Sandwiches en la Torre de la Vela

Asociacionismo, libertad y comida rápida, por Jahd

11 de Abril 2004

Le Big Mac

Comida rápida, globalización y libre mercado en un solo artículo en el USA Today de ayer:

Big Mac invasion forces France to weigh culture

Back in 1999, a sheep farmer in an Asterix mustache led a small band of Gauls on a Big Mac attack heard 'round the world. A proud, feisty France, he exulted, humbled Imperial McDonald's.

The symbols seemed perfect. Asterix, a French comic-book hero who drew super-strength from a magic potion, saved his corner of Gaul from Rome. But, this time, the Empire struck back.

Today Jose Bove, the Farmers' Confederation firebrand, risks slipping away into history. "McDo" cash registers at 1,030 locations, meanwhile, ring up a million sales a day to French customers.

McDonald's France reported 2003 revenue approaching $3 billion and is the most profitable subsidiary in Europe. It is opening 40 more restaurants in 2004, 10% of the chain's new outlets worldwide.

To a young generation, those golden arches in 750 big cities and tiny towns say as much, in their way, as the stately Arc de Triomphe that Napoleon raised two centuries ago on the Champs-Elysees.

El artículo trata de cómo puede triunfar la comida rápida en el pais de los grandes chefs:

Across France [...] people have voted with their stomachs. Good restaurants still do well, and a lost Michelin star still invites ruin. But the French also want reliable, cheap, hot food at all hours, not just at mealtimes.

Recuerda el asalto a uno de los restaurantes por parte del ínclito (por afamado, no por ilustre) José Bove:

"Ah yes, you remember that?" said Marc Dehani, who now laughs at the black day when Bove's demonstrators trashed his eatery a month before its opening, causing $150,000 in damage.

"It was supposed to be a peaceful protest at the nearby traffic circle against American tax on Roquefort," he said. "But they headed straight for us and tore down our fence. No one mentioned cheese."

Menciona cómo algo tan americano como MacDonald's puede adaptarse a las costumbres locales, no sustituirlas:

"Look, all the Americans want from us is respect for the trademark and a royalty check," Dehani said. "For the rest, McDonald's France is all French."
[...]
Any fast-food connoisseur will recognize the standard-issue hamburgers, chicken, fries and drinks. But local touches include France's beloved croque-monsieur of cheese and ham on toast, along with high-carb pastries and fresh fruit.
[...]
The arches are sacrosanct, but in places they are reduced in size to blend in with cities' old-world flavor.

Se hace eco de que la comida no es tan rematadamente mala como podamos pensar:

And now the latest: French nutritionists Jean-Michel Cohen and Patrick Serog report that a Big Mac is much healthier than a quiche lorraine.

Se hace hincapié en los beneficios económicos para distintos sectores:

McDonald's fought back with newspaper ads listing how many French cows, chickens, potatoes and heads of lettuce it used each year.

Since then, the chain has hammered away at the same theme: It supports French farmers and employs 42,000 French workers.

Incluso la estirada Francia (vale, es un prejuicio, pero estos son libres) se deja seducir por el espíritu de MacDonald's y compañía:

Resistance to American fashion is hardly new in France. When Le Drugstore, an American-style hangout, opened on the Champs-Elysees in 1962 and others followed, nationalists decried the end of civilization. The first McDonald's brought howls of protest.

But now KFC and Pizza Hut thrive, and Starbucks has opened in Paris.

At first, France had trouble catching on to the burger culture. An early customer recalls overhearing a gentleman in a silk tie order his first Big Mac. "Not too well done."

Pero al fin y al cabo no hace más que cubrir una cierta demanda, sin tan siquiera quitarle mercado a nadie:

"There was nothing similar when we started, and in some remote areas, there was nothing at all," he said. "Our real competition is the kitchen fridge. Either people come to McDo, or they stay home."

Because of France's 35-hour work week, traditional restaurants are open only for a few hours at lunch and dinner, and most close at least one day a week. McDonald's stays open from breakfast time to late at night.

Tal vez la carne no sea chuletón de primera. El queso siempre me ha parecido láminas de plasticard. Ni mencionar los efectos que produce el MacPollo en todo mi aparativo digestivo. Pero cómo disfruto de un cuarto de libra con queso y patatas deluxe, contemplando los arcos dorados como el mayor símbolo de la globalización, de un mundo hermanado por la comida rápida. Un mundo en el que será normal tener MacDonald's en Bagdad y kebabs en la 5ª Avenida.