Friday, July 13, 2012

Domino's "American" offerings (product info.)

Images from Domino's Japan site

People often scoff at what passes for foreign cuisine in American restaurants. They deride Americans for sullying the food purity of other cultures to suit their pedestrian tastes. What they don't talk about, and yet remains a fact, is that all other cultures do exactly the same thing. I've heard that there is an "American" pizza sold in Italy which has French fries piled on it as a topping. That's okay because I've seen that same pizza in Japan that was also billed as "American pizza". Though it is possible that some place in the U.S. does offer such a pie, I have never seen it here. French fries are from Belgium. Pizza is Italian. Putting French fries on pizza is not something Americans do. I'm not sure how the components of this foodie equation add up to anything "American".

While I am bemused at the foods that get called "American" in Japan, I'm not really bothered. Well, that's not exactly true. I only became bothered when students would insist that I ate things I never ate because they ordered things at restaurants which ostensibly originated in my home culture. I don't like being told what I eat by people who have never watched me consume a morsel, especially when they're telling me I eat a lot of trash that I don't eat. If we're going to ascribe junk food to my diet, then at least let it be the nutritionally deficient morsels that I'm actually consuming and not the slapdash efforts of restaurants and food manufacturers which they are offering as "American" food to non-Americans.

The thing that never bothers me is the idea of authenticity. I don't care if other cultures take some original American food and give it a native twist. In fact, I say, more power to you because it's interesting to see what they do to suit their palates. When I discovered that Domino's Pizza in Japan was offering up a "Great American" pizza, I prepared to exercise my wit on just how outlandish the toppings were going to be. I'm afraid that they disappointed me. 

The pizza is what they call a "quattro" in Japan, which means that it has 4 different sets of toppings. In this case, each portion is supposed to represent a different area in the U.S., Hawaii,  Philadelphia, Texas, and California. As a native Pennsylvanian, let me say that I am bemused by the fact that only one region is known by a city name rather than the state name. That's because Japanese people are familiar with the city of Philadelphia, but not the state of Pennsylvania. 

As a little game, my readers may want to ask themselves what sort of toppings they'd guess represent each of these areas. For instance, you know that pineapple will be on anything which calls itself Hawaiian. The topping for that section is simply called "tropical", but it is pretty much ham and pineapple. Philadelphia is "Philly cheese steak". California is a little harder to guess, except for the fact that we know anything "California" has avocado and this does (along with shrimp, which doesn't strike me as very Californian). Of course, if it were truly authentic, it should include some weed. Texas is represented by chipotle chicken. All in all, they let me down because there is nothing there for me to point and laugh at as a funky distortion of American food culture. 

Beyond this American offering, they are also selling "black chili", which oddly is not black at all. It looks like pretty normal red/brown chili. The lesson to take away from this is one that I learned a long time ago and that is not everything in Japan is weird. We tend to see the funky stuff because it is unusual and much of the time, what you're not seeing is run of the mill. 

However, if it makes you feel any better, they still put corn and mayonnaise on their pizza. The original quattro pizza includes not only mayo, but broccoli as well. And the concept of a quattro, which divides a smallish pizza (even the large pizzas are small in Japan) into 4 sections because Japanese people value novelty, is about as Japanese as it gets.


Rodzilla said...

I'm a native PA guy myself. I suppose they could have done a Primantis-esq segment with fries and coleslaw.

As for bastardized "American" fare, when my sister was traveling abroad in Spain, her host cut up pieces of hot dog to put on top of her version of Pizza.

Orchid64 said...

Putting hot dogs on a pizza is disgusting, but at least it does bring on America to a greater extent. ;-)

Anonymous said...

This is very unrelated, but I found something a bit similar to Cheeza at a Mitsuwa last night: it's called "Cheesalt," and it's sort of a peanut-shaped, cheesy rice-and-wheat cracker. Definitely worth picking up if you wind up living near one of these stores.

miyazaki said...

When I was living in Japan and went to a "Shakey's" pizza parlor. I had these places growing up in Southern California. The one in Japan was the worst pizza ever! I saw your post and looked up the Domino's page, 3280yen for that pizza, about $42 US. My friends were shocked to think that a Domino's pizza could ever be that much...