There are often times when you’re casually enjoying a meal at a restaurant until you realize you're sitting with the “You haven't had real pizza until you've been to so-and-so” guy. It's on odd thing to hear, considering that most of your senses—sight, touch, taste, smell—are indicating there is actual pizza on the table. You could probably even hear that it's pizza, if you jiggled a slice next to your ear like a weirdo.
But not according to the jackass who seemed to just show up despite not being invited, declaring that you haven’t physically ingested pizza or whatever food you're eating unless you've been to the one specific address in some city across the country (or world). It’s the food version of “The book is better than the movie.”
Instead of spearing him with your salad fork, below are some suggestions for coping with the snob trying to undermine your meal.
Say that Wanting the Same Food Everywhere Is Boring
Netflix and Amazon Prime don't even have the same movies, and yet people expect our enormous, diverse country to be culinarily synced throughout. Recently arrived New Yorkers in California want a slice of Joe's at 1 AM, and Californians in New York can't understand why it’s difficult to find authentic tacos. Southerners gripe about the barbecue on both coasts, and Canadians about the poutine.
Alright, people: Everyone needs to leave their complaints at home. The country is not a giant food court with really fast-moving walkways to whisk you to a regionally idealized version of every type of food. Yes, it's hard to get a good slice of pizza in Lexington, West Virginia, but maybe if you could, it wouldn't be Lexington anymore. You stay you, Lexington.
It may sound cruel, but I enjoy telling complainers that the reason they moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, or vice versa, is because their home failed them, and they failed their home. That statement might elicit tears, but come on, I'm trying to eat here.
Pretend to Take it Seriously and Spit Out Your Food
As soon as you're told the food isn't real, react as if you've never heard it before. Spit out the pizza in horror and slap it out of your friends' hands to save them from eating it. “This isn't real pizza!” you could yell. “Everybody run!” Flip over the table and do the same with everybody else's table. “That guy says this pizza is full of lies! Save yourselves!”
Grab the snob in question and drag him outside into a cab. “Take us to Brooklyn and don't stop for anything! That's apparently the only place in the world that has real pizza according to this guy I just met, and I will not live one more moment of life before putting my face in it.”
Depending on how committed you are, you could travel all the way to the specific restaurant in question that has the so-called real version of said food, even if it’s cross-country. No matter how far into this scenario you get, he’ll never utter that comment to anyone again.
Point Out Shitty Foods Where He's From
Every city features sub-par versions of certain dishes, and knowing them is a perfect weapon against transplant snobbery. Where you from? Texas? Attack the sushi. Seattle? Barely a decent Jewish deli in sight. Candyland? Burgers. (Candyland makes terrible burgers.)
Obviously, there are numerous reasons why a city might not do certain foods well, including proximity to ingredients, population demographics, and local culture. And there are always exceptions, which brings us to the next point.
Explain that Good Chefs Can Move
There's usually at least one local chef in most cities who's figured out a non-local cuisine. It may be a surprise to hear, but many good chefs are endowed with free will and the ability to transport themselves from one location to another. When they arrive, they don't typically leave behind all their skills and talents. Those can be stored in the overhead bin on planes, and later used to open another restaurant that's often just as good as the one in the city they left behind.
It's why you can get perfectly respectable cheesesteaks in Boston and New Jersey, and will occasionally find decent pizza as far as the Pacific Northwest. Why? Because the pizza is made by people who lived in or learned from New York. Every time a chef moves, he or she undermines regional culinary claims. While it benefits us all, it totally hurts our ability to take cheap shots in a food argument. I hate that.
“Waiter, There's an Asshole at My Table”
If none of these tactics work, simply mention to the waiter that there's an asshole at your table, like you would with a hair in your food. The wait staff will remove the person and bring you a fresh replacement.
“This food is great,” he might say, digging in. “I'm Tim, by the way.”
“Good to meet you, Tim. Glad you like it.”