forward to last night.  My wife and I spent the past few days in the Tatras enjoying a mini-vacation.  On the way back to Bratslava we passed through Martin, and I couldn’t help but fondly recall the perfect Big Mac I had there.  Once home we were both too tired to cook and with the memory of that Big Mac still fresh in my mind, we decided to go to McDonalds.
We journeyed to the McDonalds on Racanska and approached the counter.  The cashier was a trainee so I was skeptical of my chances, but at least by now my wife knew the drill. “A big mac with extra sauce, please.”  ”That’s not possible.” responded the trainee.  A lengthy discussion, none of which I understood, then took place.  ”He says it’s forbidden to give extra sauce” my wife informed me.  ”I told him we would pay for it but he said it’s forbidden.”
“Let me get this straight” I started, “In a restaurant it is forbidden to give a food item to a paying customer, even if they’re willing to pay for it.”
Another discussion ensued and I was convinced that my wife, armed with the weight of my superior argument, would prevail.
Comedian Ron White once said that you can fix many things.  You can fix a car, in this case you can fix a sandwich with a little extra sauce, but the one thing you can’t fix is stupidity.  I can’t imagine the cashier was telling the truth.  I cannot imagine a restaurant would have such a backwards rule, or that a trainee cashier would be so well versed in McDonalds dogma that he’d know of such a regulation.  I don’t even see why they would need such a rule, as I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the country who asks for extra sauce when ordering a burger.  I know as an organization as a whole McDonalds doesn’t have this regulation.
So either the cashier was too stupid to extend himself a little bit to give a customer what they wanted, or the management of that particular McDonalds is too stupid to care about whether or not their customers are happy.  Once again, much like four years ago, I refused to order a Big Mac, and settled on some chicken burger abomination that left me completely unsatisfied.
If you’ve never had a Big Mac with extra sauce, you’re missing a wonderful thing.  Unfortunately, if you want to try it, you’ll have to visit Martin.

27 Comments for “No Big Mac Extra Sauce Here, Sorry!”

  1. GS

    Alan, I can’t disagree with you. Slovak customer service is quite, quite bad and it’s taking a long time to improve.
    Amusingly I read this morning an article on training ex-Soviets to use customer service at McDonalds with this delightful quote:
    “After several days of training about customer service at McDonald’s, a young Soviet teenager asked the McDonald’s trainer a very serious question: “Why do we have to be so nice to the customers? After all, WE have the hamburgers, and they don’t!””
    That sums up a lot of customer service in Slovakia. The commercial sector is improving with their service levels slowly, but you forget all the progress made when you have to use a state-run service such as the post office, or health insurance. The evil scowls, dramatic sighing, and the staff barking orders at me, the customer, sometimes make me question why I moved here.
    My wife tells me it’s because they earn so little, but I don’t accept that. A half smile along with a simple “Dobry den” makes a world of difference and costs nothing.

  2. George M

    Alan , I would love to try and agree with you but …….well this is Slovakia .

    There is no such thing as great halusky. Sorry it is vomit on a plate with bits of fried pork chucked on the top , then covered in fat ( both cheese and pork fat ) . Pirohy, is the bland and tasteless meal ever, roasted goose/duck with those pancakes, is very greasy and most foul . I have tried them all at least once …I even went to a Halusky cook off ….

    One suspects, if you like theses foods, well done or not, whatever that means, then I suspect you have had your brain numbed and been here far too long eating this dung. Perhaps you should become a policeman, like Loghead …you seem to have the managed to drop to the correct IQ .

    Slovak food is cheap and crap ….that is perhaps why everyone over the age here who is over 45 , is almost brain dead . But I do fear for the young with Ronnie McD`s !

  3. StaryJazvec

    I was here when MaccaD’s was the only place serving late nite food in Blava post pub, unless you wanted to risk your health with a Slovak hot cat. So despite my general emo-leftiness and anti-American tendencies, I say go Macca-D, I am loving it.

  4. alan

    I feel I should step in and defend Slovak food for a moment.

    I’m of the opinion that there’s no such thing as bad food – only food made poorly.
    I’ve lived in this country for a 4 years and there are some things that are done wonderfully, some things less so.

