I've been taking advantage of the three-gets-you-five aspect of Thanksgiving week and have been taking the entire week off. I decided to explore my neighborhood on foot today and thought that I would walk over to the next area of Queens known as Corona.
Corona is a heavily Latino neighborhood with Dominican, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Colombian immigrants. I decided to have lunch at the Guatemalan-based fast food chain called Pollo Campero. I first heard of the chain in an article in Latin Trade magazine. I remember the article discussed how boxes of the wildly popular chicken was fast becoming the carry-on luggage of Guatemalan immigrants who returned to the US with a taste of home.
Since then the company has opened a few restaurants in the US and even more in Latin America. I had a three-piece combination with a side order of rice and tostones (green plaintains) and a couple of corn tortillas. It was delicious and the breast piece may have been one of the moistest and meatiest breast pieces I have ever had.
So is this truly globalization? I don't know. I was the only gringo* dining in the full restaurant and I don't see this branch attracting many people outside the Hispanic community. There's another branch in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, another heavily Hispanic community and if I get a chance I'll visit it.
The international success of the dreaded McDonald's, however, is their ability to penetrate the world. When I visited Germany a few years ago, I have to confess that in a moment of weakness I ate at McDonald's and the irony of saying "Ich möchte ein McRib" ("I'd like a McRib") was not lost on me. Despite the occasional local variations like guaraná soda, pineapple pies and passion fruit sundaes in Brazil, McDonald's product is essentially the same from nation to nation. I'll believe that Pollo Campero is truly becoming a force in terms of globalization when I see one on the Upper West Side or Upper East Side below 96th Street or when I go visit family in Huntsville, AL and when it is doing so much more than appealing to immigrants desiring of a taste for home. Meanwhile, I'll let it be our little secret. It was definitely worth the walk to Corona. Check it out.
*Yes I know I'm technically not a gringo in my own country. Deal with it.