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City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
Good intentions. I went to Pizza Hut a while back. My waitress seemed like a nice, smart person. She spoke to me in her best English and I replied in kind. What pizza would you like? Pepperoni, please. What size? 12 inches. She was able to tell me that I would have my pizza in 20 minutes. So far, so good. When my pizza finally arrived, I noticed one small problem: it was a vegetarian pizza. I felt a good lesson in irrefutable logic was about to come my way.  “Excuse me, I ordered a pepperoni pizza and this is vegetarian.” “No, this is what you ordered.” “Um, it would be what I ordered if I ordered a vegetarian pizza but, fortunately for me, I ordered a pepperoni pizza.” “We don’t have pepperoni pizza so I brought you this instead.” “…. (blank stare) If you don’t have pepperoni pizza then why did you let me order it?”  “I thought this is what you wanted.”

Oh man, Chinese people really do try hard.  I’ll give ‘em that much but I think the reason for all of the extra unnecessary effort comes down to being terrified to deal with problems.  It is no secret that the Chinese do not like to approach problems head-on like Westerners me.  We dive right in and try to confront the situation (usually with spectacularly awkward results). Yeah, that doesn’t work here so well. The Chinese like to circumnavigate the problem from the periphery, avoid pointing fingers, stand around looking bored, and hope the problem goes away.  For the most part, it’s a pretty sweet strategy however this approach really can only be applied to doing the dishes or practicing piano. It becomes an extraordinarily very poor strategy when you apply it to situations that involve other humans.  It’s bound to fail because the guy that you’re talking to probably wants to get his pizza!!!!  However, the beauty of the strategy is that, when push comes to shove, it can’t fail. 

My waitress wasn’t being lazy.  Oh no, no, no, no.  Instead of confronting the problem and finding a solution to satisfy/mollify/pacify her customer, she decided the best course of action would be to try her hardest to figure out what I wanted and then act upon her decision.  If she makes a mistake then she can honestly say: But I tried my hardest!  I can only do my best!  Once again, this sort of argument works best for a six year old that doesn’t want to clean her room so she throws a few shirts in the closet and then tells her mother that she’s done.  Her mother can’t really get angry because her sweet little snookums is doing her best.

I don’t chalk up this encounter to a wonderful quirk of the Chinese and a humorous tale of overseas adventures.  Sure, it’s pretty easy for someone to say “Oh, why apply your foreign values to a foreign culture where said values don’t apply?  You are the guest and you live by your host’s rules.”  This kind of talk is usually met by a hate-filled stare and daydreams of ripping out that person’s spine.  This is not a cultural difference.  What we have here is a spineless food bag that is unable to do a simple task without fucking it up.  Here’s an idea when you don’t understand what someone has said to you, why don’t you say: Sorry, I didn’t hear that you stupid barbarian pig.  Alternatively, you can say: Read the fucking menu, dumbass.  We don’t have pepperoni pizza.  We have “American” pizza.

You’ll be shocked and amazed what a little bit of clarification can do.


Pizza (pronounced /ˈpiːtsə/ ( listen) or /ˈpiːdzə/; Italian: [ˈpit.tsa]) is an oven-baked, flat, disc shaped bread usually topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella and then a selection of meats, salamis, seafood, cheeses, vegetables and herbs depending on taste and culture.

The origin of the word "pizza" is unclear, but by 997 it had appeared in Medieval Latin, and in 16th century Naples a Galette  flatbread was referred to as a pizza. The pizza was a baker's tool: a dough used to verify the temperature of the oven. A dish of the poor people, it was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time.

Originating in Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become popular in many different parts of the world. A shop or restaurant that primarily makes and sells pizzas is called a "pizzeria". The phrases "pizza parlor", "pizza place" and "pizza shop" are only used in the United States and not in European cultures.

The innovation that gave us the flat bread we call pizza was the use of tomato as a topping. For some time after the tomato was brought to Europe by the Spanish Conquerors from the Americas in the 16th century, it was believed by many Europeans to be poisonous (as are some other fruits of the nightshade family).

However, by the late 18th century it was common for the poor of the area around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so the pizza was born. The dish gained in popularity, and soon pizza became a tourist attraction as visitors to Naples ventured into the poorer areas of the city to try the local specialty.

Our valuable Editor Mary Higgins has been with us since Tuesday, 24 November 2009.

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0 #5 ND 2010-06-01 12:10
blackfuzzi: yeah, there are indeed places here who do it quite well. but mostly you will find a several centimetres thick and sticky cheese-coffin on the pizzas. Cheese, cheese and cheese everywhere! :-D *yummy*
0 #4 Ian Clark 2010-06-01 11:54
Has anyone ever found a pizza place in China that actually puts pizza sauce on the pizza?
0 #3 Joao 2010-05-05 04:26
"Papa johns" is american style and not original/european. therefore we never accept and not like it.
0 #2 Faith 2010-05-05 04:09
Well, that's why you don't tip here,lol. Relax, next time try Papa Johns!
0 #1 Peter 2010-04-13 12:36
funny. the whole 'saving face' thing can be wonderously uninspiring at times.

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