One of the first places my host parents took me to eat was Pizza Hut. In China, I had heard that the Pizza Hut in America was different from ours.
I was surprised that there were not many choices for pizza, and no soup. But there were appetizers and desserts with strong American style. I was excited about those "new" appetizers and desserts, so I asked for the "American" ones: cinnamon sticks, chocolate brownies and garlic bread.
Then of course, we ordered pizza and drinks. The pizza and garlic bread didn’t surprise me. They tasted similar to those in China. But the cinnamon sticks! Before this, I never had anything cinnamon — we consider cinnamon a Western spice. I was amazed by how it tasted and smelled. It has such unique scent, which made me fall in love with it immediately.
After we finished our meal, the waiter brought us the bill. I was surprised by its decent price. "That’s it?" I said, "We ordered a lot of food!"
"Yes, we did," answered my host parents. "Pizza Hut in America doesn’t cost you a lot. It’s like a fast-food place where everyone goes."
The meals in the Pizza Hut in China are a lot more complicated. It is like a fancy, sit-down restaurant. It has new menus for different seasons, festivals and even different times and meals of day. It has different food styles; American, French, Italian and Chinese.
My host parents were amazed after I told them that our Pizza Hut has French baked snails, creamy clam soup, baked asparagus with bacon rolls and even cocktails. Desserts are also international; brownies from America, tiramisu from Italy, matcha (green tea) cake from Japan, parfait and puff pastry from France. There are different activities to attract customers’ interests: VIP cards and happy hours. The Chinese Pizza Hut offers birthday parties for kids, giving the kids choices of different national themes; American, Japanese and even Brazilian. They can make their own pizzas and food, and receive a birthday gift. I still remember that I asked to go there and celebrate my birthday with my friends when I was in elementary school. I chose the American style. The staff dressed us up with cowboy hats, boots and scarves. Nearly all kids in China love Pizza Hut not only because of their food, but also for their toys. Kids can get toys when there are festivals or special events from Pizza Hut. For example, Easter bunnies and colorful eggs are given in that season, and as a kid, I always begged my parents to take me there just for the bunnies. However, the one thing my parents don’t like is the wait time. The restaurant is always crowded, and the wait is long.
What makes these restaurants so different? The American Pizza Hut suits the American lifestyle, serving good food fast, simple and delicious without any fuss. Meanwhile the one in China is a fine-dining restaurant as well as a pizza joint, and a kid’s party place. Most importantly, the menus are different. China’s are more international with a lot of choices. America’s are more local.
Food in China is a big part of our lives. There’s a saying in China that there are three important questions in life. 1) What are we going to eat for breakfast? 2) What are we going to eat for lunch? 3) What are we going to eat for dinner?
I am enjoying learning about and tasting all sorts of new food here in America, some in restaurants and some made in the kitchen in our home. Every time I try something new, it is another adventure.