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  • The History of Pizza in America

    Post #1 - April 14th, 2006, 8:19 am
    Post #1 - April 14th, 2006, 8:19 am Post #1 - April 14th, 2006, 8:19 am
    American Pie @ AmericanHeritage.com

    The above webpage also includes a list of the 10 best pizzas in America according to John Mariani.

    E.M.
  • Post #2 - April 14th, 2006, 8:27 am
    Post #2 - April 14th, 2006, 8:27 am Post #2 - April 14th, 2006, 8:27 am
    Great article. (Says all you need to know about why not to eat at Su Casa, the Mexican restaurant Ike Sewell did eventually open. Does it still exist? I hope not.)

    Lousy ten-best list. I could accept five from New York if the list didn't also go to Beverly Hills and Chez Panisse. What, there's no pizza at French Laundry? It's just so obvious a food-writer's list, I could have made that exact list, and I haven't even been to any of those places except John's.
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  • Post #3 - April 14th, 2006, 8:42 am
    Post #3 - April 14th, 2006, 8:42 am Post #3 - April 14th, 2006, 8:42 am
    Thanks for the link, Erik. Interesting to read, though I see much in it that is wrong or badly garbled, especially -- though not exclusively -- regarding the European background. But certainly there are some very interesting references and quotes.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #4 - April 14th, 2006, 12:48 pm
    Post #4 - April 14th, 2006, 12:48 pm Post #4 - April 14th, 2006, 12:48 pm
    Antonius wrote:Thanks for the link, Erik. Interesting to read, though I see much in it that is wrong or badly garbled, especially -- though not exclusively -- regarding the European background. But certainly there are some very interesting references and quotes.

    Antonius


    A,

    My time and my inclinations rarely permit any exegesis of the texts and essays which I make available on LTH.

    And, I get by on the faith that I have in the critical faculties of my fellow man.

    ;)

    E.M.
  • Post #5 - April 14th, 2006, 3:02 pm
    Post #5 - April 14th, 2006, 3:02 pm Post #5 - April 14th, 2006, 3:02 pm
    Erik,

    Both my thanks to you and praise for some aspects of the piece you brought to our attention were sincere. Mike G also seemed to have a somewhat critical comment about an aspect of the piece but otherwise enjoyed it, much as I did. I'm sure others have enjoyed reading the piece as well.

    And I think I would probably find it a little disconcerting if I found myself in total agreement with someone else with regard to a topic I've spent time investigating. And in any event, it's always good to know the views of others.

    Anyway, please keep linking!

    Bona Pascua,
    :)
    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #6 - April 15th, 2006, 6:45 am
    Post #6 - April 15th, 2006, 6:45 am Post #6 - April 15th, 2006, 6:45 am
    Mike G wrote:Lousy ten-best list. I could accept five from New York if the list didn't also go to Beverly Hills and Chez Panisse


    Mike,

    I can't believe I'm about to defend designer pizza such as this but.....

    The reality is, though, that I tried Alice Waters' pizza several years ago at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and have to say it was spectacular. I don't remember all the ingredients she used on this pizza but I clearly recall enjoying the bread very much as well as the caramelized red onions (with a trace of vinegar), goat cheese, and a tad of crème fraiche (a little finely minced rosemary?). This was a slightly busier pizza than I normally tolerate but I do recall attempting to make some sort of version of it at home several times.

    I have always considered her pizza one of the great early versions of pizza I've ever tasted. I don't even think it's a stretch to say that she helped turn an indifferent pizza person into a low level Pizzaioli and a believer that pizza was worth getting excited about.
  • Post #7 - April 15th, 2006, 8:11 am
    Post #7 - April 15th, 2006, 8:11 am Post #7 - April 15th, 2006, 8:11 am
    PIGMON wrote: I don't remember all the ingredients she used on this pizza but I clearly recall enjoying the bread very much as well as the caramelized red onions (with a trace of vinegar), goat cheese, and a tad of crème fraiche (a little finely minced rosemary?). This was a slightly busier pizza than I normally tolerate but I do recall attempting to make some sort of version of it at home several times. .


