Ever since McDonald’s introduced a pair of Slow Food-inspired McItaly burgers last fall, the company has caused quite a stir on the boot-shaped peninsula. The international chain collaborated with Gualtiero Marchesi, one of Italy's most renowned chefs -- and the only Italian chef to date to receive three Michelin stars -- to create the sandwiches. In the process it has also raised big questions about whether a fast food chain can ever truly adopt a Slow Food approach.
Although McDonald’s maintains a fairly consistent core menu around the world, it’s not uncommon for the fast food chain to tailor its restaurants regionally. In Japan, the chain serves ramen noodles, for instance, while the Indonesian menu offers the “McSatay,” and the Indian menu includes something called a "Veggie McMuffin." Even proud McDonald's France, otherwise known as "MacDo," dishes out a popular petit dejeuner-cum-McBreakfast, composed of buttery croissants and cafe au laits, known as “McCafes.”
In Italy, home of the Slow Food movement, the new sandwiches were named Adagio and Vivace (names that Marchesi says represent an integration of two competing philosophies: slow and fast). They were both made with some local and traditional products, such as eggplant, spinach, and the Italian cheese ricotta salata. Several of the products were DOP certified, an acronym that stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, a widely recognized certification of regional authenticity.
The two sandwiches were a hit. Due to customer demand, they appeared in the stores for nearly two months longer than the initial three-week “limited time offer.” But their popularity among Italians has also reinvigorated the debate among the Slow Food advocates who criticize the fast food industry's wanton neglect for local food communities and traditions.