Dining Out

Published on October 9th, 2009 | by Jennifer Lance

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McDonald’s to Open at the Louvre, Sacre Vache!

First the pyramid entrance, now a McDonald’s fast food restaurant:  what would Louis XIV think of the modern day version of his Palais Louvre? Sure the Sun King was rather garish himself, but nothing can compete with the American icon of the golden arches for bad taste.  The French are known for their fine food and art, so what place does McDonald’s have at the Louvre, even if they call it McCafe?

Photo by al IanniMcDonald's to open at the Louvre.

McDonald's to open at the Louvre.

Fast food culture epitomizes everything that is wrong with the American diet.  It is supported by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes a CAFO as:

Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland.

Furthermore, corn is the primary ingredient in all fast food. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences cited on Eco Child’s Play found:

Of 160 food products we purchased at Wendy’s throughout the United States, not 1 item could be traced back to a noncorn source. Our work also identified corn feed as the overwhelming source of food for tissue growth, hence for beef and chicken meat, at fast food restaurants.

So why would the French want a le Big Mac while viewing the Mona Lisa?  Barbara Kingsolver compares American and French food culture in her book  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:

We’ve even named a thing we call the French Paradox: How can people have such a grand time eating cheese and fattened goose livers and still stay slim?  Having logged some years in France, I have some hunches:  they don’t suck down giant sodas; they consume many courses in a meal but the portions of fatty ones tend to be tiny; they smoke like chimneys (though that’s changing); and they draw out meals sociably, so it’s not just about shoveling it in…When asked, my French friends have confided with varying degrees of tact that the real paradox is how people manage to consume, so very much, the scary food of America.

Fear not Frenchmen and women, you too can wolf down corn-based, fatty foods while viewing centuries worth of history and culture.  Of course, McDonald’s is not new to France and in fact is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the country.   According to the Telegraph, art historians are upset about the golden arches entering the Louvre:

“This is the last straw,” said one art historian working at the Louvre, who declined to be named. “This is the pinnacle of exhausting consumerism, deficient gastronomy and very unpleasant odours in the context of a museum.”  Didier Rykner, head of The Art Tribune website found the idea “shocking”.”I’m not against eating in a museum but McDonald’s is hardly the height of gastronomy,” he said, adding that it was a worrying mixture of art and consumerism. “Today McDonald’s, tomorrow low-cost clothes shops,” he said.

The most likely scenario is the new Louvre McDonald’s is targeted at American tourists in Paris, just like the one on the Champs Elysees.  Whatever the purpose, the golden arches do not belong in the Louvre. What’s next? The Tuileries?

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  • Levi Novey

    For some additional context about “How McDonald’s Conquered France” readers might also want to check out this article: http://www.slate.com/id/2221246/

    It actually provides some evidence to refute your assumption that “The most likely scenario is the new Louvre McDonald’s is targeted at American tourists in Paris, just like the one on the Champs Elysees.” In my guess, it’s targeted at all people going to the Louvre, including a healthy portion of the French themselves.

    As for the statement that follows: “Whatever the purpose, the golden arches do not belong in the Louvre. What’s next? The Tuileries?” I’ve got mixed feelings about the matter.

    It does seem like a grand perversion to have McDonalds inside such a highly esteemed cultural institution… but then again, McDonalds doesn’t always share the reputation of being lowly, unprestigious food as it does in the U.S. For instance, where I live in Peru, fast food establishments are much nicer and viewed here as luxurious, posh places to eat. The clientele skews opposite. McDonalds and its ilk are predominantly for the wealthy and affluent, rather than predominantly for the less wealthy in the U.S. Granted in the U.S.,a fast food culture is rampant throughout the social classes. The fast food restaurant jobs also pay well here and offer some good scholarships relative to their American counterparts.

    For these reasons, I guess I’m a little reluctant to impose my American negativity toward McDonalds (one of our own institutions) upon the French. The Louvre is their cultural landmark, and it reflects the identity they choose for better or worse.

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