Just to clarify, this is in no way an advisory. I am not getting paid to be the hype woman for Ronald McDonald – I, like so many others, just love a good Maccas. But even being the devotee that I am, I was blown away on my recent trip to Italy.
Now, before any of you poke fun at my choice of eatery, I want to make it clear that I am a certified foodie and I’m far from your typical Brit Abroad. You wouldn’t, for example, catch me dead dining at an Angus Steakhouse, buying sweets from M&M World, or watching footy at a sports bar with a plate of ham, egg and chips in front of me. But I was away for two weeks and sometimes a girl’s just gotta eat.
One such occasion was when I was in Rome, wandering the sprawling grounds of Vatican City. Ever the optimist, I not only wore a dress – in March – I donated a pair of sandals. Needless to say, the combination of block heels and the cobbled streets did all sorts to my feet, and after traipsing about the basilica for hours on end, I was getting a little tired… and hangry. To my delight, I saw a sign with The Golden Arches on, and the urge for a cheeseburger hit.
On entering, I was met with a mob of school kids (all wearing bulky backpacks, I might add) and tourists rummaging through their coin purses to figure out the correct change. But this did not determine me. I confidently strode over to the self-service machines, ready to select my usual order – when suddenly new options presented themselves.
Mini calzone-type bites, filled with tomato and mozzarella? McTiramisu (it’s not actually called that)? Yes please! What’s more, when I went to collect my order and the crowd of school kids parted like the Red Sea, I saw that there was even a dedicated counter to patisserie and espresso – that actually looked appetizing.
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As I tucked into these new delights, I was reminded of the first time I ever tried McDonald’s. My parents never really let us get it growing up, and I was well into my teens by the time I really sampled the food. I remember thinking it was a taste sensation – it was so different to what we ate at home (and that’s not me slagging off my mum’s cooking, either). Yet here I was, aged 30, feeling like that sheltered adolescent once more.
In case your view of me wasn’t already critical, a scene from the pilot of Girls also popped into my head. The privileged college graduates are all sitting around, talking about how hard it is to get a job after full-time education, when Ray Ploshansky, a grumpy older guy, condemns them for their harsh views of McDonald’s workers. He rants about how it’s a respectable job and raves about how, no matter where you are in the world, you can bite down on one of their burgers and it’ll “taste like home”.
For me, at this moment, that was only half-true. While the universal joy of a beef patty was still to be found, I had also been introduced to a whole new set of treats – at a fast food restaurant, no less.
All that’s left to say, really, is: thanks, Maccy D’s Italia, for your service.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.