Egypt: A fast-food fast one
First came a lawsuit charging that Taco Bell's beef tacos were missing a key ingredient -- namely, the beef.
Now, Egyptians are reportedly upset with the American fast-food icon of chicken, KFC.
The Los Angeles Times' Raja Abdulrahim in Cairo tried to make sense of the complicated tale Tuesday ("KFC gets a bad rap in Egypt").
First, the good news (for KFC): The Colonel’s chicken is popular in Egypt, where it’s quaintly known as “Kentucky meals.”
The bad news? That’s twofold.
One, those “Kentucky meals” cost more than many Egyptians make in a day or even a week, Abdulrahim writes.
Meaning, I guess, that modern Egypt is akin to the mythical “San Angeles” in the 1993 movie “Demolition Man.” (This destined-to-be-classic film, you’ll recall, allowed Sylvester Stallone to showcase his comedic talents.) Anyway, in the movie, Stallone’s character saves the leader of the city, who, in gratitude, invites him out to its finest restaurant -- Taco Bell.
I don’t recall if the beef-filling issue came up at dinner.
More important for the latest news from Egypt, though, is that, as Abdulrahim writes, “KFC became a proxy for anger about perceived Western interference” in the anti-government protests sweeping Egypt.
That “Western interference” angle explains the consternation of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, who were upset by a rumor that they were being fed KFC.
Anti-Americanism runs deep among Egyptians. Times columnist Ronald Brownstein recently cited a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project poll in which just “17% of Egyptians expressed a favorable view of the U.S.”
So, in a nutshell: If you’re eating American food, you’re an agent of America, and Egyptians don’t like Americans, so they won’t like you.
And I thought the plot of “Inception” was hard to follow.
It proves, I guess, the lure of the conspiracy story. In America, we have the “birthers,” with their fixation on President Obama’s birth certificate.
In Egypt, we now have the “bucketeers.”
All I can say is, it’s a good thing Egypt didn’t have KFC when Gamal Abdel Nasser was seizing power. After all, Nasser was a colonel in the army, and Colonel Sanders founded KFC -– so, well, you understand, right?
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: Kentucky Grilled Chicken from KFC. Credit: Brian Bohannon / Associated Press