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Great pizza comes from keeping it simple

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At any given time, one in eight Americans is eating pizza. I love that statistic. So do the pizza restaurants.

Ah, pizza. Lunch, dinner or cold for breakfast, it might be the perfect food.

You’ll notice I say “might be.” That’s important. Even something as nearly perfect as pizza can be ruined by an overachiever in the kitchen.

Once in the dim, dark past I was presented with what was purported to be a pizza. It had many pizzoid characteristics. But on top of it was something I had never before seen on a pizza: A fried egg.

I shall pause briefly for you to say “Eeuww.”

I guess you can tell that this was one of those designer pizzas invented by one of those aforementioned overachievers, also known as people who haven’t anything better to do than try to ruin a good thing.

Where pizza is concerned, I will admit to a certain snobbishness. I know what I like and what I think is appropriate, and that is about as far as I am willing to take the discussion. Or the ordering.

I like a thin crust and minimal toppings. In fact, I think a beautifully prepared Pizza Margherita — thin, crisp crust brushed with olive oil and topped with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella and a few torn leaves of basil — is pretty much the top of the pizza heap.

You’ll notice the lack of fried egg.

I’m told the egg-on-top variation is the way pizza is served in France. Leave it to those wacky French to come up with something so weird. Or maybe not. I looked up what people in other countries like on their pizzas; and if an egg makes you say eeuww, you ain’t seen nothing yet:

Japan — Eel, potato and mayonnaise.

Germany — Canned tuna.

Russia — Sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions.

Australia — Emu, crocodile, kangaroo and barbecue sauce.

I found some other examples too — Swedish pizza with bananas and pineapple, Indian pizza with mutton and pickled ginger — but you get the idea. And, possibly, the heartburn.

But back to the rant. Fried eggs are not on my pizza radar. In fact, a lot of things are not on my pizza radar. Or, rather, on my pizza.

In my youth, I was a pizza-with-everything guy. My optimum pizza was sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, hot peppers, olives (black and green) and double cheese. Hold the egg. I wanted the crust to be thick, too. Not Chicago thick, mind you, but pretty substantial. Actually, I guess it had to be to hold all those groceries.

As the years have added up, though, I have jettisoned most of that stuff in favor of simplicity. A simple cheese pizza is fine with me. Pepperoni is OK if you have to put something else on top.

What matters to me now isn’t the stuff on top, it’s the stuff underneath — the crust. Great pizza is about a great crust. Everything else is secondary.

Which gets me back to the egg pizza. I did what any sane person would have done: scraped off the egg and greenery and ate the pizza. It wasn’t bad. And let’s face it, even with the egg it could have been much, much worse.

Just think — somewhere in America, someone could be eating a sardine pizza right now.

Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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