My parents went on holiday recently and asked me to house-sit. While I was there I looked up some of the local pizza places. At home, I normally get two large pizzas and a garlic bread delivered for $24, which is dinner and breakfast for two people. I couldn't find a single place in Bendigo that would do anything comparable, so I gave up on “good” and swung in the complete opposite direction. Pizza Hut.
When I was a child, my grandmother would occasionally take my family to all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta, salad and dessert. All I really remembered about it was that I used to eat so much I made myself sick, so I didn't really know what to expect.
The pizza was bad. I don't know where you get olives that taste of nothing, but they found some. The whole thing was greasy and vaguely salty, and that was about it. It wasn't even a good “guilty pleasure” pizza – the kind with ham and cheese piled on so thick you know that the middle can't be cooked properly – it was just bland.
Pizza Hut asks you to fill out a survey when you've ordered through their website, so I did that, and I let them know that I wasn't happy with their food or their prices – and to their credit, they offered me a free meal at their Bendigo restaurant. Partly for nostalgia value, partly because I could never pass up a free meal, I took them up on it.
It all felt strangely familiar, though I remembered it being bigger and more impressive – an endless array of foods. The reality is about five types of pizza, a small tub of greasy spiral pasta with your choice of three sauces, and a couple of over-dressed salads.
And nothing had any flavour. It doesn't matter which pizza you choose, none of them taste of anything. It doesn't matter what sauce you put on your pasta, they're all the same. How you make bolognese indistinguishable from carbonara I'll never know, but they did it.
As for atmosphere, it's sort of a blend of corporate sterility (like McDonald's) and deep, deep depression. You can't imagine anyone there is happy. At least at McDonald's you interact with a human being who cheerfully asks what you want to eat. At Pizza Hut, you just shuffle over to the bain-marie and back to your table, shovel those greasy carbs into your mouth to try to fill the void in your soul, then get in your car and drive home to your cold, empty house.
The chocolate mousse was OK though.
Originally written in August 2016 for a class called "Creative and Professional Writing".