Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's Not Really a Pie

I suppose it's a pie because it's round, has "fillings" and a crust, but I don't really think of a pizza as a pie. The earth is round, has a crust, and is covered in toppings, but it's not a pizza.

But pizza is a wonderful thing regardless of its pie status. It's one of those foods which, as a basic template, is simple in execution but allows for a myriad of design changes. There's a huge range of crust flavors and textures, sauces of differing complexity levels, and many different cheese options, not to mention a world of possible toppings. That's why no one pizza made by a particular chain or restaurant or person ever tastes quite the same as any other pizza recipe.

The angel is in the details, I guess. And I love almost every riff on the concept. Oddly enough, the best pizza I ever ate I found in a small cafe in France. I think it may have been recommended to me by someone I met in my hotel outside of Paris, but I can't quite remember. I may also have stumbled on it by accident. In either case, the pizza was impeccable. Perfect sauce, perfect crust, fresh toppings, including red onion and artichoke, and the coup de grĂ¢c; an egg broken onto the pizza as it came out of the oven. Sounds strange, I know. But it was so good. The white of the egg cooked from the heat of the pizza. The yolk cooked some, but stayed mostly liquid, like a good sunny side up egg should. It was an unexpected addition that really elevated the pizza beyond anything I'd ever had.

And it's funny. I've considered breaking an egg over a pizza since then, and I can't seem to bring myself to do it. I feel like that was a once in a lifetime experience. One that could only work in that cafe in France at that point in my life. Any attempt to recreate that moment would feel, at best a pretender to the throne, and at worst a very bad pizza. I mean, imagine breaking an egg over a pizza from Papa Johns. Yeech! Doesn't sound appealing in the least bit.

And it would ruin my memory of that perfect pizza. I'd rather have the memory.

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