Sunday, February 22, 2009

French Fry Diary 13: Hesburger

In the summer of 2007 I visited Helsinki, Finland. For someone like me who is not only a catastrophically fussy eater but also a fast food fanatic, new experiences and foreign lands can be a bit of a problem sometimes. So when I found Hesburger in the mall near our hotel in Helsinki, I knew I had to try it.

In appearance, it looks very much like a Burger King (especially in the logo and font) or Hardees, but it’s not. Hesburger is indeed its own entity. It was set up like your typical Burger King restaurant, only without outside walls and dropped right in the middle of the mall, with foot traffic on all sides. Its location was so logical I had to wonder why we didn’t have fast food places done like this here in America.

Now, surprisingly (to me at least), most folks in Finland speak English. And this is opposed to London (our stop before Helsinki) where many of the people I met mysteriously did not speak English. But this lack of a language barrier made life in Helsinki pretty easy in the communication department – until I got to Hesburger that is. The folks behind the counter were among the only non-English-speaking Finns I encountered.

Now I knew that "pomme frites" was French fries. That was easy – a trick I picked up from the Malcolm McDowell movie "Time After Time" where a time-displaced H.G. Wells ordered French fries for his first time at a McDonald’s. The hard part was ordering a hamburger plain, with nothing on it. After a lot of primitive sign language and hand signals and much repeating of “just bun and meat” together we pulled it off.

The food itself, burger and fries-wise, were more applicable to Hardees than Burger King. The burger was fried not chargrilled, but not untasty, and the fries were slightly greasy shoestrings, but a definite oasis for this fast food junkie. If you ever go to Scandinavia, definitely drop by Hesburger to feed your junk food monkey.


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