    Typical Slovak food, your halusky, pirohy, roasted goose/duck, and many other are wonderful, when done well. I think one problem this country faces isn’t that the food is bad – but rather people have come to expect or demand less. It makes it harder to find great food in Bratislava.

    I think it’s easier when you leave the city to find great food. Though people may be less demanding, villages are typically poorer and people are unwilling to spend money on something that isn’t extremely tasty. I was not long ago in the tatras and Levoce and I had some of the best food I’ve had in this country.

    For instance, Halusky. The fresh potatoes have a wonderful texture. Fresh bryndza is amazing – creamy yet spicy, flavorful. And who doesn’t love bacon. The problem is when someone chooses to use powder instead of potatoes, or when the potatoes are allowed to sit before being boiled – or when the bryndza isn’t fresh or too watered down with sour cream.

    My point is that great halusky, and other Slovak foods are great. Slovak cuisine and homey, simple, and tasty. If only consumers (especially in Bratislava) would demand more from restaurants, we might see the cuisine really come to life.

  5. George M

    ~~~Typpical SVK cuisine? Skalica trdelnik f.e.
    Typical food: Sauerkraut with smoked meat
    Christmas habbits: a lot of ~~~

    You missed that Slovak delight , Carp fish and that awful Christmas soup made with sour cabbage and some tasteless sausage .

    Someone please pass me the sick bucket .

  6. O

    @Peter I do not support American fast food, but you have to realize that in Central and Easter Europe and specifically in this country, your traditional typical food is extremely poor. That is why there are not really many slovak restaurants outside of this place. Not even in Bratislava, if you take a look to the most exclusive high cuisine restaurants are mostly non Slovak food. It is even hard to point out a real Slovak dish that it is worth talking about. Your Christmas traditional dinner is probably one of the worst I have every imagine.

    • Losgar

      Missing the turkey, aren’t ya?

      Wanna see a really rich Christmas dinner? Go to the gypsies’, I’m serious, you will feel like at the queen’s table.
      Typpical SVK cuisine? Skalica trdelnik f.e.
      Typical food: Sauerkraut with smoked meat
      Christmas habbits: a lot of

      Try to google it, if you don’t know them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  7. George M

    Yea right , and Slovaks love healthy potato and flour mixed together, full fat cheese and then with bacon fat poured over it. Cool eh ? Smoked, bone dry sausages all with added paprika ( why no other herb? ) and eat raw fat rind they call actually `bacon` ….and for `lunch` for a Slovak, is on a plate , two scoops of sticky dry rice, a piece of under, or over cooked unfathomable meat, dumped with a runny tasteless sauce, no veg of course and if it is produced boiled to death ………… Yummm eh ?

  8. peter

    Hi American friends!
    One thing I can tell u is a fact, that less people in Slovakia like that shit. We have many other typical and traditional restaurants ich which we cant test the nerves… Its all the marketing and business. Not a good lunch. Your culture in the middle of Europe is funny and paying so much money for this disgusting shit is very silly.. Sorry… :)

  9. Pipiripaw

    Welcome to the Mother Slovakia :) !
    Meaning of Customer Service = We are making you a favor ! Anyway I agree with the bankrupcy of Burguer King is Alan faults and probably the rest of the crazy gringos on vacations here ahhahaha :) !

  10. EXPAT

    Have you been to the McDs in Aupark! People sit there for more than it takes to consume a BIG MAC, and the younger crowd believes it is a social hangout! YES, Socializing!

    I prefered Bob’s Big Boys in America when I was younger, but you wouldn’t understand!

  11. George M

    Forgive me here , but you actually think going to Mc D`s is socialising ?

  12. EXPAT

    In the US, McDs is a franchise company, not a country owned and run business! Anyone with the cash can BUY a McDs in America! I had a classmate whos family owned three in the local area…they were bloody rich, and this is American McDs costs…so I can imagine the money moving through these 5 or 6 McDs in Slovakia! If there are more I appologize, I have only run across this many! In America this is covered in a three mile radius! I now know why Slovaks have no time to socilaize after starting a family…..they have no time as they are cooking all their home made meals and Resin, instead of picking up the fast food on the way home from work!

  13. Mike

    Good Luck John. Maybe Mr. Bohac will be in charge. He is Mc Donalds country manager for Slovakia and my former classmate from elementary school.

