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Olympians ‘gorge’ on McDonald’s, miss out on Brazilian cuisine

The fast food restaurant is considered more of a convenient, safer option by the athletes

Published: Updated:

Soon after green swimming pools overshadowed Brazil’s water Olympics, reports surfaced of how McDonald’s not so healthy Big Macs and French fries have dominated athletes’ diets instead of the South American country’s “delicious” and “authentic” cuisine.

“This is very bad,” Giuseppe Marino, executive chef at the Brazilian restaurant Spirito Lounge & Kitchen in Dubai, told Al Arabiya English.

A report by The Washington Post published on Friday said fit athletes were “gorging themselves” on McDonald’s in the Olympic Village, making it the preferred choice over the large cafeteria and the Brazilian restaurant at the location.

At the Olympic Village, which houses all the athletes, McDonald’s is not offered at its regular cheap rate but entirely for free.

Aside from the obvious health consequences, Marino lamented that the athletes were missing out on Brazilian cuisine - an explosion of “color and taste” - and not expanding their palates.

“It’s better … for you to try the new. You need to try,” the chef said. “Maybe the experience is good, maybe the experience is bad, but you need to give the possibility to another food to come into your life,” he insisted.

Dubbing McDonald’s as “industrial,” he emphasized that the “burger is the same taste” everywhere.

Another food connoisseur also expressed her disappointment over the athletes wanting a quick, fast and free choice.

“They are missing out on authentic flavors,” Sudeshna Ghosh, a Dubai-based food and travel writer and critic, said, calling it a “pity.”

“Brazil’s cuisine is incredibly varied and delicious, so the athletes definitely are missing out by not trying the local flavors when in the country,” said Ghosh.

But these busy athletes do have their own reasons over why they prefer McDonald’s.

The athletes standing in the enormous, never-ending queue for the fast food establishment told the Washington Post that they opt for the fast food chain because of the lack of variety in the cafeteria and the restaurant.

Not only that, but McDonald’s familiar menu names for its burgers and drinks are almost uniform everywhere in the world, not requiring athletes to fully explain themselves or struggle with the language barrier.

mcdonald's olympics
mcdonald's olympics

Dirty food?


Maybe it is not a case of being close-minded when opting for the familiar McDonald’s but fear of getting sick, especially amid shocking reports of human remains as well as dead animals floating in the country’s waters.

But both Ghosh and Marino have visited Brazil before and personally sampled the street food in the Latin American country.

The two considered most of the stalls in Brazil to be “hygienic.”

It’s just a matter of applying “the basic rules of common sense,” Ghosh advised.

“There are plenty of mid-range restaurants offering local cuisine that they could opt for, if they were going out of the village,” she recommended.

But then, reports have also surfaced of how athletes were robbed and punched in the face, maybe giving another reason why athletes are reluctant to venture out of the village.