Every week generally on a Tuesday night I treat my kids to a meal out. It’s a bit of time for us to spend together and chat about school, their digital existence, and life. I like to give them the choice of where we can chow down, but I draw the line at McDonalds. There’s something about the Golden Arches that doesn’t sit well with me: the unhealthy injection of sebaceous fat with every meal, the digital menus on huge screens to order your food that some have touched with their unwashed hands after defecating and the business model with their highly expendable work force, but most notably it’s the fucking disgusting and inedible food. When I do relent to them in moments of paterfamilias weakness and ‘treat’, isn’t that the oddest term for digesting anti-health fat fast food from any Ronald eatery staining the country, I try a fry and instantly realise why I never eat there. I don’t relish chips tasting like deep fried cardboard. And another reason is that I don’t eat meat, but that my friends is a whole other article.
And so, on this particular night we opted for pizza, another health fucking miracle and usually if opting for Italianesque cuisine we find ourselves in Luben’s Pizza Restaurant that sits on the cusp, the borderline of Folkestone’s high street where the old desecrated corporately destroyed town like many others across the country meets the new funded small-business thriving old high street that leads tourists and locals to the beach. Luben’s pizzas are in fact extremely tasty, beautifully presented and have a touch of authenticity if you ever find yourself in Folkestone and want to dine Italiano style.
So yes, the kids decided on pizza and wanted to go to Pizza Hut rather than Luben’s. I could feel my toes curling up instantly. Everything in my being was rejecting the very notion but it had been quite a few years since I made my last heinous mistake of visiting the world of Pizza Hut and so clearly it was time for my next cuisine blunder just to keenly remind me of what a waste of a meal, money, and time it really is, but also to reinforce what a glowing example it is of everything that I vehemently hate about Western culture.
Let’s first talk about where it is located. Parallel to the motorway in Ashford there lies a concrete enclave of corporations. KFC, McDonalds, Beefeater, Nandos, Frankie and Benny’s, Chiquitos, Bannetynes, Travelodge, Cineworld and Pizza Hut. If you ever wanted to visit a place to study wage labour and the expendable work force fill your boots here to the sound of the cars shooting past at high speeds on the adjacent M20. It’s a vile exemplification of capitalism where you can step into a uniform, ask for permission to go to the toilet and dehumanise yourself for minimum wage. Stalin would have been incredibly envious at the ease of control these companies have over their workforce.
On entering the ‘pizza joint’, which seems too much of a slang term or euphemism for such a corporate eatery, my daughters and I were hosted and served by a girl who couldn’t have been any older than 17, in fact as I took a cursory glance around the incredibly gaudy surroundings, none of the staff looked any older than 17, or so it appeared. She opened by informing us that Pizza Hut doesn’t accept cash now, only card. Is this something left over from COVID? I don’t know, but it could be a sign of the no cash society that is clearly on the corporate horizon. Then it was explained that no one takes orders here (has Pizza Hut turned over a new leaf, left its capitalist ideals behind and gone for a more co-operative work structure, after all the colour scheme is very red) but no, she meant the ordering of PH’s highly artificial ersatz comestibles. I needed to go online and order. Which I did after we were seated in our booth. Now before we arrived, I was extremely underwhelmed, but at that moment I felt myself going so far under that I was drowning by the time we sat. We went through the digitised menu which is cumbersome and painful as I watched the price go up with each tap of the screen. I already knew then it was going to be shit and the kids too had an inkling that the nosh was going to be below par… Very below par. Just before I made the payment I’m asked if I want to add a tip. What for?! Nothing has happened yet for me to tip. You usually pay at the end of a meal based on the food, service and overall experience. No! Fuck you Pizza Hut your inauthentic food is already incredibly overpriced. Here’s a tip, pay your fucking staff above minimum wage! I don’t mind tipping and tip regularly but seriously not before the meal has even arrived.
A waitress brought us our ‘bottomless’ glasses to go with our meals and pointed to where we could find the salad bowls for the salad counter. The Fordism approach has definitely been adopted here removing every possible needless movement or time-wasting action, in fact waiter or waitress would be a false job title in this establishment, the staff are more like cleaners or servers unfortunately now that PH has removed all need for them to properly wait on customers thus creating a friendly environment, but that isn’t what PH is about. Its whole and only reason for existence is money. I actually don’t think it will be long until the pizza just pops out the wall for the patrons to collect themselves alerted by a fucking ping on an app!
We plough through our salad before the meal is brought to us, it’s very poor quality, incredibly impoverished, designed for mass consumption, there is nothing special about it at all. While waiting for our pizzas and chomping on salad I look around the cheese-on-toast outlet. Everything about it is fake, there is nothing homely, nothing natural, nothing human about it. It is completely devoid of spirit, of humanity, it is a fake experience on every level. It’s all bright lights and tacky colours with absolutely no substance much like the food we are waiting for. Everything looks good on the outside (that’s debatable), but on the inside it’s just fucking dull. It reminds me of Britain’s Got Talent, Love Island, The Voice and more: Tacky, gaudy, tasteless and empty. This is the perfect embodiment of the West in its current state.
The food arrives at our table. My children aren’t impressed. I’m not impressed with my undersized generic pizza either. Like the salad it is made for mass consumption and lacks any real flavour, any real love, any real human touch. My children experience and now understand empirically how utterly below standard this place is and tell me they are sorry. I tell them “Don’t worry, we now know never to return here.” I then go on to explain the problems of capitalism and a self-interested society and the dehumanisation of each worker and the effects it has on the products it produces. We leave, pun intended, with a bad taste in our mouths… on every level.
I don’t think we will be returning there ever again, but for wholly different reasons. Mine, as stated above. Theirs, because there’s only so much of Dad’s ranting they can take. As I get older, I have to come feel that a lot of the services and products we pay for in the West are a social experiment, a test to see how utterly gullible we are and just how far we can be tricked into accepting and buying pizza, sorry I meant… shit.