Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Just Not Right

You know, I'm all about embracing cultural diversity and even fine with adapting things to fit the local scene. I've learned to live with, if not actually embrace, chicken ham and beef pepperoni. But there is a line beyond which it all just descends into abject lunacy.

Look at this thing. It's somehow called a pizza, and indeed, even served by the Malaysian version of Pizza Hut. But really... at what point do you just dispense with the traditional, familiar nomenclature and make up a new name for your creation? Just because it's flat and round doesn't mean it's a pizza.

I saw a commercial for this "Fish-Prawn King Pizza" on TV the other night and felt like I had slipped into an alternate reality. I've seen some pretty weird things offered up by the local Pizza Huts around here, but this one surely soars to the top of the list.

This culinary horror is made of tempura-fried shrimp, fried fish sticks, pineapple, and I guess there may or may not be some cheese used. Oh... yes, it specifies mozzarella cheese. Add some red bell peppers and some fake "crab sticks," lather them all up in a lime-mayonnaise dressing, and pile them on a crust and bake. Then garnish with lemons. The mind just boggles. And the stomach just heaves. Honestly, you can see why I don't go to Pizza Hut here, even though, as the ad insists, it's "SO WORTH IT!" At least it's an equal-opportunity offender, I guess. This faux pizza, in one go, manages to eviscerate the noble culinary efforts of, at a minimum, Italy, Japan, and Hawaii.

The ad is unintentionally funny, too... "Now you can get all the succulent prawns you want!" it proclaims. So, I guess before this promotion hit the market, there were succulent prawn limits. However, it goes on to say that the pizza comes with a whopping grand total of precisely four (4) of the aforementioned succulent prawns. And that's only if you buy the large. So, provided you're able to count higher than four, you really can't get all the succulent prawns you want, after all. Unless you just buy lots of these Fish Stick Shrimp and Pineapple Pizza Discs which you know look nothing in actual fact like they do in the photo, which somehow manages to make it look very nearly appealing. The wonders of commercial food photography.

In all fairness, this gastronomic explosion may actually taste okay... although I certainly wouldn't bet any money on it. And looking at some of the things American pizzerias have churned out definitely shows that this sort of experimentation isn't unique to Malaysia (witness the BBQ cheeseburger pizza and the taco pizza). This one, though -- I don't know. Is it the lime-mayonnaise dressing? Is it the humble fish stick being deified as if it's some culinary marvel? ("Specially-imported Alaskan pollock fish fingers!" -- It's a cheap frozen fish stick!! Get over it!) Is it the overturned bucket of beady-eyed dead shrimp littered across the table in the ad? Is it the kitschy little crown placed ever-so-cutely on the K in "KING"? Is it the ad's preposterous exhortation that four of anything somehow constitutes an "abundance"? Am I missing something? Is it me?

To quote everyone's newest life coach, Glee's Sue Sylvester, "Of course it's not me."

Ladies and gentlemen, the Fish-Prawn King Lime-Mayonnaise Pineapple Pizza. This is just one of a host of oddities and idiosyncracies I've noticed while living here. Every place has 'em. The next entry will detail some of Malaysia's.