    Pizza purist and fanatic that I am, I find California-style gourmet pizza, as popularized 20 years ago by Wolfgang Puck and characterized by non-traditional toppings on mediocre crust, to be more gimmicky than tasty. However, the major exception to this is the Chez Panisse Cafe (or was since I haven't been there in many years). The creativity and quality of Waters' toppings continue to mesmerize me. Her 1984 book "Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza, and Calzone" is a frequent source of ideas when I want to top a traditional crust with non-traditional ingredients. Among the combos I love are:

    Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola, and Rosemary
    Leeks, Pancetta and Goat Cheese
    Fennel and Mussels (with Pernod)
    Squid and Red Peppers
    Duck Confit and Pearl Onions

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #8 - April 15th, 2006, 11:40 am
    Post #8 - April 15th, 2006, 11:40 am Post #8 - April 15th, 2006, 11:40 am
    You know, I'm sure Chez Panisse pizza is a fine thing, made with the exquisite care she's famous for. It's just sort of like our discussion about hamburgers long ago; it's not hard for a place hitting a higher price point and with a kitchen with 97 people working in it to make an outstanding pizza full of the finest fresh ingredients, but at the same time, part of what we admire with certain foods is the miracle of the humble place: the little hole in the wall that, through years of practice and a commitment to quality within price constraints, produces something wonderful for a buck fifty. It's just a lot more interesting to discover a great pizza in a humble place like that, than to celebrate a place like Chez Panisse for extending its excellence that much further. I hear Vladimir Nabokov could write a hell of a thank-you note, too.

    But anyway, the main point is just that usual old coastal snobbery toward Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I mean, a list that can take in the 80s trend toward froufrou duck sausage pizzas with hoisin sauce but completely looks down its nose at an exuberantly over the top indigenous American art form like the Chicago deep dish-- it's like an interview with Andre Previn I read once where, pressed, he acknowledged that Stephen Sondheim perhaps proved that music hadn't completely died as an art form after about 1960. Thanks, Andre, we'll let you crawl back into your crypt now, and you try to hum the opening number from "Assassins" while John Mariani surveys the vast pizza wasteland from coast to coast.

    Image
    L. to R.: Andre Previn conducting at the Hollywood Bowl, John Mariani ordering a pizza from Spago.
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  • Post #9 - April 15th, 2006, 3:33 pm
    Post #9 - April 15th, 2006, 3:33 pm Post #9 - April 15th, 2006, 3:33 pm
    Mike G wrote:You know, I'm sure Chez Panisse pizza is a fine thing, made with the exquisite care she's famous for. It's just sort of like our discussion about hamburgers long ago; it's not hard for a place hitting a higher price point and with a kitchen with 97 people working in it to make an outstanding pizza full of the finest fresh ingredients, but at the same time, part of what we admire with certain foods is the miracle of the humble place: the little hole in the wall that, through years of practice and a commitment to quality within price constraints, produces something wonderful for a buck fifty. It's just a lot more interesting to discover a great pizza in a humble place like that, than to celebrate a place like Chez Panisse for extending its excellence that much further.


    Chez Panisse did start out as a humble place--idealistic hippies who wanted to open up a little place, grow some organic vegetables, and feed their friends. And now, 30 some odd years later, their pizza's are still right around $10 to $12.

    So at what point does the little hole in the wall that, through years of practice and a commitment to quality within price constraints, cease to be interesting? When they begin to garner notoriety? When they become a tourist attraction?

    And as for Chicago Deep Dish as art form--(let's not get crazy) but, yea people don't take it seriously, and it's their loss, no? Or maybe Deep Dish is just ahead of its time. Though when eventually it is discovered by the greater pizza eating population--there will be well-documented proof that you, Mike G, were one of its earliest, and most staunch supporters. :wink:
  • Post #10 - April 15th, 2006, 3:54 pm
    Post #10 - April 15th, 2006, 3:54 pm Post #10 - April 15th, 2006, 3:54 pm
    Chez Panisse may have started humble, it may even BE humble, but it ain't the same humble as your average pizza place. More to the point, if it started today setting out to make the same pizza, it couldn't, because it couldn't get the quality of produce that it can get today thanks to its own track record and pioneering work in developing suppliers. I don't fault it for that, quite the opposite. Alice Waters is a hero in anyone's (cook)book. I'm just saying, it's a different creature than most of those New York or New Haven places on the list, or the Chicago ones off it. It's the wagyu brisket on the list.

