Ugly Delicious: Pizza
March 2, 2018 6:35 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

You can throw ramen on top of pizza dough—but is it pizza? Chef David Chang travels to restaurants around the world in search of the best pizza in season 1 episode 1 of Netflix's "Ugly Delicious."
posted by gemutlichkeit (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was on the fence about checking this out but that New Yorker review has convinced me! Thanks!
posted by Clustercuss at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2018

From my Tumblr, caps removed: Why are David Chang and Aziz Ansari acting like mayo and corn on pizza are weird? That's like the most common "weird" Japanese pizza that gets trotted out as a random factoid. Why pretend to have your mind blown by something boring? You just end up looking like a jackass.

Also I can’t decide if Aziz is David’s weirdest hanger-on or vice versa.

(That said, I like the show.)
posted by elsietheeel at 8:18 PM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just watched this last night. Did enjoy it overall, but something about how Chang was in the early Japanese scene made me feel uncomfortable for reasons I couldn't exactly explain; perhaps just his inability to dial back the bro-y ball-breaking when talking to the way more restrained Japanese dude? Just odd. And Aziz being there didn't do much for the weirdness.

Other than that a lot to like here and a lot of straight up pizza lust. Chang seems like an interesting dude but I get the impression he's not always the easiest to be around. Very curious how the rest of the show will go.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:14 AM on March 3, 2018

This sounds interesting but I don't think I can watch anything with Aziz Ansari in it.
posted by chaiminda at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Criticism of the show that I've been seeing around the net (and here) are truly bizarre to me until I realize it comes more from folks trying to intellectualize their internal debate over "do I like David Chang as a PERSON or not???" and not the actual content of the show and how it compares to other food shows, which in my opinion is fucking fantastic. Whether or not you think Chang is rude or whatever (also, like, what? Did he personally do something/say something really upsetting that I missed?) there is not much out there in the mainstream really giving the middle finger to the concept of "authenticity" and connecting it to things like racism and class.

And yes corn and mayo on pizza *is* weird in the context of festishized "authentic" pizza which is what the episode was about. The very next scene after they eat the Japanese tuna mayo pizza the guy from Lucali is like, let's get this out of the way, pizza is sauce and cheese and dough otherwise it's not pizza. Why? It's crazy the mental gymnastics people do to create boundaries around stacking food on bread. I commend Chang's "fuck that shit" attitude and frankly the more people find it abrasive or find him "out of line" the more I like the guy.
posted by windbox at 8:54 AM on March 3, 2018

Hi Dave! Kidding aside, I mean sure, a show that features this much of its host is going to have a lot of people thinking about whether they find the host likeable or not. I do think it's unfair to say "well, all the criticisms of the show are just people's feelings about Chang, but they're pretending otherwise". This is just... obviously untrue?

As far as my own feelings go, I didn't think the guy did any single really terrible thing, there was just a sort of overbearing deafness to context in his constant bro-yness that stuck out a bit at points, especially in the first setup in Japan, like, if you're just blaring on ten with no sympathy to your surroundings at all, personally I'd find that a bit wearing. There's possibly some personal experience from working in Japan and being around drunk western folk in places like this, feeling their oats at tops volume, idk. YMMV and you are of course entitled to find someone who lives at that volume and pace flipping off the world 24/7 a delightful tonic to, I don't know, a world of snooty maitre d's all dropping their monocles in shock that Chang being so bloody brave that he swears a lot about pizza, or something.

I gotta watch more of the show before I have anything smarter to talk about than my own initial visceral reaction. I don't at all disagree on food prescriptivism, I think it's small-minded and meanspirited. Looking forward to the next episode, anyhow.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:51 AM on March 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love David Chang, actually, it's David Choe that I find abrasive and out of line, but I also didn't find Chang rude at all. He lived in Japan, so I figure he knows what's rude and what isn't.

But I still think pretending that corn and mayo on pizza is weird is the part that's actually weird because it was unnecessary. The Western world knows that Japanese people put corn and mayo on pizza. The rest of the scene was far more interesting and could have been expanded.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:03 PM on March 3, 2018

there was just a sort of overbearing deafness to context in his constant bro-yness that stuck out a bit at points

Chang lived and worked in Japan for about a year. If he's rude, it's not out of cluelessness.
posted by praemunire at 10:30 PM on March 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I didn’t know that they put corn and mayo on pizza in Japan. Looked amazing with that tuna though.

