A Chicagoan’s Pizza Rant

March 8, 2007

In response to the recent brouhaha over Dash’s pizza posting, I posit the following:

1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Mr. Hammerskjold’s establishing American pizza along a Chicago – New York scale, or for the pretentious, binary grouping. The two styles represent the culinary extremes of American pizza (authentic Italian pizza being an entirely different species), but also the archetypes to which all the pizza in between must attempt to conform.

2. New Haven pizza [[DH: Notwithabang has misread me; New Haven pizza, at least in my opinion, is close to the top of the Pizza scale, if not the top. This emendation demanded its insertion directly into the text. Boston is pizza hell.]] (and much of Northeastern pizza) is pretty subpar, but it is not pizza hell. It is instead a wasteland, desolate of any benchmark of flavor. By extension, its residents do not constitute a pizza subaltern, they are simply the unwashed masses of the pizza-illiterate.

3. There does exist a pizza hell, however, and that place is California. Not unlike a Hieronymous Boesch painting, in California, pizza that has only been middling in life (and otherwise unwilling to sin boldly, like NY/Chi pizza) is tortured and deformed, crushed under heaps of salad and guacamole, or worse, piles of cheesesteak or Tex-Mex frippery. If there does exist such a thing as a pizza subaltern (itself an awkwardly reappropriated term, used to steal the voice of the disadvantaged for use by vacuous post-colonialists), then what is really needed is for a crusading chef, a pizza-making Charles Napier, if you will, to make an example of a few California Pizza Kitchens here and there and bring sanity to the region.

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