I'm over it.
First Pollo Tropical decides to Americanize the menu of its restaurants in the Northeast to attract more Anglo diners, then Dunkin' Donuts comes out with the "Cuban Flatbread Sandwich," and now, in what just might be one of the most derogatory forms of flattery I have ever seen, McDonald's has introduced the "café con leche" as the newest member of its McCafe menu.
When I first heard this yesterday, I hoped it was a sick McJoke. But, after visiting the McDonald's on 87th Avenue in Doral last night, I realized the joke is on me -- a female Cuban-American. The rumor was true.
Where do I begin? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, at least that's what people say. What about imitation as parody? While it's cute that McDonald's is trying to reach out to the Hispanic population, namely Cubans, the way it has chosen to do so is not flattering -- it is disrespectful.
Before I headed over to try this abomination, I called a manager at a McDonald's in Doral. I asked if it was a "real" café con leche. "Yes," came the answer.
Made with real Cuban or Colombian coffee?
Hmmmm. Imagine my displeasure when I visited the McDonald's on 87 Avenue in Doral and spoke with Marlon, the manager on duty. "It's Arabic coffee; it's almost the same thing. It's not Bustelo or anything, but it's good." It's Arabic coffee, he says. Almost the same thing, he says. Yes, your honor, I murdered him in cold blood, I say.
I'm not sure how familiar you are with Arabic (Arabian?) coffee, but it tastes like old, burnt coffee. It is extremely bitter and leaves a nasty aftertaste in your mouth. Not so with our beloved Pilon.
Second and almost as important is the fact that the milk and coffee come already mixed at McBlasé. If you're Latino, heck, most likely even if you just grew up in Miami, Latino or not, you know that one of the sacred aspects of ordering your café con leche is the fact that you can order it to your liking. Clarito, por favor. Light on the coffee, please. Oscuro -- dark. At McDonald's? "You'll have it our way."
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SHOW ME HOW
The third thing, and this was just painful to watch, is that the beverage comes out of what looks like a high-tech coffee vending machine. The workers push a few buttons, and Voila! Instant motor oil.
The rub lies here -- if you want to reach out to a certain demographic -- don't do so by commercializing and massacring stuff that they hold dear. What's next? The McMedia Noche made with ham, turkey, and American cheese?