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What is a pizza?

30 Apr, 2019 Frank Imler Fluid Culture

I was born in 1983. Which means I grew up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those four testudines brothers taught me two things. First, I too can be a ninja. And I was. Until I grew up and realized that I’m really not. And second, eat pizza.

Like the first childhood revelation, somehow I grew up and realized that “pizza” may not be what I thought it once was. Not too long ago, I was talking about pizza with my office mate and partner-in-creative-crime, Alex Naylor, and we began to discover that the modern-day definition of pizza is entirely too broad and a far cry from what pizza’s creator, Raffaele Esposito, intended. After hours of research, study and one heck of a white board session, we have come to a conclusion about what a pizza really is, and isn’t. These findings are dedicated to three of the four ninja turtles and to the rest of the pizza-eating world. One of you (you know who you are) really led me astray. Here are our findings.

A pizza must be open-faced.

No, a calzone is not a pizza. Nor is it a sandwich. That topic is for another time. It also must have a breaded bottom. Keep in mind that you can go overboard with the thickness or the thinness of the crust.

A pizza must have the right sauces.

The sauce of the pizza must be one of the three:

  1. Marinara
  2. Alfredo
  3. Pesto

Now, here you’re already asking yourself, “What about BBQ sauce? I love BBQ chicken pizza!” I’m sorry my friend. But that is not a pizza. Please allow me to continue. All your concerns will be resolved by the end.

A pizza must have the right cheese.

Mozzarella must be the predominant cheese upon the pizza. Other cheeses are welcome, provided they are one of the following:

  1. Parmesan
  2. Romano
  3. Gorgonzola

The meat must be cured.

The meat on a pizza must a cured/spiced meat. The only exception allowed is bacon. You have to admit it’s close enough and frankly belongs on almost anything.

The vegetables must be specific.

This is where the list gets a little loose. But it’s important to know there are guidelines to follow. Most importantly, no fruit is allowed on a pizza. I can hear you saying to yourself, “This guy is crazy. I love Hawaiian pizza!” Sorry pal. That is not a pizza. I too love the ham and pineapple combination. But just because I love it, it doesn’t mean it a pizza. Stick with me.

The appropriate veggie-like toppings allowed are are onion, garlic, tomato, olive, peppers, mushrooms and artichokes. Any leafy green must be an herb such as basil or oregano. Anything from the lettuce family is strictly forbidden. I’m talking to you Arugula. You can go on it. But that doesn’t make it a pizza.

Broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts have no business on a pizza. Even if you like it and you put it on, that does disqualify it from being a pizza and disqualifies you from going to heaven too. Look it up. It’s in the Bible. I’ll provide the scripture reference later in the comments.

Here is the reason why.

If you look back to where pizza came from, those Italian roots (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza) will guide you to what a pizza is and isn’t. For example, did the Italians in 997 AD have pineapple? No. Did they have ice cream to put on the 12 pizzas given to the bishop on Christmas and Easter? No. If we lose our way on this one simple thing, then who’s to say what a frog is or what stealing is? We need values. And we need to stick to them.

What do we call things that are not pizza?

We thought about that. Long and hard. But just because your favorite used-to-be-pizza is now no longer officially pizza doesn’t mean you can’t eat it or still love it. You just can’t call it pizza.

Here are some alternate names for those other dishes that we still love:

  • Unza
  • Notza
  • Hot circle
  • Open face melt
  • Pizz-ish
  • Flat thingy
  • Melty
  • Meltza
  • Cheesa
  • Pizza adjacent entrée
  • Cheese casserole (Chicago deep dish)

Now, take a breath.

I think you will need to take a minute to think about your life. I know we did. Once we discovered we were calling Flat Thingy’s a “pizza”, we called into question everything between Heaven and Hell. But it all became okay again once we sat down and had a slice of good old fashioned, certified authentic, genuine pizza.

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