Good news: I am no longer sick. You can all relax, or whatever. Lawyers from Papa John's, let me now be perfectly clear. I did not get swine flu from your very clean, well-lit Guangzhou eatery, though it is possible that I did catch a 24-hour bug of some kind there.
The Chinese name for Papa John's is “棒！约翰”, which means "Awesome! John", which is a great name, even if it sort of does lose steam at the end there. Basically all downhill after that exclamation point. Awesome! John is the only International Pizza Chain that I have been to in China, and it felt totally American. Yes! This, finally, this is what America is! I cried to my Chinese companions, as we sat on low, low, regally, ludicrously low leather lounge chairs and drank warm lemon-scented water out of small teacups at the start of our meal. I will say, far more teacups than I have ever experienced at a pizza joint. Just throwing that out there.
The food descriptions on the menu embraced the Awesome! spirit and therefore prepared me for the greatest meal of my life. The copy for every single pizza began with an exclamation: "A flavor explosion!", "Don't miss this taste!", etc., and went on to promise all sorts of things about how this pizza would make me feel (except sick, it did not promise that it would make me sick, but that is exactly how it made me feel). I also saw a drink called a "Snow Kiss," which was described as "Bubbly Sprite with a scoop of fruity, strawberry ice cream -- A taste you'll love...forever." This is not the most menacing food description I've ever read (winner: Wagon Wheel Pancake: "You only need ONE.", restaurant somewhere on the California River, ca. 1999, seriously it was a huge pancake), but still. I don't like to remember tastes (ellipsis) forever. And "Snow Kiss" sounds like the name of a Batman villain.
Or, worse, a Thomas Kinkade painting. Or, better, a puppy with snow on its muzzle and paws. And now you've got me thinking about puppies.
Ok, I'm back. Look, again, the biggest promise that Awesome! John made was that it would not make me sick (such promises were not made explicit), but it broke that promise, so next time I'm going to Pizza Hut. Which is more popular in China than General Tso's Chicken. Because General Tso's Chicken does not exist here. They just call it "chicken"!
No, but seriously, a) there is no such thing as General Tso's anything in China b) they really like Pizza Hut.