    As for me being some kinda pioneer in appreciating Chicago deep dish, I say no such thing, I merely find the people who write off an entire major pizza style because they're narrowly focused on thin crust and the Neapolitan ideal (as Mariani confesses up front) to be, well, narrowly focused. It's like listing the ten best breakfast places in the country and ignoring the entire South because you don't like grits.
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  • Post #11 - April 15th, 2006, 4:02 pm
    Post #11 - April 15th, 2006, 4:02 pm Post #11 - April 15th, 2006, 4:02 pm
    Mike G wrote:.... it's not hard for a place hitting a higher price point and with a kitchen with 97 people working in it to make an outstanding pizza full of the finest fresh ingredients,...


    Hmm, it'd be hard to fit 97 folks in front of the Chez Panisse pizza oven:

    Image

    (From www.mugnaini.com )

    Seriously, Mike, I have to think that you've never been to Chez Panisse. When I lived in Berkeley I ate at the upstairs cafe probably once a week. (I was on a late schedule then and at the time it was almost the only place in town serving dinner after 9 pm.) I usually ordered a pizza or their goat cheese calzone -- I have NO PROBLEM seeing Chez Panisse on a list of great pizza places. And what Alice Waters has done and continues to do at Chez Panisse has absolutely nothing to do with the absurd, repulsive combinations marketed by California Pizza Kitchen and the like.

    Amata
  • Post #12 - April 15th, 2006, 4:11 pm
    Post #12 - April 15th, 2006, 4:11 pm Post #12 - April 15th, 2006, 4:11 pm
    I walked by it once.

    For the third time, I have no beef with Chez Panisse, I have no beef with it being on the list-- I have a beef with a list which, in its cosmopolitan provincialism, can find nothing worth eating between, basically, the western east coast and the eastern west coast.

    Image
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  • Post #13 - April 15th, 2006, 5:04 pm
    Post #13 - April 15th, 2006, 5:04 pm Post #13 - April 15th, 2006, 5:04 pm
    Mike,

    Geeeesh, first Swedes now Chez Panisse, I'm afraid to see what comes next.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #14 - April 15th, 2006, 5:07 pm
    Post #14 - April 15th, 2006, 5:07 pm Post #14 - April 15th, 2006, 5:07 pm
    trixie-pea wrote:And as for Chicago Deep Dish as art form--(let's not get crazy) but, yea people don't take it seriously, and it's their loss, no?


    Indeed, let's not get crazy, though talk of pizza often devolves into mayhem around here.

    *

    Some folks seem to want to have things both ways: they regard Chicago stuffed pizza as a unique, local creation but then also want it to be included in discussions of great 'pizza' (narrow sense). For me, it is sufficiently different from the mainstream that the exclusion from the 'narrowly-focussed' discussion is quite reasonable, but then I see stuffed pizza as, indeed, a local dish with an obvious old world geneology but definitely something that is distinct and unique to Chicago, something which has its basis outside of the mainstream tradition (savoury holiday pies with a lot of stuff in them rather than "bread with a little stuff on it," to quote myself).

    Like Bill, I'm pretty serious about pizza and spend a fair amount of energy making it at home, in part because I'm not satisfied by the offerings I've generally encountered here and can do better at home and in part because I really want to know how it works (when I win the lottery, the first purchase is a proper brick oven). Now, from that perspective, I can see how a comparison of pizzas at places in Naples and Rome and New York and Marseille and at least one in Berkeley can be done, but I don't see how that comparison could reasonably include a stuffed pizza from Chicago. Of course, one can say: 'I prefer this one! It's the yummiest!', but obviously, that level of analysis is not all that interesting. One would hope to analyse and discuss the pizzas -- and really this does come down to the crust -- in the sort of terms one sees in the discussion I read from Bill's recent link to the pizza-makers' site. The crust is the commonality, not the toppings and the presence of tomatoes and a form of 'mozzarella' (albeit of the low moisture loaf variety) is not enough to make Chicago deep-dish or stuffed pies something that is easily or reasonably compared with mainstream style pizzas.

    But perhaps that is too narrow a focus and pizza should be defined as "a crust of any composition or form, dressed with any ingredients and baked in some form of oven."

    So then we can proceed with a more universal survey. But then, I pose the question: what pizzerias -- of whatever style -- in Chicago match places like the genuine and widely recognised greats of New York or Chez Panisse for the overall quality of ingredients and skill of the pizzaioli?