I did think it was kind of long and could have done without the zany filler bits, and I’m not sure what the guy who isn’t David Chang is there for, but pretty good overall.
posted by rodlymight at 5:32 PM on March 7, 2018

Chang is starting new conversations about food, culture, race, and representation. As a Korean-American chef, Chang's POV is one I appreciate. Underneath the mild bro-ness, he's a smart guy who has thought a lot about all of the issues mentioned above and how they connect with each other, and I think it's important to him because food is his POV to American culture as well as the world.
As for Ansari, let me assure you that he is not a regular in the series, and he's not even in every episode, but I can see why you might take a pass.
I agree with the above comment that it was not Chang who was obnoxious, but rather Choe. I couldn't agree more! Luckily he's not in every episode, either.
This is listed as documentary instead of a general food show, and I think that label is apt. Chang interviews a wide variety of people, not just chefs, about food and food history. I think he did a good job with breaking down soul food & American racism in the Fried Chicken episode.
TD;LR - all killer, no filler!
posted by honey badger at 4:32 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

This sounds interesting but I don't think I can watch anything with Aziz Ansari in it.

I think this is a mistake for two reasons. First, it shows an inability to forgive. It assumes Ansari is the same person and that he will never be redeemable. Second, it's a mistake because if we do this, the vast majority of creative works will need to be discounted. All the best geniuses are assholes. All of them. Every single one, even your hero. We can punish them, or we can watch what they do next. I'd recommend not seeking to destroy those who err, but to welcome them back, and see what happens. Mistakes have helped me to grow. I'm going to assume that's true for others, even if they're famous.

That aside, I make very good pizza, but I myself don't really like pizza. That's related to my first job making pizzas where the only fringe benefit was you could eat all you wanted if you made it yourself. For two years all I ate was pizza. I've worked at three pizza places and saw very different approaches to what is basically a roasted open face sandwich. It's a shortcut for lazy people who don't want to both bake fresh bread and then warm up the stuff they put in it. I really enjoyed this. The final point about pizza being a medium, a platform, a line to riff off is incredibly true. And that it's about sharing your home, and should come from local ingredients, seemed sensible to me. You don't have to like it to use it to make people happy. And that Chang liked Dominos didn't seem contrived to me, or bro-ish, or impishly contrarian. It seemed genuine. Food has a memory component. I think Dominos hit that spot for Chang. And so fucking convenient. I think I like this show. I'm definitely watching more episodes.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:38 PM on March 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Having watched just a couple more, I'm enjoying it a lot more. Co-Paws pointed out the third episode might have made a better first episode; I'm sure they had good reasons for the order but I feel he comes across a lot easier and less dogmatic, idk. Anyhow I'm enjoying this show so much.

Interesting on Ansari - I'm not determined to toss him on the memory hole forever necessarily, but for me personally to keep watching him there's gonna need to be some sort of engaging with everything that he did, not just hanging a bit in the background of a few shots of a random show, for it not to feel very weird watching him.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:05 PM on March 18, 2018

For those who are not watching because of Ansari, he's not in all of them, maybe two and not for that long. I was also a little put off by it, but please don't let his minor involvement get in the way of enjoying this program.

I just finished the series and I found as the series went on, David took on more and more of the cultural implications of food - subjects of "authenticity", cultural history, high-low dining, ingredient sourcing, etc. It wasn't too intellectual or deep, but I really appreciated him even bringing these topics to the table. I don't think the general public engages with these subjects enough and he presented them in a very accessible and entertaining manner.

The ones that stand out in my mind for taking this angle are particularly Tacos, Fried Chicken, and Stuffed Pasta vs Pot Stickers. Fried Chicken really opened my eyes and I thought it was done really well and sensitively for such a loaded subject.
posted by like_neon at 5:38 AM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh and also the Fried Rice episode!
posted by like_neon at 5:39 AM on May 14, 2018

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