Several years ago, the internet gave me the gift of one of the most miraculous commercials I have ever seen in my life. Just watch, and we’ll discuss.
Now, there are many, many things I could and have discussed in that commercial, but the most important is that there are superfluous cheeseburgers in the crust of that pizza. Something like this would normally end up in contention alongside deep-fried butter and Golden Corral for the This Is Why America’s Fat prize, but this isn’t even in America! Is this what other countries think we normally eat? Or are they fully embracing the batshit culinary craziness we’re capable of? Are we the bad influence that will eventually take down all of humanity through sodium and trans fats?
This also enlightened me to the fact that Pizza Hut is, sadly, the ambassador of American-style pizza around the world. For the love of God, they’re in Malta. Malta! A tiny Mediterranean island with fewer people than Mesa, Arizona, which I’m guessing that at least 70 percent of you forgot was even a country. No matter how far you run, you cannot escape Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut’s website kindly links to the menus of all its international locations, so I was able to do some investigating and see what we’re missing out on here stateside. Are they brilliant? Horrific? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
China: Durian pizza
You knew that China was going to turn it out, because they always do in the food department. They have no shortage of options that are making me consider jumping on a plane to Beijing posthaste: bacon-wrapped scallop pizza, bacon-wrapped shrimp pizza, bacon-potato salad pizza (they apparently appreciate the good stuff over there).
But the most intriguing pizza by far is the durian — aka the corpse flower of the produce department. An old Southeast Asian saying describes it as “hell on the outside, heaven on the inside.” Many love it for its custardy texture and a taste that’s both savory and sweet. Everyone on Earth hates the fact that it literally smells like a dirty litter box that’s been left out in the hot sun for six weeks.
Finland: Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pizza
Finland had one of the few menu websites that would not translate to English, which made me wonder what sorts of secrets they held, trying to keep out all the non-Finnish speakers. Not being deterred — because this is my job, after all, and very serious business — I proceeded to transcribe their most premium pizza into Google Translate:
beef, pepperoni, ham, chicken, tuna, shrimp, bacon, blue cheese, feta cheese, extra cheese, fresh onion, fresh mushrooms, fresh pepper, fresh chili, olives, pineapple, fresh tomato, zucchini, arugula, jalapeño, pesto sauce
Then I realized the reason they were hiding it — this is disgusting, and they are ashamed of themselves. As they should be.
Iceland: Topped with raspberry jam
Speaking of dubious Scandinavian decisions, this is the country you want to visit when you want to take a four-cheese pizza with jalepeños and cover it with raspberry jam. These are also the people who consider fermented, rotting shark a delicacy, so I suppose it’s a step up.
Gibraltar: Chicken Maryland
A: Didn’t know this was a country.
B: They make a pizza with a crust made entirely of pigs in a blanket.
C: But their specialty pizza is “Chicken Maryland: traditional Maryland recipe with sweetcorn.” I just moved to Maryland about a month ago and have yet to encounter this dish, but I learned that it’s a popular dish in the U.K. that consists of fried chicken, creamed corn, fried bananas and pineapple rings.
D: Finally I found something born in the U.S. that was completely botched by the U.K. instead of the other way around!
Japan: The Tasty Star
Japan has a very intriguing pizza called The Tasty Star and also has an English language option on its website. The description reads:
Autumn no gourmet stars four with honey maple. Very popular No star PizzaNo 2nd! “MiMi” Ni4 species No pole wrapped UMa ingredient star-shaped dough Ni, Baraete
I put that last part into several online translators, and none could identify its language of origin, meaning that once again, Japan is screwing with me, getting me all pumped for something I can never have and will never be able to replicate. Goddamn it, Japan. Stop being so cool. It’s not fair to the rest of the countries.
Korea has no translate button, Google is not giving me any translate option, and the pizzas look amazing. They are obviously in cahoots with Japan to break my spirits.
Singapore: 7 cheese-stuffed puff pastry crust pizza
You’ve had four-cheese pizza, you’ve had stuffed, but are you ready for the insanity of seven cheese-stuffed puff pastry crust pizza? That’s right: Emmenthal, cheddar, Parmesan, Edam, Gouda, mozzarella and cream cheese, together at last. No one thought these cheeses had any reason to be together, but Pizza Hut was like, “You can’t tell us what to do! There’s enough cheese when we say there’s enough cheese! Come to think of it, how about a side dish of cheese fondue served with Gouda sausage? How the fuck do you like that?” And everyone was like, “Yo, calm down, Pizza Hut Singapore. It’s cool with all the cheeses, OK? You do you.”
Australia: Flavors of Rio?
Currently Pizza Hut Austraila has Olympic fever and is running a limited-time Flavors of Rio menu. It is its regular menu, except every pizza also has a can of kidney beans poured on top of it. I know a bit about Brazilian food, and I honestly have no idea what the basis of this is. Maybe somebody in corporate accidentally ordered a few thousand pallets of kidney beans and couldn’t return them.
Luxembourg: You so fancy
You want to go to the fanciest goddamn Pizza Hut on planet Earth? Get your ass to Luxembourg, a country where everyone is so freaking rich I have no idea why they’re eating at Pizza Hut in the first place. Witness.
- Gorgonzola and pear: Gorgonzola sauce, pear, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, arugula, nuts and balsamic cream.
- Brie and honey garlic bread: Garlic bread topped with Brie and drizzled with honey.
- Ice cream profiteroles: Tempting little morsels of choux pastry filled with vanilla ice cream and served with the mouthwatering sauce of your choice — red berries or chocolate. Served with whipped cream.
- $15 salad bar: For 15 bucks, that lettuce must be dayum fancy.
I don’t drink alcohol, so I cannot speak for the quality of their extensive wine list or top-shelf cocktails, but they’ve got some $50 bottles on that, so maybe it’s OK?
Hong Kong: Thousand Island Seafood Pizza
I swear to God, when I go off on these crazy searches for international food, I don’t know why I even bother looking at any place but Hong Kong. I won’t go into the full explanation of why Hong Kong has the most insane and glorious cuisine in the entire world — you’re just going to have to trust me that it does, a million times over. I look at this menu, and I have no idea what’s going on. It is cheesy schizophrenia. The menu looks like it was created by pumping Bjork full of LSD, throwing her into a pizza kitchen and taking notes.
At Pizza Hut Hong Kong, you can order all this in one sitting:
- Mussels in white wine sauce
- Full rack of barbecue baby back ribs
- Fried shrimp balls
- Baked escargots with puff pastry
- Mashed potatoes with clams
- Cheese-baked asparagus
- Cheesy lava ribs with crispy cheese bread
- Lobster bisque en croute
Note that none of these is pizza. So let’s see what is!
- Thousand Island Seafood Pizza: Tuna, crabstick, shrimp, chicken, pepperoni, mushroom, corn, Thousand Island dressing
- Crayfish Delight: Crayfish, “seafood,” pepper, peaches, honey mustard-tartar sauce
- Scallop Passion: Scallops, baby scallops, crabstick, red onion, pepper, frisée, mayo, lemon-honey mustard sauce, cheese-stuffed roulette crust
As absolutely crazy as all this sounds, there are over 7 million people in Hong Kong, and they think this shit is delicious. What sort of brilliance are our American eyes blind to? Why is Pizza Hut not taking us to the edge of flavor in the USA? What is it going to take for Pizza Hut to send for me so I can become its global ambassador, preaching its brilliance to all the children of the world?