Philosophically speaking, I agree with almost everything the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do, say, and stand for.
As a kid, I aligned my values with the reptilian brotherhood as a unit, but their personalities were diverse enough that I could evolve with them over the years. In pre-school, I toted around a stuffed version of the hard-partying Michaelangelo. When I became a very mature grade-schooler, I more closely identified with Leonardo—a serious, hard-lined leader type. Today, I’m probably more in the Donatello camp—curious, geeky, inquisitive and experimental.
But as different as the boys were, they were always united by more than a just mission to defeat the evil Shredder (and that weird brain-in-a-robot’s-body, Krang). As born and bred New Yorkers, they bonded over a shared love of something far more powerful: pizza.
Today, it feels almost metaphorical that these four characters could find peace and common ground over pepperoni slices—hold the anchovies (for all our similarities, this decision being one with which I strongly disagree; all the anchovies for me, please). It feels like the world could similarly solve its problems if we all had a round table around a pie.
Of course, how that pie looks, smells and tastes would be heavily dependent on where we had it. These days, it seems regions all over the country—and the world—have their own situation when it comes to the iconic flatbread/topping structure with which we’re so familiar. In the U.S., it may be New York or New Haven or Chicago, and now emerging styles like “Rhode Island” or “Providence,” as well as Detroit. In Rome, you can find pizza al taglio, and due south in Sicily, it’s sfincione. There is of course the napoletano that gave birth to Margherita, but Italy isn’t the only stop on the global pizza tour. In Japan, anori and katsuobushi are common add-ons to their own take. In France, caramelized onions and creme fraiche. Koreans enjoy a bulgogi option, and in Lebanon and Syria, a dish called sfiha can be found gilded with ground mutton. Germans have flammkuchen, or tarte flambé, and in Iceland, you can find bananas with blue cheese (giving the pineapple/ham combo a run for its money).
Evidently, it’s a food that has been around for more than 12,000 years, but pizza has a long history as a peasant food regardless of culture, and tracking its global travel over time is a study in economic insights. Today, chefs are elevating the humble dish to new heights, challenging expectations and changing the game. It’s been both maligned and celebrated by royalty, and in pop culture, pizza has been championed by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Wolfgang Puck.
There is so much to learn and study when it comes to pizza, and naturally, at Life & Thyme, we got curious. So it is with gusto that we’ve decided to dedicate an entire theme to one of the world’s most beloved foods. Over the next few months, you can expect to read about different styles of pizza, as well as the people who make it for our enjoyment, the worlds and communities in which it proliferated and was popularized, and how it’s being pushed forward today.
Whether by the slice or the whole pie, folded in half or with a knife and fork, in a New York City sewer, or at your very own dining room table, we encourage you to order up and settle in for lots of pizza stories to come.