    Hey, Pigmon, you're a native here; can you suggest any?

    Antonius

    P.S. Notate bene: This post is not intended as a put-down of the Chicago style in any way, shape, or form. Quite the opposite, I believe I have highlighted its unique status, which I can appreciate even if I don't especially like to eat it.
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #15 - April 15th, 2006, 5:41 pm
    Post #15 - April 15th, 2006, 5:41 pm Post #15 - April 15th, 2006, 5:41 pm
    Antonius wrote:So then we can proceed with a more universal survey. But then, I pose the question: what pizzerias -- of whatever style -- in Chicago match places like the genuine and widely recognised greats of New York or Chez Panisse for the overall quality of ingredients and skill of the pizzaioli?


    At the risk of stating the obvious, here's a partial list:

    Uno's/Due's (Original location only)
    Lou Malnati's
    Pequod's
    Marie's
    Vito & Nicks
    Spacca Napoli

    And, in Milwaukee, Zaffaro's
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #16 - April 15th, 2006, 5:58 pm
    Post #16 - April 15th, 2006, 5:58 pm Post #16 - April 15th, 2006, 5:58 pm
    The best east coast pizza I ever had, by far, was in Portland, Maine. Very Panissian, admirably so. Name to follow [edit: Flatbread Company, see review here], though I'm sure John Mariani will never venture that direction out of his bubble, either.

    John's is the only pizza I ever ate in New York that rose above mediocrity, as far as I'm concerned. I don't doubt there are better to be had, even great to be had, but naming Chicago pizzas which use better ingredients and taste better than every other pizza I've eaten in New York, including at some vaunted spots, would merely be rubbing it in their faces. No, I don't hate New York pizza. I want to believe in it. Someday, maybe, I will have more than one reason to.

    JeffB offers one solid reason for the superiority of our run of the mill to theirs here. He also speaks for me when he says, sagely: "There is room in my house for many pizze, verily. There is something to be said for each "famous" kind of pie, explaining why people not from NYC, Chicago, New Haven, Napoli, etc. look forward to eating pizza in these places."

    Hooray for pizza, from sea to shining sea.
    Last edited by Mike G on April 15th, 2006, 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #17 - April 15th, 2006, 6:18 pm
    Post #17 - April 15th, 2006, 6:18 pm Post #17 - April 15th, 2006, 6:18 pm
    stevez wrote:At the risk of stating the obvious, here's a partial list:

    Steve,

    I'd add the terrific wood-fired pizza I had at Avec on Thursday, a perfect combination of cured sardines, shaved lardo, fennel and arugula. Just typing the words, especially lardo, make my eyes sparkle and salivary glands start to, well, salivate. :)

    House made chickpea gnocchi with rosemary venison ragu and nicoise olives was a standout as was "deluxe" focaccia with taleggio cheese, truffle oil and fresh herbs, though the whole meal, with one misstep in the form of a crispy short rib appetizer, was the typical Avec/Blackbird stellar.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Avec
    615 W. Randolph
    Chicago, IL 60661
    312-377-2002
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #18 - April 17th, 2006, 5:33 pm
    Post #18 - April 17th, 2006, 5:33 pm Post #18 - April 17th, 2006, 5:33 pm
    Who in the hell cares whether one of the world's greatest pizzas comes from a Midas muffler shop or Chez Panisse or for that matter, if a pizzeria resides in Chicago or Moab, Utah? It seems to me that this perpetually reoccurring argument has everything to do with Chicagoan’s amazing historic persistence for creating unique paradigms with their various art forms, such as whether we’re talking about its architecture or its food.
    Unfortunately, in this case, many people NATIONALLY just don’t enjoy our pizza, period. To blame it on some sort of coastal bias or lack of imagination is ludicrous. Just because we expanded the pizza playing field by inventing deep dish pizza doesn’t automatically put us at the highest levels of the pizza world.

    Unfortunately, as much as I hate to admit it, I find our overall pizza experience here to be subpar. The stuff is, often times, long on gluttony and short on subtlety. And as much as I would love to say that Chicago has at least one pizzeria that would make my top ten pizza list, I cannot. I will say that with Spacca Napoli, we finally have a pizzaioli in our town that cares enough about the art of pizza making and uses first rate ingredients such as imported fresh mozzarellas, San Marzano tomatoes, fine grade flours, and fresh herbs instead of the rampant crappy plastic cheeses, overly buttery short crusts, and Chef Boy-R–Dee level tomato sauces often times found at even the most highly touted pizzerias in Chicago.
    I love Holsum white bread with certain forms of BBQ as much as the next guy, but I don’t kid myself into thinking it should be able to hold up to the artistry and craftsmanship of, say, a Fox & Obel baguette.

