To me, pizza is the perfect food.
It contains all your major food groups: dairy, vegetables, bread and meat. It needs no alterations, no improvements, no changes. It is perfect in its pristine, glorious incarnation—unless you are in Chicago. I don’t know what the hell that thing is.
But like any good meal, the key to stellar pizza is the recipe and the quality of the ingredients. And like everything in life, there must be balance—the cheese-to-sauce ratio has to be just right. The pizza should have an orange-y complexion with a mild oily sheen, not bright white on red. The number of toppings must be closely monitored; too much pepperoni and it will dominate the flavor profile and not blend in and become part of the glorious larger picture.
When I lived in Los Angeles, finding good pizza was a challenge of epic proportions. Most of it tasted like low-budget frozen pizza. Correction: most of it aspired to taste like low-budget frozen pizza. But once in a while, you would serendipitously stumble across a store that somehow hit the note. The proprietors were inevitably transplanted New Yorkers and when asked how they were able to pull off the Herculean task of replicating a slice worthy of Ray’s Famous, they would all tell you, “it’s the water.” New York City water (piped down from the Adirondacks) apparently contains the right combination of minerals and other stuff that gives New York pizza crust its lofty reputation. These L.A. pizzamakers would actually have New York water shipped into the West Coast! It cost a little more but, trust me, it was well worth it.
Let’s get back to the topic of toppings again—a subject as hotly debated as President Trump’s hair (apparently another sort of topping). Pizza aficionados (some call them snobs), will tell you there are only certain toppings allowed near a pizza; anything else added will change the name of what you are about to eat. Acceptable toppings include: pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, ground beef, mushrooms, black olives, onions, green peppers and anchovies. Yes, there may be some items on this list that you loathe (for me, it would be both mushrooms and anchovies), but that’s OK. You don’t have to have them; there are plenty of other acceptable options from which to choose.
This leads me to ham and pineapple. When I first heard that this was being put on pizza, I was stunned and appalled. Blasphemy! And then, one time, I was at a pizza party where many different kinds of toppings were made available, including the dubious ham and pineapple. I am nothing if not adventurous, so I tried a slice and I am big enough to admit it was pretty damn good. Would I order it on my own? No, but I am grudgingly willing to now allow it on the official list of approved toppings.
Listen, you can put anything you want on a pizza, but when you stray from the approved list, what it becomes is no longer pizza. Goat cheese instead of mozzarella? I don’t think so. I have a colleague at work who likes to put chicken, bacon and ranch dressing on his pie. I’m going to pause and let that sink in a minute.
Chicken, bacon and ranch dressing. That’s not pizza, it’s a sandwich. And it sounds delicious. But you can’t tell me it’s pizza. It has morphed into a whole other food thing.
But the pizza crisis facing America today—far more important than immigration policies or Russian collusion—is not really about the pie’s ingredients. Apparently, getting the pizza from your favorite parlor to your front step is a major impediment to your Friday Movie Night/Pizza Party. We know this because of DiGiorno frozen pizza commercials in which they explain that getting a pizza from point A to point B is a titanic task that is most likely to fail, so, to avoid the drama, they recommend that you just pop one of their frozen pies into the oven and circumvent the nerve-wracking, hand-wringing angst that apparently goes with pizza home-delivery. I am here to tell you: No, don’t do that.
But don’t worry—the major pizza chains are working hard to remedy the problem to make sure your pie arrives safe and unscathed. For example, Domino’s has created a pizza-tracking app. All you have to do is press the button on your phone and it will tell you exactly where your pizza is. I am not sure why such technology was needed (another solution to a non-existent problem), but I believe it is mostly to soothe anguished-soaked millennials who likely feel they are being personally disrespected if their pizza isn’t on time. Back in the day, if we ordered a pizza and it was late, we would call the store and say, “I ordered a large pepperoni pie 45 minutes ago; where the hell is it?!” And then they would tell us. That was our pizza tracker.
But apparently, getting the pizza from the store to your home has become such a nightmarish endeavor that Domino’s is offering pizza delivery insurance. Should something happen to the pie from the time it comes out of the oven to the time it goes in your face, Domino’s will bake you up a new one free of charge. (Their website states the pizza must be returned uneaten, so you’re not allowed to return the pie simply because you thought it was gross.)
Apparently, one of the reasons that getting your pizza home in one piece is so challenging is our streets are littered with potholes. Now, while it is true, the streets are indeed littered with potholes, I’m not sure how many pizzas that they’ve ruined. Nonetheless, Domino’s has created a new program in which they will come to your town and fill in any potholes on the route from their store to your house. I think it is safe to say that Domino’s really wants you to get your pizza.
Of course, there are myriad ways you can place your order these days. You can send a text or send an email. You can send a tweet or a fax… perhaps even a smoke signal. What we used to do (and you better sit down for this) is call the pizza parlor on the phone. I remember once—and this was a long time ago—I was with a bunch of friends watching a ball game and drinking some beer. We decided we needed a pizza. So, my friend, who had probably had one too many beers, made the call and slurred his order into the phone.
“I like-a order a very large pisha fer delivery, pleasesh...” he mumbled.
“What kind of pizza would you like?” the order-taker inquired.
My friend looked into the phone’s receiver, totally flummoxed by the question.
Let’s see Domino’s fix that problem.