I consumed it all in America this summer: wine, Mexican food, ice cream, hamburgers, chocolate, ribs, cakes, pizza, fries, Mexican food, beer, chocolate milkshakes, fried chicken, margaritas, Mexican food, and Mexican food.
But no fast food Chinese. No buffet Chinese. No volume Chinese by the scoop:
Looking at this sign, can one help but hear the thick, gelatinous, suction-y “scccchhhhlleeepppp!” the giant spoon makes as it levers out moist lumps of broccoli beef? I pulled up along side the “China Cafe” only long enough to take this picture before motoring off to “Miguel’s Baja Grill” for tomatillo-laced Mexican food.
Who is drawn to budget Americanized Chinese food in the middle of inland, small town American West? People who like value-priced, salty-sweet fat on top of refined carbs. Sometimes that’s me, but I prefer that flavor combination in the form of salty-tangy verde enchiladas with sweet-and-sour lime margaritas. Or in the form of french fries with a chocolate milkshake.
Thrifty Chinese food lovers in America are similar to people who visit Pizza Hut in China: they enjoy eating hearty helpings of a localized version of a “foreign” food. A version that hyper-concentrates the salt-sweet-grease trio. Pizza Hut in Hong Kong features a pizza unknown in America. A pizza that substitutes the more traditional tomato sauce with creamy-sweet “thousand island sauce” and is topped with sweet corn, prawns, pineapple and cheese. Salt-sweet-grease in modified form.
Those enjoying sweet-and-sour pork by the ladle in Moab, Utah are similar to the families I once watched at a Pizza Hut in Zhuhai, China: they are thrilled by the chance to stretch their dollar (or yuan) to the limit. Along with a pizza meal, one trip to the Zhuhai Pizza Hut salad bar was permitted. Each person was given a brown, modest-sized salad bowl. A bowl that many enterprising customers artificially enlarged by employing cantilevered watermelon wedges to create a rim that at least doubled the carrying-capacity of the salad bowl.
To take advantage of this taste for volume-sized, foreign food, someone in China’s Pearl River Delta might under-cut Pizza Hut’s price and open a shop like this:
- I have placed the fake “Golden Belly” sign in front of a real photograph of a liquor store in southern Utah. In the American state of Utah, one can only purchase alcohol (with the exception of 3.2% alcohol beer) in official State Liquor Stores (closed Sundays).
- The fake “Pizza Palace” sign is hanging off of a random storefront in the Gong Bei neighborhood of Zhuhai, China.
- The Chinese in “The Golden Belly” sign reads roughly: “The Fat American Restaurant.”
- The Chinese in “The Pizza Palace” sign reads roughly: “Pizza,” “Thousand Island Dressing! Salad Bar!” and “American-sized portions!”
- Please feel free to improve my Chinese.