My Chinese colleagues regularly enjoyed taking me to their own local favorite restaurants and squealing in delight as they’d make me sample traditional fare – including bugs, rodents, snakes, dog, cat, offal, blood, bile, camel, bear, monkey and more.
“Revenge” seemed the order of the day, so knowing that the Chinese (or at least Cantonese) had no palate for cheese, I would, on occasion, take them to the Sunday buffet at one of the local 5 star western style hotels, where “we’d” have great fun with the dessert cheese platters, featuring fine Roqueforts, Stilton, Limburger and more.
After the first bite, my colleagues almost felt they were being punished for some wicked infraction, as their faces curled up, followed by an occasional tear or two at the mere taste of these fine imported dairy products.
Yum Brands apparently knew about the cheese aversion, because the first Pizza Hut menus referred to “Melted Topping” on the pizzas. This is apparently not the case any more, as noted with this clip from a current Chinese menu.
Apparently gone are the days when the “American special pizza,” across Europe and Asia, meant a sprinkling of sweet corn kernel on the pie.
(Not as bad as the first “American” pizza I had in Shenzhen, China, which was bits of seafood with thousand island instead of tomato sauce. Ugh.)
Location or language aside, my Chinese employees loved going to Pizza Hut for the entirely new thing of the “salad bar,” which to them, presented not an option for a meal starter or addendum, but rather a challenge as to their architectural and construction skills, in seeing how high they could pile a plate with just one trip.
The local manager put a stop to this by positioning a soldier near the bar, happy to issue a stink eye at any offenders. And more likely, it was actually a relative in military uniform.
It was a fun and interesting time to be a westerner in China, there weren’t many of us, and we worked, played, lived and loved with a passion and curiosity unsurpassed since.
Pizza Hut China