Pizza Hut with Chinese Characteristics
Ok…truth be told, I’m one of those people that eat when I get nervous…not that there’s much to be nervous about right now…but anyways, yeah, I love to eat food, look at food, talk about food, or even just blog about food.*
And when I can discuss food together with my second favorite subject, architecture, well…man, that’s even better! Which explains the abundance of food commentary in this and the last post.
One of the things that I love about living in a new country is watching the translation of culture from one country to another. Thankfully China has provided plenty of this during the past year that I have lived here. Sadly, the majority of this is observing the transformation of America’s fast food culture as it gets repackaged for Chinese consumers. Imagine my pleasant surprise to show up at Pizza Hut and find that people have subversively transformed that great American tradition, the salad bar, into a performance art piece of epic architectural proportions.
There exist two primary reasons for this succulent mutation. First, when Pizza Hut first opened in China it was quite expensive compared to traditional Chinese restaurants. Therefore entire extended families would show up to Pizza Hut and order just one bowl of salad which required that some member of the family go up and chock that bowl as full of yummy goodness as possible. From then it turned into a mini-competition, which is the second reason for the mutation—the competition became popular, especially among young friends and couples. How tall, how beautiful, how diverse, and how tasty can you make your Pizza Hut salad?
The parameters are clear: in all of China only one size and shape of salad bowl is served at Pizza Hut. Therefore the site constraints are regulated at a national level. From there the only laws governing the procedure are the laws of physics: How tall can you make your salad tower without it falling over? How heavy can you make it and still safely transport it back to your table? I have seen people bring multiple friends to the salad bar to help mobilize their formerly static salad skyscrapers.
The architectural comparisons are pretty straightforward. Economic, structural, and aesthetic concerns drive the design and critique of these culinary creations. Only this time aesthetics do not appeal only to the sense of sight but are expanded to the senses of taste and smell as well.
One day I hope to have an skyscraper salad challenge between some of the architecture offices in Beijing...if that happens, I’ll be sure to post some images here on _URB_
*I don’t really need to get nervous to have an excuse to eat, I just through that in for literary effect.
Edible Architecture 2
Edible Architecture 1