One of the things a lot of people I know have been shocked by when they came to Tunisia is the inexistence of any international fast food chains.
Yep, no McDonald’s, no Burger King, no KFC, no Domino’s, no Popeye’s, nothing. Even the couple of Pizza Huts we had here, which I’m not sure had the rights to the trademark, have been shut down.
Ok, I know, a lot of people think good riddance! And that we’re better off without those fast food chains for many reasons, starting with health on to other anti-globalization ideas.
But, let’s start by exploring the health side of it, it’s pretty much nonsense to say that having these chains open up will introduce unhealthy diets to people, because with or without them, people are eating fast food, only they’re doing it from crappy Tunisian substitutes that serve food that is even unhealthier.
People who would go to a McDonald’s or a Burger King, go to Baguette & Baguette, others who would go to KFC or Popeye’s go to Chickos, and the ones who would go to Pizza Hut or Domino’s end up in one of the thousands of Pizzarias.
But the difference is that the local counterparts serve low quality, unhealthy, tasteless food. I have yet to eat a good cheese burger, a tasty chicken meal, or a delicious thick stuffed crust pizza in Tunisia, even though I pay a relatively expensive price for what turns out to be a bad meal.
Just to make myself clear, I’m not talking about Tunisian fast food; God knows how much I love our kifteji, lablebi and other delicacies; I’m talking about the substitutes we have for those international chains and their meals.
And by the way, I’m not a big fan of the meals these chains provide, but every once in a while, I do feel like a double whopper or a good KFC meal or a stuffed crust pizza. And here, that’s nowhere to be found.
Now for the economic reasons, well the world is changing, whether we like it or not, we are in a cycle of globalization, and the whole world is opening up. Even though recent events like the whole US-UAE ports operations story and the French-Indian steel company one demonstrate that some would like it to be pretty one-sided, but eventually, this is a strong current that is going to pull everyone along.
Tunisia has been following a steady policy by which it is slowly opening up it’s economy to the global economy, and just like we’re seeing many international companies setting up shop in Tunisia, I think it’s time we let some international food chains in too.
I understand the fears that some people have about globalization erasing the original identity of the country and how these big chains would force other smaller local restaurants out of business, making it almost impossible to find an authentic Tunisian meal in Tunisia.
I’ve seen this in many countries I’ve visited, where you almost feel like cities are copy pasted all around the world, with the same restaurants, malls, clothes shops, …etc. But this is where the government and people should kick in, it’s our responsibility to keep these businesses alive, to support them and encourage their existence.
It’s also their responsibity to enhance their quality and bring themselves to a level where they can compete by providing a decent and delicious meal at a reasonable price.