Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I almost let an important anniversary pass by without acknowledgement this month: my McDonald's free birthday. On Thanksgiving weekend ten years ago I went to McDonald's for the very last time. I wasn't yet a full-fledged food snob, and I hadn't even met my French husband, much less adopted his disdain of all things fast food. I'd just hit the drive-in with a bunch of friends on our way back from a trip to Nantucket and suddenly had the revelation that what I was eating was essentially disgusting.

So I decided I wouldn't eat it any more. And after a few years of systematically avoiding McDonald's, it became a point of pride. Of course, now that I'm a yanquis in Paris, I just love bragging to my French friends that I won't set foot in a McDo, as McDonald's is affectionately known here.

Ten years! Not bad, huh? I thought of this today after a television commercial had me mesmerized for a good thirty seconds trying to figure out just what they were selling. Cowboys galloped across the American West with canyons and buttes as a backdrop, and aerial shots of silver mountain streams. Thirty years ago, it could only have been an advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes, but today? I was clued in that it was a food product by the mangerbouger.com government health message discreetly displayed at the bottom of the screen, but I had to wait until the last five seconds to get the pitch. McDonald's was using the American dream to sell their latest burger. What else?

I'm a little bit chagrined that in the country of haute cuisine, McDonald's is so successful. But I try to look on the bright side. Sure, it can only contribute to an epidemic of obesity and a loss of traditional culinary values. But if it gives this country a much needed network of free and relatively clean public restrooms, there is one heck of a silver lining.

1 comment:

Mom in France said...

Too funny! I hadn't really thought of the bathroom angle. I'll have to keep that in mind. ;-)