Once again, McDonald’s has managed to offend people with its offerings. This time, though, it’s not just the greasy taste, the exorbitant calorie content, or that all-too-recognizable and impossible-to-eliminate smell that has McComplaints rolling in. The target of the latest uproar at the Golden Arches is the McItaly, a menu item that puts a unique, nation-centered spin on McDonald’s traditional fare. Rather than residing on a sesame seed bun, the McItaly rests on ciabatta-like bread and houses Italian beef, lettuce, Asiago cheese and artichoke spread, as well as optional smoked pancetta. McDonald’s argues that this is not only a salute to Italian culinary prowess – the country is widely known for its fine cuisine – but also supports the country, as all of the ingredients are made in Italy (which sounds like less of a challenge when you realize the burgers are only being sold in Italy).
McDonald’s executives were also quick to point out that the McItaly also contains all of the colors of the Italian flag – red, white and green. What they forgot to mention, though, is that red, white and green are also the colors that your face will turn, in succession, after biting into the burger. Red, with anger, after biting in and realizing that this is little more than fast food wrapped in nationalist dress; white, with fear as you realize it’s going to make you sick; and green, right before you orally refund the meal.
Of course, it’s not just the taste of the burger that people are finding offense. Many Italians are insulted that McDonald’s would have the nerve to attempt to insert the McItaly – a glorified fast food burger – into Italy’s renown culinary tradition. Italy has been known for its gourmet dishes for centuries, and the attempt to elevate fast food to that level hasn’t been well received. Italy seems like a particularly odd place to attempt to glorify fast food, as the country was the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, which promotes quality ingredients, using local produce and assembling the highest-quality dishes – clearly the opposite of McDonald’s culinary strategy. In fact, Carlo Petrini, founder of the movement, criticized the McItaly in an open letter, noting that “Globalizing a taste does not promote it but rather standardizes and homogenizes it.”
Still, it could have been worse. After all, insulting a country with one of the most glorious culinary resumes in the world isn’t too bad, is it? Perhaps not, when you consider some other offensive offerings McDonald’s could roll out in the future:
- Le Fry-ffeil Tower
The McItaly may have made a mockery of the Italian colors, but it didn’t go after a landmark – that’s where Le Fry-ffeil Tower comes in. A tower constructed entirely of greasy, salty fried potato slices, this concoction pays homage to fine French cuisine by utilizing the country’s greatest gastronomic contribution – the French fry. McCustomers can feel like they’re living the life in Paris any day of the week with this French fry model of the Eiffel Tower. The best part, though, is that the base incorporates another fine French food – French toast. France has blessed the world with countless classic recipes, so what way to kick the McItaly insult factor up a notch than by boiling down all of French cooking into the French fry and French toast? The real French paradox will be figuring out how to eat this without having your blood pressure rise instantly.
- The Big Ben Burger
This one isn’t shaped like the monument it honors, but it does give a sense of life in London, as the burger is inexplicably unattractive and extremely soggy, as if it just stepped inside out of a London rain shower. The beef offers a smokey taste to mimic London’s fog, and the meat was made from in-bred cattle (a subtle homage to the Royal Family). The Big Ben Burger will only be sold at soccer (football) matches, and chewing on it will make one’s teeth crooked and stain them yellow. Furthermore, the burger can only be ordered through the use of excessive, incomprehensible Cockney slang. The Big Ben burger is served with a spot of tea for dipping and will threaten to take over and enslave the rest of the menu items.
- The Chicken Itza
Modeled after the famous temple in the Mayan capital of Chichén Itzá, this meal pays tribute to Mexico. The meal itself consists of layers of fried chicken and nacho cheese, ascending in a pyramid shape to mimic the Chichén Itzá temple. The Chicken Itza is surrounded by a bed of rice and tortilla chips. Unfortunately, the Chicken Itza cannot be ordered between two and five in the afternoon, as the meal will be taking a siesta. Each Chicken Itza is served with a shot of Tequila and a sombrero-shaped bowl of salsa. Ordering the Chicken Itza results in the manager on duty performing a Mexican hat dance, accompanied by the music of a dedicated Mariachi band.
NOTE: The stereotypes presented above are in no way reflective of my beliefs, but were simply presented to show how offensive many Italians find the McItaly and to possibly provide some humor. In other words, don’t be offended. I didn’t start this nonsense.