An Italian restaurant in New Taipei City, Taiwan, has now apologized and changed the name of one dish that they had originally elected to call "Long Live the Nazis," and no one seems to be mentioning that the new name is barely, if at all, better.
Rockmill restaurant had apparently intended the original name to help customers know the dish was German-inspired, because, sure, there aren't literally hundreds of other ways to do that without effectively saying "hey, wasn't the Third Reich awesome?" or anything (personally I like "Die Uberspaghetti," but I'm open to more suggestions — go nuts, you guys). When they caught wind of it, both Israeli and German representatives in Taiwan had the same "WHOA, REALLY NOT OK" reactions, and complaint calls flooded into the restaurant until Rockmill decided to change it:
"When we were deciding on a name for this pasta dish, it never occurred to us that the word Nazi would stir up such controversy," said Chao Ya-hsin, the 24-year-old manager...who offered a sorrowful apology over the restaurant's lack of sensitivity.
Now, you might think this is the most blatant bit of anti-semitism you've ever seen, and that Chao's apology must be bullshit. Weeeeeelllllllll...that's where it gets tricky. See, the entire region of South and Southeast Asia has had a bit of an unfortunate, cluelessly enthusiastic relationship with Nazi iconography in the last decade. In 2013, a fried chicken takeaway opened in Thailand named "Hitler." A likewise-named clothing store opened in India in 2012. Taiwan has been through this before, too — in 2011, 7-11's sold gimmicky key chains that featured cartoon versions of vampire Hitler (bring this up any time someone tries to tell you that Japan has a monopoly on weird).
From what I can tell, there's no real malice behind any of this, the same way there isn't any true malice behind Japan's awkward and bizarre relationship with African-American culture. I believe them when they say they didn't think it would offend anyone, because no one who didn't believe a statement that absurd would try to make it with a straight face. They just do not understand the concept that this is totally in no way OK. I can't say I'm angry at them for this, either. My reaction can more or less be summed up thusly:
All of this helps explain why the restaurant received no complaints about the name of the dish until a local TV station aired a story about it. Only then did people raise an issue, which is probably the most groan-inducing part of this whole story.
...or at least it would be, were it not for the new name of the same dish, which is barely better than the first one: they're now calling it "Long Live Purity." Come on, seriously? HOW ARE YOU SO BAD AT THIS, ROCKMILL?! You are worse at naming dishes than Congress is at accomplishing things.
Look, Rockmill employees, go read my comments section here. I guarantee you my regulars are going to come up with at least 15-20 naming options that would ALL be better than what you keep coming up with. Just use one of theirs. I'm sure they're happy to share. Maybe then you wouldn't keep trying to pick names that either directly (the first one) or indirectly (come on, we all know what "purity" means) endorse Nazism.
Just for fuck's sake, read a fucking book on World War II some time. You know, the one that ultimately helped lead to your existence as an entity separate from China after Chiang Kai-Shek, whose ineffective army was riven with factionalism and corruption and couldn't stand in the wake of Mao's Communist offensive from the North, fled the mainland?
See? SOME OF US KNOW BASIC SHIT ABOUT THE HISTORY OF COUNTRIES WE'RE NOT FROM. THIS ISN'T HARD.
Edit: Kinja user frau meixia points out that another source reports that they changed the name to "World Champion Pasta." If this is true, that's a hell of a lot better than "Long Live Purity." In the meantime, I'm not sure which source to believe.
Image via chrisdorney/Shutterstock.