    I have grown up in Chicago my whole life and love this city as much as anybody. But to delude ourselves into thinking that any of our prized pizzerias are highly crafted works of art that rival the upper echelons of pizza making worldwide borders on the comical. The overall seriousness and attention to detail applied at virtually every top pizzeria here compared to the many great pizzerias on such a list as Mariani’s is obvious to anybody who has bothered to have done their due diligence and actually frequented more than a just a few of them.
  • Post #19 - April 17th, 2006, 5:49 pm
    Post #19 - April 17th, 2006, 5:49 pm Post #19 - April 17th, 2006, 5:49 pm
    PIGMON wrote:I have grown up in Chicago my whole life and love this city as much as anybody. But to delude ourselves into thinking that any of our prized pizzerias are highly crafted works of art that rival the upper echelons of pizza making worldwide borders on the comical.


    There are many types of pizzas. There is the European/Naples style, prized so highly by Antonius and PIGMON. There is the East Coast foldable style, prized also by PIGMON and others (as well as the NYC heatlamp style, prized by no one). There is the West Coast Hippy Style as produced by Chez Panisse and Wolfgang Puck, prized by sprout lovers everywhere, and there's the two styles of Chicago pizza...Deep Dish and Cracker Thin Crust, prized by hundreds of thousands of visitors to our fair city every year and, of course, many, many natives (me among them).

    All of these styles are different unto themselves. One does not exclude another. They all have their lovers and haters. No complete list of notable pizzas would be complete without representation from all of the above mentioned groups. To think otherwise is simply pure pizza snobbery.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - April 17th, 2006, 6:07 pm
    Post #20 - April 17th, 2006, 6:07 pm Post #20 - April 17th, 2006, 6:07 pm
    stevez wrote:there's the two styles of Chicago pizza...Deep Dish and Cracker Thin Crust, prized by hundreds of thousands of visitors to our fair city every year and, of course, many, many natives (me among them).

    I'm with Mike G on the deep-dish question, but somewhere I must have missed a history lesson. Since when is Chicago laying claim to cracker crusts? Sure there are places here that serve it, but does anyone claim it originated here? Who? Where?

    It certainly seems to be available in a variety of pizzerias across the country.
  • Post #21 - April 17th, 2006, 8:00 pm
    Post #21 - April 17th, 2006, 8:00 pm Post #21 - April 17th, 2006, 8:00 pm
    LAZ wrote: Sure there are places here that serve it, but does anyone claim it originated here?


    No. The only claim is there are notable examples that deserve to be in a listing of outstanding pizzas.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #22 - April 17th, 2006, 10:12 pm
    Post #22 - April 17th, 2006, 10:12 pm Post #22 - April 17th, 2006, 10:12 pm
    Pigmon! I could kiss you! Thanks for the inspired and correct screed!
  • Post #23 - April 17th, 2006, 10:36 pm
    Post #23 - April 17th, 2006, 10:36 pm Post #23 - April 17th, 2006, 10:36 pm
    Of course, Aurelio's is widely recognized as the best pizza in Naples.

    http://www.aureliosofnaples.com/naples_news_awards.htm




    There's a point here: I've observed that in areas without a pizza culture, but plenty of East Coast and Chicago transplants (and pizzarie to serve them), Chicago style does very well with the city-neutral buyers. This holds true not only in SoFL, but in AZ, NV, CO, and parts of CA (the Inland Empire and OC stand out, as does the example of Zachy's in the East Bay). And these are not Olive Gardeners; the fans voting for "Bests" in the local press are the broad level of casual "foodies" who might show up on Check Please!, do a Metromix review, take a wine tasting class, and watch Iron Chef.

    Chicago pizza tastes pretty good compared to the crap that 99.9% of Wal-Mart America otherwise has, and it's easy enough to duplicate if you can source the sausage and cheese, which can't be too tough. This is in stark contrast to Neapolitan and East Coast pizzas, which take some skill, equipment, and a discerning audience. Believe me, there's a guy from Jersey selling "NY Style" in every strip mall along I-75 and I-95, mostly very bad.

