Discover more from The Next New Thing (to Me)
When I'm in Rome . . .
The Apostle Paul once explained to his readers that although he was free and not bound to any specific group, he became like those he was trying to reach in order to win them over. Nowadays, we say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” In the late fourth century, Saint Ambrose, a Christian bishop in Milan, said, "Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi," which translates to, "If you are in Rome, live in the Roman way; if you are elsewhere, live as they do there." It’s a beautiful sentiment that shows the importance of adapting to the customs and traditions of the people you are trying to connect with so that you can lovingly and effectively communicate with them in order to build relationships.
That’s something that I try to do with the people groups I spend time with, hence the teenage slang post, Listen as I Spilleth the Tea, not long ago, and my learning to laugh about aching joints and hot tub bubbles with the seniors at the community pool. Oddly enough, this idea got me to thinking about a famous restaurant chain that has taken this idea and run with it: McDonald’s. They know the meaning of “When in Rome” and they do it well.
At McDonald’s in Italy, for example, the menu includes pizza, BBQ chicken pasta, and lasagna. On the dessert menu they have a McFlurry Tiramisu, and gelato ice cream. They also serve baked goods like cornetti (Italian croissants) and ciambelle (donuts).
The French have fallen in love with McDonald’s. They even have a different name for the golden arches. They call it McDo, and, their menu is très sophistiqué. In Paris, you can order the "Le Croque McDo," a twist on the classic croque-monsieur, complete with Swiss cheese and béchamel sauce. And for dessert, you can get a colorful selection of macarons or a Tarte Tatin (a caramelized upside-down apple tart), proving that even fast food can have a touch of elegance.
The Philippines McDonald’s is a whole new world with Fried Chicken and Spaghetti, and the delicious looking McRice Burger (with rice for buns). What’s more, they have rice bowls and chicken dishes with sweet and savory glazes, and for dessert they even serve coconut pie! (I think that the Philippines McDonald’s by far is my favorite menu!)
Their ability to "do as the Romans do" has allowed McDonald's to build relationships and become part of communities all around the world. At the end of the day, good food and shared experiences bring us together, no matter where you're from. That's a beautiful thing.
So, next time you're cruising down the Champs-Élysées or strolling the streets of Manila, stop into McDonald's and see just how well they've adapted to their surroundings. And, when you are with a group of people like say, the Romans, who have different customs and practices than you, don’t be afraid to embrace the differences that might otherwise alienate you. For love’s sake, eat the way they eat, play the games they play. Laugh with them and embrace their culture in order to build relationship. When Hudson Taylor got to China in the 1800s, he did what most westerners thought was crazy; he put on Chinese clothes and grew his hair like the men in his village. For love’s sake, he did all he could to lower cultural barriers. Sometimes, it’s so easy to be so proud of our culture that we forget the most important thing, love.
When I first went to France, it was for college. And when I walked into McDonald’s after being there for some six months and saw how different the food was from in the States, I was upset. I wanted my food, served my way (oops, that’s Burger King!) But now that I’m older, I think I’m up for the next new thing (to me); embracing what others love, so that I can better love them. What does that look like in everyday life? I’m not sure yet, but I do know it can’t mean that I look down at the way other people live their lives or eat their food. It must mean that I’m going to have to risk doing something new (to me) in order to show that I care enough to enjoy what they enjoy. So, wanna join me in the risky business of living like the Romans, for love’s sake?
There are three buttons on the bottom of every post: “like,” “share,” and “comment.” Your responses are hugely helpful in attracting new readers. I also love them.
If you’re in the US, and you’d like to try some of these amazing creations, you can get a lot of them at the world’s largest McDonalds in Orlando, Florida.