Friday, August 9, 2013

Dear Dr. Oetker

Dear Dr Oetker,

I hope this letter finds you well although I understand this is unlikely as I believe you passed away in 1918. Either way I will continue with my correspondence in the hope that one of your descendants or current Dr Oetker executives might read this uttering of words and should act upon it to prevent further damage to your business of producing baking powder, cake mixes, yogurts, puddings, cake decorations and frozen pizzas so hardy that they would surely survive the inevitable and impending nuclear winter.

It is that most dependable of food stuffs just mentioned that concerns me tonight, the pizza.  I have heard it said on many an occasion that pizza is like sex, even when it's bad it's still pretty good.  As a scientist I am sure you are always filled with pride when you provide empirical evidence that a widely accepted rule of life is incorrect.  In this instance you have shattered the myth that poor quality oven baked, round bread topped with cheese, tomato sauce and a variety of toppings could ever match poor quality copulation.  Well done sir.

Let me give you a little background to the events of this evening.  On the evening of July the 29th 2013 I was contacted by your associates from Brazen PR requesting my attendance at the launch of a new 'pizzeria' serving 'great food and drinks'.  It was also confirmed that I would 'experience the taste of Italy'.  These did not seem like bold claims to me and as a life long advocate of pizza I happily supplied my RSVP for the event.  Reviewing the terminology used now I must say I do feel that I was misled.  After consulting many dictionary definitions of the word 'pizzeria' it seems the accepted use of the word describes 'a restaurant where pizzas are made and sold'.  Certainly it appears that you will be using 104 High St, Manchester to sell 'pizzas' but have they been made there?  I'm afraid they haven't.  They've been machine crafted in Leeds, Leyland and the mildly amusingly named Sherburn-In-Elmet.

I must say that I was intrigued by your initial correspondence and readily accepted your invite.  As some might say fools rush in where angels fear to tread.  That said I did request more information of which I was furnished with on 2nd August 2013 by your trusted colleagues Brazen PR.  Let us just examine a few of the statements made in this email:
  • "Set in stylish, traditional surroundings, the pizzeria is tipped to be the summer hit in the Northern Quarter" - I would rather say that it is in fact set in a hastily converted room above a restaurant and I would be forever indebted to you if you could supply the name of the optimistic tipster who predicts the fortunes of Northern Quarter restaurants.  This guy has mad skills.
  • "La Pizzeria Ristorante will be a fresh approach to dining in Manchester" - My only assumption is that the word 'fresh' has been wholeheartedly used in an ironic fashion.  Perhaps I could believe you were intending to use the word in the mid 80s New York hip hop sense but this would seem incongruous with the remainder of your press release.
  • "This is a pizzeria with a slight twist" - You keep using that word (pizzeria), I do not think it means what you think it means. The phrase 'slight twist' might also have been better replaced with the phrase 'awful surprise' or 'torrid revelation'.
At this point my suspicions had been aroused.  There certainly seemed something a little bit shifty about the whole operation but two elements bolstered my confidence.  The first was the location, the Northern Quarter remains fiercely independent and so we could at least expect some sort of attempt at individuality as well as an effort to set the establishment against the mainstream and the chains found elsewhere in the city centre. The second was the minor endorsement from Manchester Confidential which featured a rehash of the press release you so helpfully supplied as well as this stock image.  Oh how I wish that stock image was somehow representative of the 'pizza' I consumed on that fateful day.  I also wish Manchester Confidential had supplied a tip as to the real purpose of your 'pizzeria', perhaps your subterfuge was too powerful for even their journalistic prowess.

Those aroused suspicions were confirmed when the 'pizza' arrived.  I don't want to spend too much time pondering the interesting flavours and textures I experienced when eating your 'pizza' so let me just sum it up that it was a slightly below average frozen pizza.  This is coming from a man who is no snob when it comes to frozen pizza, I do enjoy the odd Goodfellas but sadly your product fell short of this.  I can only elaborate on my review with the recounting of the actions and words of one of my fellow bloggers who could be heard to say "when you look at it very closely you can see how processed and dry it is", the force of his very breath was enough to create a fine 'dough' dust to be emitted by the crust which was gone as quickly as it had arrived.  Unlike your pizzas which were left half eaten here, there and everywhere.

Again I'd like to say I have nothing against frozen pizza and your menu which, at first glance, seems to be very affordable which is admirable in these times of austerity when people have less money to enjoy eating out.  That said I would say to those people take your £10 note, walk across the road to Arndale Food Market and visit Panchos Burritos or one of the other traders operating there who provide great tasting food cooked with fresh ingredients presumably with at least a hint of love for what they are doing.

You might be thinking that this is a letter of complaint, far from it.  I wanted  to personally thank you Dr Oetker for inviting me to one of the most memorable and enjoyable PR events I will ever have the good fortune to attend.  I don't feel stung or cheated as has been suggested elsewhere, I feel privileged to have been present.  I thank you.

Yours Sincerely

Good Gobble

PS I also couldn't find anywhere that you had made any reparations for your participation in forced labour during World War II that helped build your company in to the giant corporation it is today which is valued at over 8 billion euros.  Might want to sort that out if you haven't already.  Or at least get a good PR company on the case.

La Pizzeria Ristorante on Urbanspoon


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