LATE LAST YEAR, A MCDONALD’S opened up just on the edge of Vatican City. You can now see the Golden Arches from St. Peter’s Square. One cardinal at the Vatican called it a “disgrace,” lamenting that the area was already becoming overrun with peddlers of cheap tourist trinkets, that the food was not in the Roman tradition, and that the Vatican-owned building that the McDonald’s is housed in could be better used.
And hey: fair enough. McDonald’s is a disgusting restaurant, and it’s really unfortunate that for so many decades, the primary face of America abroad has been a clown who likes to give kids toys they can get lead poisoning from.
But I have to admit — I’ve eaten at McDonald’s while abroad. I have been, perhaps justifiably, severely chastised by my friends when I’ve done it, but I stand by my actions. Sure: no one should ever eat McDonald’s period. But there are five instances during travel when it is, in my view, acceptable.