As you may or may not know, I am a certifiable pizza expert. I love the sauce. I love the crust. I love the cheese. But most of all I just love Pizza! I’ve rarely met a pizza I didn’t enjoy, but in light of a recent bad experience, I felt the need to throw down the gauntlet. Hey rest of the world besides USA and Italy, let’s have it out about your pizza!
I went on a vacation last week, staying at a friend’s cabin in a small town about 60 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba called Gimli. My friends and I decided to get pizza for lunch one day. This was our first mistake. You see for some reason, one can not get a decent pizza in some parts of the world if his or her life depended upon it. It doesn’t make any sense. Put some sauce on a crust, put some cheese on that sumbitch, throw some toppings on for good measure, and put it in an oven. Sounds simple enough, right?
Our tragic outing in Gimli had us ordering a large pepperoni pizza. We saw a pizza come out to another table and it looked pretty good! It was deep dish and had several toppings on it. I looked back up at the menu board behind the counter and didn’t see deep dish. “Deep dish? She must be an Italian!” I thought, but I still had faith. I had a bad experience with pizza in this same municipality years earlier at an establishment called Brennevin’s Pizza Hus (not a typo, Gimli has the most people of Icelandic descent of any place outside of Iceland and when you get that many Icelandish people in one place a pizza hus is bound to spring up). Yet I put all that aside, and I still hoped. You could almost say I was the Barack Obama of pizza.
The pizza arrived and it looked good enough. Wanting to believe we hadn’t made a mistake, we even told ourselves that the pizza wasn’t half bad as we started eating our first slice. We were only a few bites in when we realized the huge pepperoni slices were actually salami, and the cheese was overused and under-tasted. Long story moderately less long, it was one of the worst pizza’s I’ve ever ate in my life and it very nearly ruined my otherwise perfect vacation. I won’t lie to you, I’m still in shock. I barely had it in me to recount my story for this post.
Some of my other worst pizza experiences ever took place in London, England while I was studying abroad there. As the late great Bill Hicks said about English cooking “I don’t think you’re supposed to boil pizza.” It seems to make sense, but apparently they don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong, you can find good pizza in England, but you have to go to an Italian restaurant to do so.
So what’s the deal, rest of the world not including Italy? Why are you so bad at making pizza. You pretty much have to be trying to fuck it up to fuck it up. So why?
To be fair, just being a restaurant in the United States doesn’t get you off scot-free, I believe there is also a small town factor that doubled down our damages that fateful day in Gimli, Manitoba, a
town municipality of no more than 5,000 people, it wasn’t just the Canadian roots. I visited a pizza establishment in the unremarkable small town in Minnesota on the way to a friend’s cabin. Call me a city slicker if you will, but if we order a Philly Cheesesteak pizza, I don’t think nacho cheese is called for. In the bathroom of this establishment, there was a nice story about how the owner was working at Hardee’s and during a shift god told her to open a pizza place, so that’s what she did. Well, why couldn’t her god at least have the decency to teach her how to make an at-the-very-least-mediocre pizza?
Am I the crazy one, or is it the pizza god who has gone mad? Why can’t it be both? These are the questions that I will travel to the end of the Earth to find answers to, even if it means eating a lot of shitty pizza along the way.