The first time I was called “Pizza Radical” was in a taxi bound for Pristina, Kosovo. While chatting with the Albanian-speaking driver in limited English, our friend needed an illustrative way to explain why I would eat pizza two times in one day.
The pizzeria was the most popular restaurant for dinner in that small town near the border with admittedly few options. Yet lunch was a carefully researched hunt for local flavor through toppings in the best reviewed place the capital had to offer. My favorite meal, usually available in small corners of an increasingly globalized world, gives me a reassuring taste of home while traveling far away.
Like the nickname, I believe that pizza is an epic revolution, the great equalizer of different cultures, social classes, and generations. The dish is deceivingly simple but remains at the mercy of skilled artisan hands and the highest quality locally-sourced ingredients. From seaweed-topped pizza in Japan to New Haven style with clams, every region caters the dish to their unique local flavor.
Each basic component boasts its own history, like the Europeans’ initial misconception that the strange tomato from South America was poisonous or passages about flat stones cooking dough in Virgil’s Aeneid. Traveling through periods of immigration, industrialization and mass consumption, pizza showcases the latest technology of self-rising crust or heatwave delivery bags. Even NASA experimented recently with 3D printers squeezing out and cooking up pizzas in space.
Pizza may be my favorite choice, but it is only one dish on the menu of this blog. I want to explore the economics, migration patterns, collective identity formation, and sometimes even wars that determine what we eat. Food is power, and with 9 billion hungry mouths to feed by 2050, there is no choice but to find sustainable options. This is a space to explore the untold history behind the food we eat, to reflect upon the present and predict future trends.