It’s TGIF everywhere

21/09/2019 Posted by admin

by Melanie de Klerk

Some people collect spoons, or T-shirts and various other mementos of travelling abroad. I, on the other hand, appear to be collecting memories of all things fried eaten at TGIF. This American restaurant franchise, like Starbucks, appears to have infiltrated some of the most unlikely of places.

I have never once set foot in a TGIF restaurant in its birthplace in the U.S., and yet I always seem to find one in a moment of hunger in the most unlikely of places. I’ve dined on burgers and fries in Vienna, Austria in the basement of a 17th-century building. I’ve eaten chicken burgers and fries at TGIF in The Hague in a historic hotel overlooking the North Sea. I’ve even chowed down on beer-battered shrimp, and, yes, fries at Moscow International Airport.

In all of these locales, the music playing was distinctly American. The décor was distinctly American with album covers adorning the walls and the tell-tale candy striped logo on the menus and placemats. The cuisine is also distinctly American.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise to walk into yet another TGIF and see the same wall art, the same menus and the same food. Only this time I would say it was probably in the most unusual of places — the middle of southern Afghanistan on a military base.

The TGIF at Kandahar Airfield looks like any other. Only here, weapons are not just allowed — they are required.

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Here, the food is the same, only you have to start the ordering process by asking the waiter or waitress, “What don’t you have available on the menu?”

This is because of difficulties in re-supplying as convoys heading into Afghanistan are often being hit by insurgents in Pakistan bent on disrupting NATO supply lines into the country.

Although the menu and décor don’t change from one place to another, the ambience does.

In Austria, despite the Beach Boys album covers on the walls and the burgers and fries, I knew I was in Vienna as I looked up through the half-windows onto one of Vienna’s main streets.

In Amsterdam, the waves crashing onto shore in typical winter storm fashion reminded me that I was definitely at the beach in the Netherlands in winter.

In Moscow, it was the server with the thick Russian accent asking if I wanted “soup, salad or ‘freeze’ (fries).”

In Kandahar, it was definitely the sheer number of men and women with weapons slung over their shoulders or holstered at their side while dining on American-style foods that I will remember as the most distinctly unique TGIF dining experience.

Melanie is Global National’s research supervisor, based in Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter: @emmyjd2.

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