Florence, Italy – It was bound to happen at some point, but it happened last night – sooner than we had thought. The sky over Florence fell dark. The streets were less crowded, less noisy, and the tourists that populated the city during the day were nowhere to be found. The six of us left our apartment cautiously together, holding our purses close and paying careful attention to those around us, but it didn’t help. A tall Italian man dressed in all black opened a door and motioned for us to enter. We walked through the doorway, shaking our heads at what we were about to do.
Inside, techno music played loudly. We walked forward, and the tall Italian man followed close behind us. We approached a long bar, unsure of what to say or do. More and more men slowly gathered behind us, and we felt pressured to take action.
“I’ll have the chicken McNuggets with fries and a drink,” Jenny said.
The golden arches had summoned us only four days into the trip of a lifetime.
This McDonald’s was much different than any one you might find back in mid-Missouri. We laughed at the nightclub-like environment and jokingly danced to the far-too-loud Italian techno songs in our seats as we waited for our meals.
We all ordered what we might typically order at a McDonald’s in the states, but there were a couple of unfamiliar menu items that we had to try. The most mysterious item on the Italian McDonald’s menu was “Creamy Stars.” After finishing our meals, we passed around six Creamy Stars. We smelled them, looked at them carefully, and each hoped that one of the other girls would be the first to take a bite.
Unsurprisingly, I was the first to bite into the Creamy Star. After one bite, I still had no idea what I was eating. The other brave girls at the table tried the mysterious snack, and we agreed that we were eating some type of fried cheese – perhaps, ricotta?
Most of us became sick to our stomachs immediately after our meal. Is McDonald’s to blame? Was it the Creamy Stars? We’ll never know. We were able to determine, however, that in less than a week, we had already become less fond of and tolerant of the fried, greasy fast food we sometimes eat at home. I won’t be going to McDonald’s in Italy again. With so many flavorful, fresh, homemade dishes at the restaurants around us, we have no need for the Big Macs, McNuggets or the Creamy Stars that remain a mystery.