Pizza of the world
By Laura Aiken
This edition features Pizza Pide, a Turkish pizzeria in the east end of Toronto.
This edition features Pizza Pide, a Turkish pizzeria in the east end of Toronto. Writing this story of a pizzeria that enlivens its pies with favourite Turkish ingredients such as feta, and ground beef blended with peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley and herbs, inspired me to explore what pizza is like around the world. I knew toppings varied from country to country, but my findings were surprising and intriguing.
I have tried some global flavour firsthand. While vacationing in Cuba I noticed the resort was awfully fond of putting corn on its pizzas. Mind you, this is pretty tame compared to some of the more exotic ingredients I have learned about in my Internet travels. In Russia they commonly top pizza with mockba, a combination of sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions. Russians aren’t the only ones fond of seafood on their pies.
Eel and squid are common in Japan. Canned tuna can be found on German pizza. Australians love their shrimp, coupling it with pineapple and barbecue sauce, and also take a walk on the gamier side with emu-, kangaroo-, and crocodile-topped pizzas.
In India, you may find pickled ginger, minced mutton and paneer (traditional Indian fresh cheese). Many Italians settled in Brazil, which led to large communities and thus a liking for Italian-style pizza. They twist it up by adding green peas as a topping. Shredded carrots, beets and hearts of palm are also popular. You can find coconut on your pizza in Costa Rica and curry flavours in Pakistan. Thousand Island dressing doubles as sauce in China, and hotdogs serve as a pizza topping in Amsterdam. I found an image of a pizza from Kuwait that was finished with long sliced pickles.
Squid ink, caviar and curried banana aren’t unheard of. One of the strangest pizzas I came across was a crust slathered in tomato sauce and then topped with a Happy Meal (two cheeseburgers, nuggets and fries). Wow.
Pizza Hut sometimes finds itself in the news for its many pizza variations reflecting local tastes. The chain is enormous, with 7,200 restaurants in the United States and more than 5,600 restaurants in 90 countries worldwide. The company’s crown crust cheeseburger pizza for the Middle East market caused lots of Internet buzz with its crust made of cheeseburgers and shaped like a crown. The restaurant also does a crust made of hotdogs in Japan, a six-cheese blend pizza in Hong Kong and a coconut shrimp pie in Korea.
We are familiar with dipping sauce in North America, but several other countries use ketchup, mustard and mayo. Japan has a particularly popular blend called Mayo Jaga that is a combo of mayonnaise, potato and bacon.
Pizza is certainly a well-loved food the world over. This fact can provide a lot of inspiration for pizza makers in Canada. There is no sense in making a weird pizza for the sake of being weird, but there is logic in taking fusion to new levels in your store. Just look at how popular Thai pizza has become. We are starting to see India-inspired pizzas such as butter chicken pizza crop up on Canadian menus. Canada is an exciting place to be creative with food; it’s a market less traditionally bound than some by defined tastes and rules. Ours is a country where pizza can be as traditional or as progressive as we’d like it to be. Employ this trait to your advantage and let international flavours and innovations inspire your pizzeria to think outside the pizza box.
People talk, Tweet and blog about things that are different: claim your share of the market by making your pizzeria part of that conversation.