Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Profound Trauma of Korean Blueberry Cream Cheese Pizza

I eat very well. Probably 75% of my food is an "8" or higher (using my surprisingly non-ditzy system for rating food and other things on a 1-10 scale), and something like 99% rates above a "6". But last night was quite a treat. I got to experience a full-fledged "2" ("Visceral negative reaction"). This doesn't happen every day.

A friend had been curious about the "gelato" pizza advertised by a shiny, flop-sweaty Korean lounge in the eastern extremes of Flushing. So here's how that went.

The underlying pizza was merely terrible, like a remaindered frozen pie from the Mama Celeste factory. Terrible hard dough, a cheese blend I believe was generic cheddar plus generic muenster, studded with puckered cherry tomato halves. A “3”. But, adding grievous insult to injury, it was festooned with wrong, very wrong shavings of fetid purple globs of blueberry cream cheese.

Hanging by a frickin' thread.

I didn't process the flavor. The revulsion was instant as some innate bodily process grabbed for a napkin and spat before my brain could even engage. For a solid half hour, I periodically air-flinched ala Derek Jacobi.

So what can we learn from this experience? I look at it like this: for these recent Korean immigrants, cheese is a signifier of hipster rebelliousness and the titillating allure of the culturally repulsive. A chef taking a steaming culinary dump via rude blobs of blueberry cream cheese on your pizza isn't a far worse proposition than regular old mozz. It's all treif, anyway. Our repugnance stemmed from a far more granular familiarity with the whole cheese thing than most clients at this place.

It wasn't cheap, either. The six small slices of this personal-sized pie, exuding an unholy moisture clearly visible in the vertiginous photo, ran us $20. But our reaction was one of such unmistakable nausea and anguish that the manager immediately dashed over (this was a first; in all my many years of dining out, I'd never before seen this move) to insist that we pay the check immediately because she, uh, [explanation dissolves into incoherence as she mumbles into her armpit]. She had us pegged for prospective walk-outs. Gotta get the money ASAP.

Of course we were totally going to pay. And tip, too. But as we departed, still lightly retching, I felt a surreal ambivalence. "This is what happens," obviously mused the entire staff as we walked out, "when white folks, who don't get it, come in here to eat." That's the very last impression I ever want to leave in an immigrant restaurant. I have eaten extreme things to avoid this dreaded gringo-ization.

But who, exactly, was the gringo this time?

1 comment:

Display Name said...

Well I was going to eat lunch soon Jim but the power of your words have made me decide to skip eating for now. I have to try to save my outdoor plants from the grim reaper frost tonight anyway. Tonight all the flowers die. Good thing I am well fortified from last night's sd indulgence: So we season a bunch of rib eyes with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then into the cooler over night. Next day they go into the smoker at a very low temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Finally, a few minutes in a 500 degree oven for crustification. Mmmmm.... crustification.... Comes with soup or salad and your choice of two sides.

Sammiches? Thin slice our prime rib and dunk in our house made jus, then onto a toasted and buttered Hearth Baker roll, white sauce and scallions. Un-be-lievable... Come git you some...

Blog Archive