  14. I wrote to someone in McD office this morning and asked for a standpoint, so we will see

  15. Not long back I told my girlfriend that the best way to get a fresh Bigmac is to ask for something to be added or taken away from it. She was very doubtful that this would be possible here in Slovakia. Just as well I haven’t tried it yet!
    I used to work for MacDonald’s and special orders were very important – if the customer got what he wanted he would surely come back. In Slovakia, you always get the feeling that they just don’t want you to come back.

  16. Mike

    Welcome to Slovakia guys :] Staying here brings you all the bonuses mentioned in lines above. I am trying to live in inner harmony not giving much chance to stress factors also by avoiding ” so unusuall and demanding wishes ” like more sauce in my burgers :] You have to understand, that people in out MC Donalds are mostly not really thinking or living human beings. These are druids enslaved by the system. Every extra wish is something, that could potentially endanger the system in its own dark, money grabbing and clumsy existence. I am lot of times facing a dilema – beating up shit from the service members ( mostly in their pubescent age ) or letting go. I am still sucessfull in option B. For the moment :]

  17. George M

    What you guys tend to forget is that for years here, three things run through the Slovak mind in business ,1. Give a low quote and try and screw the client at the end for `extra work` , that was never really even done . 2. Saving money ..I had an Electrician run all the plug socket wires from the top of a room ( near the fuse box ) and at a 45 degree angle across the wall to the floor ,so that he could save money on the wire running it down the wall and just above the floor . 3 . Until very recently, customer service did not exist and we as customers should be grateful that the shop assistant was serving us . In some village shops , nothing has changed ! Billa supermarket cashiers have to be the grubbist looking and most miserable bunch of bull dogs chewing a wasp , I have ever met .

  18. EXPAT

    I don’t understand the simple regulations of Condiments, Extra anything, or even a simple additional napkin…
    In most civilized countries, getting ketchup with an order of fries is just being polite! Heck, in most places, other than Slovakia, you can walk in and help yourself to a buffet of condiments for your liking.
    It is not enough that you are paying 2-3 times what you should for a meal at McD’s….but they skimp on everything!
    I believe from what I remember, McD’s was a place to just pop in to, to grab a quick bite and be on your way. Here in Slovakia it is more of a status dining establishment for the rich and wealthy. Come on, Mc Cafe???
    COME ON…it is McDonalds, not anything more….
    I will certainly ask for additional sauce on my next BIG MAC! That, with extra pickles to boot! I will yell and scream at the cost of getting what I want and what they should do to make me stop yelling! I wish more Slovaks would simply stop being “Polite” and freakin’ start to complain about bad service or disappointing customer service…after all, we all pay for things, get your money’s worth!
    Has anyone tried Sabarros in Bratislava….that place was a great “mall pizza” place in the US!

  19. O

    Does anyone know why Burger King close down operations in Bratislava? Maybe they went bankrupt for giving out too much extra sauce to Alan on his hamburgers.

  20. alan

    It’s not possible kills me as well. If I asked them to make me a Whopper I would understand. That’s not possible. Adding more sauce though. It’s a possibility. They have squeeze bottles and the ability to grip a bottle for several seconds.

  21. RGod

    I love the ‘it’s not possible’ line… heard it so much now it no-longer annoys me, just funny.

  22. Donal Greene

    I like a challenge but I think the task would be beyond me

  23. George M

    ~~~~either the cashier was too stupid to extend himself a little bit to give a customer what they wanted, or the management of that particular McDonalds is too stupid to care about whether or not their customers are happy.~~~

    ANSWER , BOTH ! …..as yet Slovaks have not found any worth in customer service ….now there is a business opportunity for you Donal Duck .

    The biggest problem is the box of a mind these people poor kids live in ….

    I hate to admit it , but I jump into a McD`s when traveling by car place to place , and find the receipt for a BM differs from country to country . Slovakia by far is the worst receipt , although I have to admit the chaps and chapesses always very helpful in McD`s in most Bratislava, Zilina and Banska B .

  24. Donal Greene

    This is typical shitty Slovak customer service. They do the minimum! Nice article Alan – I’m off to McDonald’s now to get a big mac… might chance the ‘extra sauce’ request!

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