June 18, 2010 Leave a comment
Bleary-eyed as I picked up today’s newspaper, the insert fell out. I normally don’t bother to read the inserts but this being an insert of a pizza outlet, I decided to preserve one. You never know when you may need to go the “pizza way” for dinner.
The insert was for US Pizza another popular joint of the ever-hungry cosmopolitan city, Bangalore. Even the name change to Bengaluru hasn’t in my humble view, ‘kannadized’ the city as much as the politicians may have wanted to.
Along with the regular combo offers, the one that really caught my eye was the new offering named “Pav Bhaji Pizza”.
It set me thinking about my own pizza experiences. I got to know about something called “pizza” when I was possibly into my Higher Secondary (Hello Gen-Next, please know that there was a time when there were no computers at home, you HAVE to believe me). Along with a group of friends we would pool in about three hundred rupees and travel all the way from Chromepet to Egmore to have a pizza. The ‘Alsa Mall’ in Egmore was the only place which had a pizza outlet. The distance from Chromepet to Egmore was roughly about 50 kms wherein today you may find 10 outlets in a radial distance of 50 kms.
Both me and the pizzas have come a long way indeed. J
Suddenly as IT boomed and more foreigners started visiting IT companies, the demand for pizza went up. Also some expats decided to live in India after confirming that the country isn’t just about snake charmers. J
Pizza Corner and Pizza Hut happened just as the demand for pizzas grew exponentially. In a bid to grow the market further, these outlets started appealing to the locals by offering “Home Delivery”. With 24 hour channels and pizzas delivered home, the process of converting Indians into couch potatos had well and truly begun.
In a country where delay is the norm, the bold move of these outlets to “assure a delivery time” (or offer it free) took India by surprise. It is a track record that these outlets have been maintaining but for some minor slippages.
Indians have an unique problem. While we may want to experiment everything (including testing a park bench carrying a placard – “Fresh paint, don’t sit”) because we want first hand experience, we soon long for more of the same.
Even if we have the best of pizzas and pastas for a week, the next week, we would long for a Dal, Rice, Sambhar, Bisibele bath, Pesarattu, Paratha, Hilsa, Vadapav, Biriyani, Tikka, Tandoori etc..
It isn’t too difficult to understand why. The Indian palate is one of the most intricate and complex due to the whole variety of spices that goes into our cuisine. It is a well recognized fact that pairing wines for Indian cuisine is one of the most challenging assignments of a wine expert given the fact that the strong masalas could “kill the taste and texture” of the wine.
The pizza outlets have understood the phenomenon of the Indian palate very well. The pizza vendors started “indianizing” the pizzas by introducing Punjabi variants of tikka, tandoor and paneer and now the pav bhaji.
I suspect more regionalization of the pizzas is on the anvil. The day isn’t far when we could have a “Andhra Biriyani Pizza” or a “Kerala Coin Pizza” or a “Nattu kozhi pizza”. The indianization will be complete when the outlets would start offering “Mishti doi” or a “kheer” as dessert or perhaps a ‘Thandai’ for a drink. Already the hors d’oeuvres have been customized to include Chicken winglets etc. suited to Indian taste buds.
The process of indianization of the pizza joints is yet another reminder of the fast pace of “Globalization” which threatens to replace traditional Indian food and make Indians gobble more pizzas and pastas. The process will be complete when some of the Indian delicacies find their way back to the western world.
It is not just a “Flat world” that Globalization is ushering in; it is also a “fat, cheesy and spicy world”.