Pizza reflects our heritage


Like most Americans, I like American food. Such as pizza.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Oh, Mike Redmond, you are so silly. Pizza is not American. Pizza is Chinese. Marco Polo brought it back to Italy along with gunpowder and a stack of Jackie Chan DVDs (this was before Leonardo DaVinci invented Blu-ray).

OK, maybe not. Perhaps you’re thinking:

Oh, Mike Redmond, you have it wrong again. Pizza is authentic Italian food, just like chimichangas are authentic Mexican food, chop suey is authentic Chinese food and French’s mustard is authentic French food.

Anyway, I maintain that pizza has become an American food by virtue of being ubiquitous. It is found nearly everywhere and consumed by nearly everyone in this country. Our love for pizza crosses all boundaries, geographical, political, racial and philosophical.

True, pizza originated in Italy. But, I think you have to make a distinction between pizza as practiced in that country and pizza as practiced in this one – Italian pizza vs. American.

And so to the Italian immigrant, pizza.

We made it bigger, for one thing, as is our practice for just about everything, including ourselves. Then we started adding things – meats, vegetables, cheeses – in such profusion that a simple Italian street food made of bread, tomato and herbs transmogrified into a manhole cover of dough topped with half a garden and multiple preserved pig parts.

Pizza also reflects American regionalism. What passes for pizza in one part of the country would not qualify in another, and I’m not just talking New York Style vs. Chicago Style.

Regionalism can be reflected in our toppings. I read the other day that people in the Midwest are more inclined to top their pizza with sausage, while people in the Northeast prefer pepperoni. California you just have to forget altogether. Those people will put anything on a pizza.

But regional differences aside, pizza is American the same way we are American. Our families originated someplace else, and we don’t much resemble them anymore, because we are our own people now.

What goes for us goes for our food.

E pluribus, pizza. Also chow mein, tacos and fries.


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