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Pizza in the news

Subtract 1:32 from my 15 minutes of fame

I like how it says “Pizza lover” under my name for the onscreen graphics.

Fair trade?: Pizza for guilty plea

A man from New York City has agreed to plea guilty to a murder he committed in Oregon, but only if he can get pizza in jail while serving his life sentence.

The article doesn’t mention any detailed stipulations about what kind of pizza; I would imagine that’d be a major factor though. I mean, it actually would be torture if you could get pizza, but for the rest of your life it could only be some frozen school lunch garbage.

The Boston Globe on true Neapolitan pizza

The Globe just ran a piece about what authentic pizza from Naples is really like, with a run-down of some of the spots there worth checking out. The article gets a little melodramatic / romantic at times, but all in good fun…

…She romanced her pizza: carefully cutting a slice, raising it on her fork, admiring it before she wrapped her lips around it. Chewing slowly, she savored the pizza in her mouth, then closed her eyes to swallow before she smiled.

“Pizzas 4 Patriots”

Pizza 4 Patriots

My friend Mary just gave me a heads up on this one…

Retired Air Force master sergeant Mark Evans and his son, who live in Illinois, have started a campaign to send a whole bunch of Chicago pizzas to American military troops overseas.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria has agreed to give Evans pizzas at a discounted rate to help the cause. The initial goal was 300 pies, but Evans has received so much support for the effort that the number has grown far beyond that — as many as 3,000.

The pizzas will obviously have to be shipped frozen, a task which DHL has offered to do for free. Even though the pizza is frozen, it’s still pizza.
Personally, I’m 100% opposed to the war we’re in right now, but I won’t get too into that here; I’m just glad to see someone actually supporting the people who have to be over there instead of buying a phony magnet for their bumper and leaving it at that.

If you’re interested in contibuting to the “Pizza 4 Patriots” effort, you can write Mark Evans at sgtevans@sbcglobal.net.

More coverage via USA Today and Chicago’s Daily Herald.

Domino’s fastest pizza maker

Domino's fastest pizza maker competition

Domino’s just held a competition for “World’s Fastest Pizza Maker” in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The winner, Dennis Tran, who has now won the annual contest 3 times, put together 3 pies in 46.4 seconds.

There’s something that just seems wrong about this whole contest to me. I mean, sure, timeliness is generally a good thing; but I would much rather have my pie made well than made fast. I suppose it makes perfect sense though, because this is Domino’s we’re talking about here.

The Ann Arbor News has the full scoop on the competition, plus this video:

Happy birthday to modern pizza!

Pizza Abstracted; or, Jetset Pizza

Tomorrow, 11 June, we celebrate the 119th birthday of modern pizza by honoring an historic event in 1889.
The following is from a recent newsletter I got from Scott’s Pizza Tours.

In 1889, King Umberto and his wife Queen Margherita of Savoy embarked upon a goodwill tour of a newly unified Italy. The queen requested a special pizza tasting as part of the royal couple’s visit to Naples in order to join in the growing popularity of what was generally a street food for the poor. She hired a pizzaiolo (pizza maker, pie man) by the name of Rafaele Esposito to prepare a variety of pizzas. Legend has it that Esposito’s wife Brandi placed a handful of basil leaves atop a pie that already boasted fresh mozzarella and tomato, giving it all three colors of the Italian flag. Margherita enjoyed this pie so much that she had a letter sent to Esposito declaring the pizza “buonissime.” The wise businessman he was, Rafaele named the pizza in Margherita’s honor.

The royal thank you note is dated June 11, 1889 and still hangs in Pizzeria Brandi to this day. Therefore, it is on this day that we celebrate the birth of the modern pizza.

So tomorrow, grab a delicious slice of the good stuff and chow in celebration.

PS: My apologies for the cliché graphic above; I couldn’t help myself. See the original idea by Experimental Jetset here.

Green pizza

earth_pizza.jpg

Pizza isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think about threats to the well-being of planet Earth. Nonetheless, choices about pizza, from the way ingredients are farmed all the way through the boxes they’re delivered in, can affect the environment.

With this in mind, I’m glad to be seeing some smart moves being made in the pizza industry lately. Some are clearly just weak attempts to jump on what seems to be a “green” bandwagon, but others do seem to actually be more than just weak marketing gimmicks.

