Jon Eick over at So Good had a post a week ago that said….well, this:
Pepperoni pizza is not that good. I mean, yeah, it’s good, but it’s not THAT good. Seriously, it’s not. If you think it is, it’s time to get over it, and get over yourself. Wake your boring ass taste buds up, there are many delicious pizza options out there, and the pizza world doesn’t revolve around pepperoni.
If pizza is high quality, a mere slice of cheese is delicious. If pizza is mediocre, I understand the need to add toppings. But I have news for you pepperoni: you ain’t all that and a bag of chips. Pepperoni, while ok, is simply NOT good enough to have earned it’s place as the default pizza order of choice on merit alone.
There’s so much here to talk about. Firstly, from a pure historical POV, Jon raises an interesting question. How did pepperoni become the default choice of topping? My guess is that we Americans migrate towards the spicy and flavorful over the bland and subtle, and pepperoni simply powered its way over other mediocre offerings such as hamburger meat disguised as sausage, second rate cheese, and canned, CANNED, mushrooms. With offerings such as these, pepperoni wins by default.
Second, Let’s stop playing up the Italian influence on Pizza, because for the most part, we Americans have rarely tasted a truly Italian flatbread. I’m talking pizza from coal or wood burning oven with minimal amount of toppings, toppings which, by the way, could stand on their own. Great pizza makes me weep with joy. American pizza mostly makes me sigh with disappointment.
Part of the sadness with American pizza comes from the fact that we treat our pizza dough so horribly. Much like hamburger buns (which we also ignore taste-wise), the crust of the pizza should works in concert with the toppings, and not merely be an edible plate on which toppings are served. A great crust is a work of art. A mediocre crust is just sad. A mediocre crust requires toppings on top of it that make up for the crusts lack of flavor. Hence, spicy pepperoni.
We here in Seattle have a very odd problem. There’s a lack of really great pizza joints that deliver. On the East Coast, I had dozens of options in each major city in each of the cities where I had lived. Here, it’s less so.
Now most people here will point to Pagliacci’s as perfectly acceptable. But in truth, their crust suffers the same fate as most American crusts. It’s tough, and after a few minutes outside of the oven, it becomes difficult to chew. So how do they compensate for this failure?
Their toppings – which includes a pepperoni made by Salumi. Yes, that Salumi. This ends up being sort of the inverse of putting a lipstick on the pig, where in this case the pig improves the mediocre product.
So, I’m with Jon in this. Listen America! Stop settling for the merely average. Quit accepting canned mushrooms, and horrible, horrible, pizza cheese as an option. And for the love of all that is holy, please understand that a mediocre pepperoni can never save a terrible pie.