Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking that all Italians share the Slow Food crowd's respect and protection of their food heritage, even in Slow Food's own back yard. Forget about the rich Piemontese gastronomic tradition that made famous the Alba truffle, Barolo and Barbaresco and is the source of two of the best dishes I've ever had. Why, you ask? Because McDonald's will be the official restaurant of the next winter Olympics in Torino. As if Torino needed more than the 13 McDonalds' already established there.
McDonald's began its global corporate sponsorship of the Olympic Games in 1968; 2006 will be its fifth year as Olympics Top Sponsor, a relationships contracted to continue through 2012. Though I can't speak personally for the food (I may have once tasted a friend's milkshake after a soccer game when I was seven, but have otherwise never eaten anything from McDonald's), I find it strange that one of the major culprits in America's growing obesity epidemic (think Super Size Me) has managed to associate itself with the pinnacle of athletic achievement and, seemingly without irony, tout "an active, balanced lifestyle." I'm all for big companies trying to do good and credit McDonald's for some progress towards lighter offerings (though their salads sometimes have more fat than their bugers) and advocating an active lifestyle. I also recognize that Piedmont is known for slow food, which probably isn't the way to feed millions of visiting spectators. However, Pecora Nera's assessment is apt: this is an optimal opportunity lost for promotion of Italian gastronomy. And on Piedmont's own home turf, no less. It makes me wonder at the things that even the equally proud Italians and Olympic Commission will sell out... Or should I blame the people who already seek out McDonald's in Torino, Florence, and other centers of gastronomic delight?