Our Pizza Stinks

The new Domino’s campaign is hilarious. That’s the one where we see the pizza giant respond to customers who hate their product.

Some people will say this is brilliant. “Look at Domino’s being responsive to the customers! See! They’re listening to the public and taking action. Wow! Domino’s is awesome!”

Or you can look at it the way I do: Domino’s is so incredibly clueless and indifferent that they had NO IDEA people thought their pizza was awful. Either that or they didn’t care. And now? They are desperate.

The best part is their Pizza Turnaround blog, where Domino’s allows mostly unmoderated comments on their posts and a live Twitter feed. I have never seen the word “sucks” appear so many times on one page. And many of the people who comment are customers who say they liked the old recipe and can’t stand the improved pizza. A few of the 1000+ opinions:

I just ordered two boxes to try the new recipe, can you say refund. This new stuff taste “disgusting”.

Ordered the new pizza a week ago, cheese was sliding of box was saturated with grease and the herbs were way to overpowering. Honestly tasted like something i would get from a gas station quick stop.

I loved your “old” pizza. After weeks of seeing you new add, I convinced my husband to give it a try. It sucked! The crust was gooey, it was the worst pizza we ever had. We each had 2 pieces and threw the rest out.

So what now, Domino’s?

Back at SUNY Plattsburgh we didn’t have the internet, so students had to be creative in expressing their distaste for Domino’s. They’d wait for the delivery man to to pull up in front of a dorm in his little Datsun pickup truck –and when he went inside with his pizza, a gang of people would run out and turn the truck over on its side. Now that’s a comment.

Transylvania 6-5000

Remember the movie “Borat?” The village at the beginning of the film was supposed to be Kazakhstan, but the producers couldn’t find a place in Kazakhstan backwards enough to be Borat’s home town. So they went to Romania. And Romania is where I may be going next summer.

My wife’s family escaped from the Transylvania region of the Eastern European country before the communists took over —but she’s quick to remind you that her people were ethnic Hungarians, not Romanian. After all, Hungarians would never allow their trains to be a mess like those described here in the Rough Guide to Romania:

Tickets are incredibly cheap, but this is offset by the habitually derelict carriages, bizarre timetable and sweltering/freezing conditions. Often crowded, trains frequently lack light and water, making long journeys somewhat purgatorial.

OK, so the trains aren’t great —but how about the food? I’m looking forward to trying the muschi ciobanesc, which is pork stuffed with ham, covered in cheese, and served with mayo and cucumbers on the side. Mmmmmm… pork stuffed with ham.

Anyhow, an adventure like this takes planning so I hope you’ll join me here as I prepare for my journey to the armpit of Europe.

Nobody Goes Camping for the Food

MB_CookingA Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Culinary geniuses they ain’t.

After spending a weekend with my son’s Boy Scout troop on a tailgate camping trip I’ve decided that it will be my personal mission to see every one of these fine young men earn his Cooking Merit Badge. Hey, I’m not fussy -and I love bacon, hot dogs, hamburgers, runny eggs, potato chips, and donuts as much as the next guy- but it is my belief that an important measure of manhood is found in the kitchen.

Just stop by my firehouse if you don’t believe me. Cooking is a skill that’s rated very highly in the firefighting community. We’ve got plenty of guys who can throw a ladder or swing an axe, but if you can make dinner for forty people? That’s something special.

Boys it’s time to cook. And remember: this isn’t just about preserving the health of your adult leaders, it’s about impressing girls.

Summer’s Bounty

A week ago the contents of this jar were resting comfortably in a Kinderhook, NY strawberry patch. The peas were nestled in their pods like… well, like peas in a pod. The weather’s been miserable this season for humans but the fruits and vegetables seem to be having a wonderful time.

I’ve written before about how people accustomed to supermarkets enjoy spending a few hours harvesting their own food. As we plucked strawberries, picked peas, pulled garlic from the dirt, and filled baskets with cherries we could see the farmhands doing their chores. Like us they kept an eye on the thunderheads that have been with us every day.

The foreign workers our farms rely on must think it weird that the gringos come out to the fields and do this for fun. It would be interesting to trade places for a day with one of them. I get the feeling that we’d each be eager to get back to our real jobs by the end of the day.

