I grew up on Long Island.
And like many New Yorkers, my appreciation for pizza is nothing short of devout cultural chauvinism.
The fact that people in Chicago think that their heavy, sodden, blasphemous variation on pizza is in any way noteworthy other than for garnering contempt is worthy of no more commentary than this sparse paragraph.
New Yorkers love pizza, yet resent the second class, fast-food status of the dish.
The magic in a perfect slice is created by the dough.
Chicago pizza creates dough that has the presence of a bad mattress: its firm, alien presence has no dialogue with what is laying on it.
New York pizza, on the other hand, is about the thin slice.
Thin slices create osmosis between the cheese, the sauce, and the dough. The three elements become one.
I’ve been in NYC now for almost a week, and I always go out of my way to find the city’s best pizza.
The other day I had a treat in a nameless place somewhere around 39th and 8th Ave.
The pizza had just come out of the brick oven. I could see by the thin, golden crust that I was in for a special piece of pizza.
I was able to easily fold the slices and bite into the oneness of its creation.
When you really look at a piece of pizza, you will see the cheese and sauce create an overlapping pink middle ground. The dish is at one with itself.
And then there is California pizza.
Somehow, Californians lost in translation the fact that you do NOT add ingredients to pizza to make it better.
There is a term in fashion known as “peacocking”. The word refers to dress that is so loud and extreme that its first objective is grabbing attention.
California pizza is not unlike fashion peacocking: the overuse of any ingredient in the kitchen is meant to dress up a dish that is best appreciated naked.
Have you ever had a bad burrito: the kind where the beans are in on place, then you get a mouthful of sour cream, or rice?
These burritos are bad because their ingredients have great proximity to one another on the menu, but not on the plate.
And the zenith of pizza is the oneness of dough, sauce, and cheese.