    Again, I think fresh masa is an obvious parallel: beyond Chicago, SoCal and the Southwest, it isn't reality in this country. Too tricky and dependent on high volume and turnover, unless it is being done on a "fine dining" level a la Spago, Pizzeria Bianco, Topolobambo, etc...
  • Post #24 - April 18th, 2006, 7:36 am
    Post #24 - April 18th, 2006, 7:36 am Post #24 - April 18th, 2006, 7:36 am
    And, in Milwaukee, Zaffaro's


    Steve,

    I know it's probably a typo, but just in case someone's taking notes, it's:

    Zaffiro's
    1724 N Farwell Ave
    Milwaukee, WI 53202-1806

    A good place to seek that iconic cracker-crust pizza.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #25 - April 18th, 2006, 9:11 pm
    Post #25 - April 18th, 2006, 9:11 pm Post #25 - April 18th, 2006, 9:11 pm
    You know, for reasons to be posted about shortly I was blessedly away from this thread (and the various other digs and gibes at me to be found scattered, like Easter eggs, all over the board in my absence; which under the circumstances come off like the well-lubricated fellow in a bar who doesn't realize that the guy he's fighting with hasn't been there for the last half hour) but coming back to this thread (and its fellows) cold after a few days, I have to say, they kind of read like this:

    GUY: You know, Chicago pizza is its own style and, well, golly, don't shoot me for sayin' this but I think, well, it can be pretty darn tasty, too--

    OTHER GUY: THERE YOU CRAZY CHICAGOANS GO AGAIN WITH YOUR INSANE IRRATIONAL RANTING ABOUT CHICAGO PIZZA BEING THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD! DON'T YOU REALIZE HOW TOTALLY BATSHIT CRAZY YOU SOUND WHEN YOU COME TOTALLY FRICKIN' UNGLUED LIKE THAT? IF YOU WOULD JUST CALM DOWN FOR ONE SECOND YOU WOULD REALIZE THAT IT'S ONLY YOUR INSECURITY ABOUT CHICAGO AS THE SECOND CITY THAT MAKES YOU OVERCOMPENSATE BY GOING ALL DENNIS HOPPER IN APOCALYPSE NOW LIKE THIS! FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, CAN'T YOU JUST RELAX ABOUT PIZZA?

    GUY: Uh, I'm going to go talk to those folks over there. Excuse me a second.


    Image
    Fig. 1. A typically mild-mannered Chicagoan, just tryin' to help you out here.

    Looking forward eagerly to the reports on New York pizza later this week, which I hear can be very good,

    Mike G(eepers)
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #26 - April 19th, 2006, 4:41 am
    Post #26 - April 19th, 2006, 4:41 am Post #26 - April 19th, 2006, 4:41 am
    Mike G wrote:GUY: Uh, I'm going to go talk to those folks over there. Excuse me a second.[/i]

    Mike,

    Now that you mention bar, I remember where I know you from. You're the guy in the tavern who doesn't like Swedes. Right?

    Enjoy,
    Gary (Who recently mentioned he liked deep dish at the original Uno's to a pizza purist friend and was greeted with such disdain it brought back memories of the time I took off my shirt at Muscle Beach in Venice, Calif.)
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #27 - April 19th, 2006, 5:39 am
    Post #27 - April 19th, 2006, 5:39 am Post #27 - April 19th, 2006, 5:39 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    Enjoy,
    Gary (Who recently mentioned he liked deep dish at the original Uno's to a pizza purist friend and was greeted with such disdain it brought back memories of the time I took off my shirt at Muscle Beach in Venice, Calif.)


    That was You at Venice Beach?
  • Post #28 - April 19th, 2006, 2:45 pm
    Post #28 - April 19th, 2006, 2:45 pm Post #28 - April 19th, 2006, 2:45 pm
    stevez wrote:There are many types of pizzas. There is the European/Naples style, prized so highly by Antonius and PIGMON. There is the East Coast foldable style, prized also by PIGMON and others (as well as the NYC heatlamp style, prized by no one). [1]There is the West Coast Hippy Style as produced by Chez Panisse and Wolfgang Puck, prized by sprout lovers everywhere, and[2] there's the two styles of Chicago pizza...Deep Dish and Cracker Thin Crust, prized by hundreds of thousands of visitors to our fair city every year and, of course, many, many natives (me among them).

