H/L -- Less Guilt, More Pleasure
by Ben Reeves
Picture the scene: You are hard at work, racing to get a monthly magazine to the printer on time during the short month of February. Those three or four fewer days may make pay-day a little closer, but they have the same impact on your deadlines. It suddenly occurs to you
that, for the third consecutive day, there is no way you are going to be leaving the office before most people are fast asleep, including most restaurant owners. Your choices are severely limited---either you suffer some lacklustre late-night fast food again or you get something delivered to the office.
Admittedly, Nick the Pizza is far from the only restaurant which will deliver to obscure locations. Most of the major chains will provide this service, so long as you are not trying to deliver into the darkest depths of East Pattaya because logic and map-reading do not appear to be included in the list of qualifications and requirements for delivery drivers. However, Nick's wares are unique in other ways.
A chain franchise restaurant is all about making money as quickly and easily as possible. Granted, such is the case with most businesses, but chain eateries are rather more determined than most to cut costs. Anything they can do to make the operation as fast and cost-effective as possible will be done, regardless of the impact it has on the product.
Smaller, local businesses don't have global recognition and advertising budget measured in eight figures and must, instead, trade on their reputation and the quality of their product.
With a Nick the Pizza product, it is clear that the base is not a mass-produced, pre-made, cook-from-frozen affair. The thin crust has all of the irregularity and imperfections of something hand-made to the purpose. With imperfection comes freshness and with freshness comes flavour. Therefore, an imperfect base is better than a perfect one [Ed. note: Delivery drivers aren't the only ones who can be illogical!].
Freshness is a theme which continues into the topping. Take the most basic of all pizzas---the Margarita (also known as 'cheese and tomato'). Chopping up a fresh tomato is a fiddly operation, which takes time. Time is money to a franchisee. You also can't freeze a tomato, so the chains often avoid them because, if it is not used within a week or two, it will spoil and have to be binned. Wastage is loss of profit. However, tomato sauce just is not the same. Even in the phenomenally unlikely event that it tasted even vaguely similar to the genuine article, the texture of the fruit is lost and the texture is half of the enjoyment.
Then there is the cheese. This is available in freezable varieties, but whatever is added or removed to it in order to allow it to keep in cold storage also removes much of the flavour. Fresh, unfrozen cheese has a noticeably stronger, more mature flavour than cheap, mass-produced, frozen, edible yellow rubber.
It would be a barefaced lie to say that there is anything even vaguely wholesome about a pizza, be it from Nick the Pizza or any other establishment. No matter how much you tart it up or give it fancy names, pizzas are not gourmet cuisine. Nick has the good grace to admit this,
which is why it is possible to get your pizza delivered with a couple of bottles of beer and a kebab. It's stodge, pure and simple. It is the guilty pleasure that is just impossible to resist when either drunk or racing towards a deadline. If you are going to have a guilty pleasure,
though, it might as well be pleasing.
What is truly remarkable about Nick the Pizza is that, despite the generally higher quality of the ingredients used, the price is not higher than those companies who do everything they can to cut the costs. In fact, the only way you could get your pizza cheaper is if you really did nick it! In that regard, your guilty pleasure can be pleasurable without being especially guilty.