Is it OK to eat Domino’s Pizza abroad?
So there I was, walking through the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s 10pm so it’s dark, it’s raining so it’s wet and it’s Hanoi so, naturally, it’s busy as all hell. Despite all this I have a big grin on my face. I’m walking hand in hand with the wife, speeding past all the late night revelers, street vendors and scooter-jams. I’m excited that we’re heading home early and all because we have something that they don’t. There is a reason I am smiling like a maniac and, almost, skipping down the street and dancing past the party-people. I have a special treat in my hand. A Domino’s pizza. A big, f* off, cheesy meatfeast that’s bigger than my head. Garlic doughballs big enough to choke a donkey. And a side of wedges wedgie enough to bring a tear to Calvin Klein’s beady little eyes.
As I sit on the bed flicking through a million channels all speaking a foreign tongue, I pour myself a cola, sit back and stare at my pizza.
The Domino’s Dilemma Strikes
“Is this right?” I ponder. We’re 12 hours from home and here I am eating pizza that I can buy 12 minutes from home. What have I come to Vietnam to experience? Pizza?! An American take on an Italian classic decided on by a board of Vietnamese executives and served by an underpaid Asian student? What kind of funky modern traveler am I?!
Domino’s is Not OK.
Is this travelling? Is this experiencing the world? When we picked up the pizza we must have passed 20 local restaurants, umpteen street food vendors and generations of struggle.
I haven’t even gone for an ‘Asian Sensation’ or even a ‘Vietnamese BangBang’. I’ve gone for my usual; the meat feast. Very original. The pizza tastes just like at home. There’s no broadening of horizons here. No fresh herbs, no Oriental spices and no crouching tigers or hidden dragons to be found.
I feel like I’ve let myself down. In fact, I’ve let Vietnam down.
Actually, Domino’s Probably is OK.
But actually, it’s exactly what I wanted. A taste of home. Good old fashioned salty, fatty, cheesy goodness that my body craves. Our palettes and our cravings cannot be universal, they are a product of the region that we are familiar with. I needed this hit from home to get me back on track again.
We’d have 4 straight days of Vietnamese food and there was still 2 weeks left to indulge. That’s 4 days of pork and chicken. That’s 4 days of questionable meat and sanitary vagueness. At one restaurant a guy told me that I was eating ‘dogck’ . I said “dog?!” he said “dogck“, I said “woof?” he said “quack“. I’m still not sure if it was dog, duck or some kind of hybrid waterhound. That’s 4 days of dodging diarrhea. Yuk. That’s right, I’ve said it. It’s inevitable when abroad really, but so far so good…
But the main reason for the Domino’s was the feeling that had been hanging over me all day. The mind-and-body altering hangover that had hovered above my body all day like a dark cloud. We had enjoyed a phenomenal night in Le Theatre 1900 and today we were paying for it. I needed this Domino’s and afterwards I had never felt better.
When you’re abroad and you look around the cuisines available you will find local cuisine, Italian, american, Chinese, Indian. No matter where in the world you are. The locals know that tourists crave variety and it’s unreasonable to assume a customer would want the same delicacy day-after-day. This week alone (in London) I’ve had a Thai, Indian, English and Italian…. all home cooked. Variety is the spice of life and it should not be neglected; but so is comfort food. Comfort food can set you up for the day, week or month ahead. It can regroup you and prepare you for what’s ahead.
So next time you’re abroad and you’re wondering if it’s OK to eat a bit of comfort food….jump straight in. Plus next time you see a manic, dancing, skipping tourist with a bag in his hand take a closer look, take a whiff and perhaps you’ll find he’s found his favourite pizza joint. Or maybe he’s got himself some ‘dogck’ .
What’s the craziest foreign food you’ve tried? Are you a meat and two veg sort of traveller? Do YOU do dominos abroad? I’d love to hear more in the comments below….
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