Kanine Korner

Dogs have so many charming habits: drinking from toilets, butt licking, rolling in dead fish, feasting on garbage… there are really too many to list here. But few things are more off-putting than poop eating. You may not find the idea of eating poop very appealing, but some dogs can’t get enough of it —and it’s such an issue that there are products to make them stop, like Doctor’s Foster and Smith Extra Strength Dis-Taste.

As it says in the catalog: “Improved formulas created by our veterinarians help break the disturbing habit of stool eating.”

Oh, yes disturbing and disgusting. Nauseating, even. So how does this miraculous cure work? “Digestive aid helps by making feces taste awful to your dog.”

That’s right: in the world of dogs up is down, right is wrong, two plus two equals five, and poop tastes like filet mignon.

One caveat: this product must be given to the dog whose poop is being eaten —not the dog doing the eating. Unless they are one in the same of course. And this won’t stop your dog from eating cat poop. If Fido considers it his job to keep the litter box tidy you will need For-Bid, which is advertised as making cat crap taste bad. Who knew we needed special stuff to do that?

Now go give your dog a big kiss on the mouth.

Get My Goat

I love goats. Wait… what I mean is that I find them amusing and aesthetically pleasing, not that I literally love them. But yes, I am a goat lover. In my experience goats are sweet natured animals that are brimming with personality  —so when I unfolded the NY Times and saw this headline, I perked right up:

How I Learned to Love Goats

Above it was a big picture of a goat looking into the camera. Ha! Look at the goat. And above that was the name of the section: Dining.Whoa! That headline didn’t say Goats, it said Goat —and the story was all about appreciating the flavor of goats not their adorable behavior.

I was dumbfounded. How could someone kill and eat one of these lovely animals? That would be like eating a dog. But according to the article, more people worldwide eat goat than any other meat. And I must admit, as a dedicated carnivore some of the recipes do look intriguing. But no, I’m not going there.

There’s no explanation for why goats hold sway over me. Cows, sheep, chickens, pigs? No problem. Goats? Never.

I dream sometimes of a home with a little land where there are no neighbors breathing down my neck. It would be wonderful to sit outside in the morning and drink my coffee and greet the day with the goats.

(You can read the article here. The online version includes the word Meat in the headline.)

Fisher of Men

You’ve all probably see the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish commercial. The delightfully weird jingle in the spot is on everyone’s lips —but what’s really interesting are the commercial’s obvious religious overtones. At a time when corporate America shys away from religious imagery McDonald’s is doing just the opposite.

The fish has been used to represent Christianity since the earliest days of the faith —and in the commercial the mechanical fish, like Jesus, is delivering a message. That the fish is mounted on wood -in the way Jesus is depicted on a crucifix- may be heavy-handed but is a reference to the most ubiquitous and powerful image in Christendom.

And those men in the commercial? The burly guy bopping his head is clearly a stand in for the apostle Peter, who was the among the first to encounter Jesus after his resurrection (Luke 24:34). Peter is thought to be the most impulsive and expressive of the apostles, so his behavior in the the scene is true to form. The guy with the drill? Look at the incredulous expression of disbelief on his face. He could be none other than Thomas who doubted that Jesus had risen from the tomb (John 20:25).

From a marketing standpoint, it’s no mistake that this commercial is running during Lent, a time that many Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays. What’s surprising is that McDonald’s would employ such a clear Christian allegory in its advertising —especially during the most significant season on the liturgical calender. Discuss among yourselves.


Nuts to Trader Joe’s

The first draft of this had an extremely impolite title but I cleaned it up. So why nuts to Trader Joe’s?

There are a bunch of people in the Capital Region crusading to get trendy supermarket Trader Joe’s to open a store in the area. They have a website to get Trader Joe’s. They took a field trip to Massachussetts to visit Trader Joe’s. They engage in grassroots action, such as applying bumper stickers to their cars and wearing t-shirts. And they go on the offensive when anyone points out that Trader Joe’s isn’t quite as pure and wonderful as they think it is.

That’s what happened when Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner mocked the Trader Joes’s fanatics — and connected the dots between Trader Joe’s and their owner, Aldi Foods.  Aldi is the un-chic discount grocery that drove WalMart out of Germany. Well, to paraphrase what  General Anthony McAuliffe famously told the Germans at Bastogne:  nuts to Trader Joe’s.

My advice to those obsessed with Trader Joe’s: go get a life. Me? I’m holding out for the We Want Wegmans club to start up.