    All of these styles are different unto themselves. One does not exclude another. They all have their lovers and haters. No complete list of notable pizzas would be complete without representation from all of the above mentioned groups. [3]To think otherwise is simply pure pizza snobbery.

    [emphasis added]

    Steve,

    I have to disagree with some of the points you make but do so respectfully and without any rancour whatsoever.

    1) The "hippy" and "sprout lover" comments don't strengthen a point that in my view isn't all that accurately formulated in the first place. I think it quite wrong to throw Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck and all other California-pizza makers into the same category. Puck has his place in the recent history of American cookery but in the end he's probably made more of an impact as an entrepreneur than as a great chef. Alice Waters on the other hand is clearly not of the same commercial ilk -- quite the opposite, she embodies a pure passion for excellence in cookery. I just fail to understand the joking or snide dismissal of her on the basis of her being in California. On the contrary, she deserves great respect for all that she has contributed to the development of some culinary sophistication in a country that had assiduously tried to eliminate that for many decades.

    Also, with specific regard to the style of topping pizzas that she uses, look again at the list of combinations that Bill of Santa Fe mentions:

    Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola, and Rosemary
    Leeks, Pancetta and Goat Cheese
    Fennel and Mussels (with Pernod)
    Squid and Red Peppers
    Duck Confit and Pearl Onions

    There is nothing silly here, nor anything that one could say is just latching onto what is trendy (esp. since Ms. Waters has ofttimes been the source for others of 'trends'). Quite the opposite, these are from a culinary standpoint well thought out pairings. Note too that this approach to dressing pizzas is really not so innovative as it likely seems to many, for in fact at Chez Panisse they are in my estimation going back to the spirit of Italian pizza (and its analogues elsewhere in the Mediterranean), namely, "bread with a little stuff on it," with the identity of the stuff being left up to what is available and what one's whim and imagination comes up with.

    On the other hand, you're right that there seems to be a distinctive or (to my mind) peculiar California style of dressing pies, as exemplified by CPK:
    http://www.cpk.com/menu/pizzas.aspx

    That stuff aside, the almost complete identity of 'pizza' with cheese and tomatoes in this country is really from the Old World perspective quite off the mark. This leads us to the second point...

    [to be posted anon, perhaps]

    saluti amichevoli,
    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #29 - April 19th, 2006, 3:01 pm
    Post #29 - April 19th, 2006, 3:01 pm Post #29 - April 19th, 2006, 3:01 pm
    A,

    I agree with you that Alice Waters doesn't even belong in the same thought as Wolfgang, etc., but still I feel that it is a particular "California School" of pizza making that they all belong to. Granted Ms. Waters is surely the originator and the rest are merely hacks. Given the choice, I'd take a Chez Panisse pizza over any of the others. I also agree that her choice of ingredients aligns somewhat with the Neapolitan style, but the execution is a style unto itself and not at all the same as one would find in Naples, for example (or New York or Chicago, for that matter). This is not a bad thing, it just puts her style of pizza into its own classification.

    P.S. There is no rancor here, either. I'm just trying to keep the bulldozer of disrespect from running over our own unique style of pizza. Love it or hate it, it certainly qualifies for recognition.

    That stuff aside, the almost complete identity of 'pizza' with cheese and tomatoes in this country is really from the Old World perspective quite off the mark.


    There is much about this country that is "off the mark" from a European perspective. That's what makes America great/different. That doesn't necessarily amount to a bad thing.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #30 - April 19th, 2006, 6:28 pm
    Post #30 - April 19th, 2006, 6:28 pm Post #30 - April 19th, 2006, 6:28 pm
    That stuff aside, the almost complete identity of 'pizza' with cheese and tomatoes in this country is really from the Old World perspective quite off the mark. This leads us to the second point...

    [to be posted anon, perhaps]


    Which, if I may be a bit of a gun-jumper, has to do with the three styles of Chicago pizza, perhaps? (stuffed notwithstanding.) Might this be the addition of bakery pizza to cracker-thin and deep dish, the style of pan pizza a la D'Amato's, Sicilia, Scafuri, Ferrara, Masi's ISB, etc...?? I thought so.

    Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo, indeed....

    Sergio Rebone

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