One of the things I miss most in India is sarcasm, or more specifically, the chance to hate on something just for the fun of it. As a foreigner, I constantly feel the need to keep an open mind towards new and different ways of life. Sure, it’s respectful and allows for better cross-cultural understanding, but sometimes it can be a drag.
That’s why, on a recent Sunday afternoon, I was maliciously delighted to have lunch at Uncle Sam’s Pizza. Because the restaurant was named for the human embodiment of my native land, and because it was decorated with my country’s colors and symbols, I felt fully entitled to criticize without restraint.
I’d biked past U.S. Pizza dozens of times. It was directly along my route to Jodhpur’s old city. But until that afternoon, I’d never stooped low enough to try it.
Although the storefront displayed more red, white, and blue than a Fourth of July picnic, the interior was painted a putrid shade of orange, and a nauseating tilted mural of the Statue of Liberty loomed over the cash register. The place was cleaner than the average Jodhpur restaurant, but that was about all it had going for it.
I sat myself down at a table and flipped through a menu. It made for fascinating reading material. Here are some highlights:
No one in America has had a “funky party” since the 70s. And I highly doubt that Disney licensed a small Indian fast food chain to use its trademarked characters.
Many Indian menus butcher the English language with grammar and spelling errors, but this abuse is more deliberate, and thereby more egregious. It’s just so trite and pointless, with one painfully bad joke after another. I considered calling it “cheesy” but couldn’t handle any more pizza-related humor.
The pizza choices are legitimately interesting. They put an Indian spin on an American version of an Italian specialty (and the first option adds Spanish to the mix as well). Proof that the world’s cultures are now more interconnected than ever.
I can’t figure out exactly what this is supposed to mean, but it seems horribly inappropriate for a family restaurant.
I was willing to write off the menu and the décor as odd, endearing quirks until I tried the pizza itself. While the cheese was tolerable, the sauce was basically a thin layer of ketchup, and the crust tasted like a damp sponge. It reminded me of a low-end microwave pizza in the States. I can accept that India doesn’t have great American food—the Indian food more than compensates—but a place that sells almost exclusively pizza should have a decent signature product, especially if they’re going to slap my country’s image on it.
I left the restaurant with an unsettled stomach and a sense of patriotic outrage. How dare they insult the U.S. with such a substandard product? Had anyone in charge of that place eaten real pizza before? Did the patrons know what they were missing? It felt good to complain again, like a true American.