French Fried Over Bad Taste at the Louvre

By Sadie Bass

Oct 5, 2009 11:43am

ABC's Stu Schutzman reports from New York: Move over Leonardo and Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto — make room for Big Mac. The Golden Arches are opening soon at the world’s most celebrated art museum. McDonalds will be one of the headliners next month at the Louvre’s new international food court in a plaza beneath the famous museum. Many French are not amused. “France’s art lovers and gastronomes are united in Gallic outrage,” says the Telegraph. “The Mona Lisa will soon be able to dig into a Big Mac,” reads the headline in Le Figaro. Where will this end? fear the French. “Today McDonalds,” says a French art critic, “tomorrow low-cost clothes shops?” The Museum is quick to point out that McDonalds “has taken the utmost care in ensuring the quality of the project, both in culinary and esthetic terms.”  A McCafe and a McDonalds will be situated “among other world cuisines and coffee shops….in line with the museum’s image.” Not good enough for some of the Louvre’s employees who are still outraged by the opening of a Starbucks at the site last year. “Starbucks was bad enough but McDonalds is worse,” said one.  This is the last straw,” said another who believes McDonalds simply doesn’t pass the smell test. “This is the pinnacle of exhausting consumerism,” he said,  “deficient gastronomy and very unpleasant odors in the context of a museum.” Here’s the hypocrisy: for a  country which prides itself as the center of the gastronomic universe, the French are actually gaga over McDonalds — there are more McDs in France than any other country outside the US, visited by 450 million hungry customers a year. “A country that famously venerates haute cuisine and the joys of regional recipes,” says the Daily News, “has fallen for standardized American grease bombs.” But numbers don’t lie. The Louvre attracts about 8 million visitors a year — do the math — 450 million vs 8 million and it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that a McDonalds in the basement might not be such a bad idea. The conundrum, muses Carleton Bryant in today’s Washington Times, is what wine do you order with your Big Mac? “It’s all about culture,” he writes, “and the French will tell you they’re dripping in it. So along comes the unwashed, uncouth Americans to sully all they value most highly — language, cuisine, hauteur. Guess we Americans are too focused on liberte, egalite, fraternite.”

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