Most notably is probably a francise called Pizza Fusion, whose motto is “saving the earth, one pizza at a time”. Among other things, they aim to clean up the act of pizza making by using organic ingredients, delivering with hybrid cars, using biodegradable containers, etc. There’s a PBS video about the company on YouTube which gives a good idea of what they do.

Next on the list, Pizza Hut recently announced that they will be offering an all-natural pizza. I’m a little more skeptical about this move, as I don’t exactly think of YUM! Brands as a company that cares too much about the environment. My guess is they’re just flailing around for any kind of business boost during the recent pizza-depression, and they figured the “green” bandwagon might pay off.

In a similar vein, Papa John’s is testing the tree-hugger business waters by offering a whole wheat pizza crust.

This whole idea of earth- and health-conscious pizza as a business move isn’t limited to only big corporate pizza either though. Not too long ago in Boston, TJ’s House of Pizza probably noticed how well their next-door neighbor, Grasshopper, was doing by serving all-vegan Asian fare (their “No-Name” special rules my dreams). For a while TJ’s offered vegan options as an alternative to their otherwise-standard pizza and subs menu. Apparently that went well, and the store eventually had a total transformation, changing their name to TJ Scallywaggle’s, painting their walls green, and switching the menu to all vegan-safe pizza, subs, etc.

Similarly, I was at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn not too long ago when I overheard the following conversation between the guy serving slices (who was presumably also the owner) and a drunken jock…

Jock: Where are all your meat-covered slices? What’s up with all this vegan shit? I want some meat!
Slice guy: Hey man, believe me, I love meat pizza. But the vegan stuff sells. This is a business, so if something sells, we’re gonna take advantage of it.
Jock: Fuck those vegan pussies. They need to man up and eat some meat!
Slice guy: *laughs*

Regardless of whether or not the person offering the greener or healthier pizza really cares about such stuff beyond how much money it can make them, I’m pretty glad to be seeing more of these kinds of things being offered. While I am vegetarian and do care about environmental friendliness I don’t quite have the time to maintain my own pizza garden, so it’s nice to have these kinds of options.

New world record already

The world record for longest line of pizza that I mentioned in the last post has already been broken in Australia by a mere one meter.

If you ask me, that’s kinda weak. I mean, c’mon… if you’re gonna try to break a record, at least try to blow it away.

World record pizza

This weekend, a pizza maker in Fort Pierce, Florida, will attempt to break the current world record for the longest line of pizzas (611 feet, 2 inches) by preparing enough pizza to stretch 700 feet.

This seems much more practical than making one extra large pizza… the current record for that (according to my 20 seconds of research) is 122 feet, 8 inches.

Backyard pizza

Now that summer is almost officially here, I’ve been BBQing with my roommates much more. We’ve even seriously discussed making June “BBQ Month”, in the same vein as Pizza Month; I don’t think that will really happen, but I’m sure we’ll ’Q at least 2 or 3 times a week.

Anyhow, I’ve had innumerable people ask me lately if I’ve ever tried BBQing a pizza. I can’t say I ever have, but I’ve come across a few related things lately that seemed to warrant a post on the topic.

First of all, the most obvious and inexpensive thing that comes to mind when thinking BBQ + pizza is some kind of apparatus to enable you to cook a pie on your existing grill. I haven’t done any extensive research on the topic, but have come across 2 such items in the past couple weeks by chance. The first is a circular pizza stone that sits on the grill, and the second is basically the same idea, but in rectangular form. Both cost about $100.

Villaware PizzaGrill

The next option is a huge price jump, and I’m somewhat skeptical of it, considering. If you’ve got $2,000 to blow, you might go for a Beehive pizza oven. Maybe it’s just me, but in the little demo video on their product page, it looks like the pizza and the ashes are a bit cramped in there. The fact that the pizza is obviously photoshopped in to the promo photo doesn’t help too much either.

Beehive pizza oven

Finally, I came across an unfortunate news story about a guy in Orlando who obviously wasn’t feeling these novelty backyard pizza-cooking accessories, and said “Fuck it! I’ll just build my own backyard setup”. The sad news is that his neighborhood association is suing him for doing so. Classic case of old Floridians with nothing better to do than complain about their neighbors. Honestly – why would you not want a real pizza oven next door? You know the dude’s gonna have sick parties.

Backyard pizza oven

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