Warnings in May 2011

Pizza, when made right, is simply fantastic. Some people say that it’s got something to do with the water used, others say it’s the flour, then you’ve got your cheese heads, and you have your sauce fanatics, and your topping lovers. I, for one, am a lover of the crust, for whatever you add on a bad crust adds up to still be a bad pizza. The best pizza crust I’ve ever had has to be a literal toss up between two well-known joints in Staten Island, New York. The first, Joe and Pat’s, is right near the house I grew up in, and I was practically eating it since I had teeth, so I just might be a bit subjective on that one. But for the second, Denino’s, that’s surely not the case, since it was across the island from where I grew up, it was a treat to get there and wait on the hour long line. I’ve had the finest Chicago style pizza in Valparaiso, Indiana in The Olde Campus Inn which coincidentally was partly owned by yours truly before being swindled away from me by a broke and drunken idiot, but that’s another story for another day. In Hangzhou, we’ve got Peppinos in the Shangri-la with its wood fired oven pizzas. Then in Chengdu, we’ve got Peter Pan’s which certainly does a very respectable job, but Suzhou definitly takes the crust with Mario’s who do a more “traditional” style pizza, and now they put every other city to shame by having not one place, but two with Mammamia’s. Did you know that the highest-grossing single-unit independant pizzeria in the US is the Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria in Ancorage, Alaska and that its annual sales are about six million dollars? Anybody in for a trip up there?

I remember years ago travelling to Shanghai just to get a slice at the Yellow Submarine which isn’t that good anyway, but it surely did hit the trick. Nowadays you’ve practically got a decent pizzeria on every corner in Shanghai. And why can’t the same be true for us “lesser” cities? If one place can do it, surely others can follow suit. If Chinese people ate the same number of pizzas per capital as the Americans do, the world would see a spike in pizza consumtion from it’s now annual rate of five billion pizzas to an astounding seventeen billion pizzas per year. Now that’s some incentive, isn’t it? If you make it, they will come. Or rather if you make it well, they will come more. And please don’t tell me that Chinese people don’t like cheese. I’ve heard that one before, and on the same day that somebody told me that Starbucks wouldn’t succeed in China because Chinese people don’t like coffee. Rubbish! Can’t teach your employees to make a decent pie? Go to www.recipiepizza.com and use Google translate and you’ve got your clear instructions on how to make about any pizza known to man. Pizza, oh good pizza!

By Tim Hoerle