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Pizza Toppings

by Marko Peric

Pizza is one of those foods that can be prepared in entirely too many different ways. Thin crust, thick crust, cheese-stuffed crust, summer herb crust, deep dish thin crust — need I continue? And with just a few changes, the end result is entirely different. Just compare a pepperoni, bacon and mushroom pizza with one containing olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta cheese. Okay, bad example. But you get my point. Pizza is a very versatile food.

What really makes or breaks the pizza is of course the toppings. One wrong choice and the whole thing is, well, not ruined, because it's not easy to totally ruin a pizza. Pizza is like chocolate or Star Trek, even when it's bad, it's good, unless it's really, truly horrible (i.e."Spock's Brain" — Trek people will know what I mean).

Pepperoni: The basic staple of the basic pizza. If your taste doesn't run to vegetarian, and if you aren't one of those nuts that think pineapple is a reasonable food product to serve hot, covered in cheese and with ham, you probably have pepperoni on most of the pizza you eat. Pepperoni is the safe topping. Hardly any non-vegans find it offensive, something that you can't say for almost every other topping choice. Pepperoni can be a bit monotonous, though. It's versatile, but it's hardly exciting. And none of the more esoteric pizza choices include it. So it squeaks into the Good column, but barely.

Green Peppers: I like green peppers on most anything that can handle them. Just keep them away from my breakfast cereal and toast, and out of my desserts, and they go with most anything. And when you cook with them, they make the whole house smell great. When anyone comes in, they know there's going to be something good for dinner. On a pizza the green pepper is most useful to add some colour. I find a lot of the flavour is lost into the pizza and gets baked away in the oven. But it adds such a nice dash of green. There's not many green things that one can safely put on a pizza. Green pepper is Good.

Pineapple: Some things are just bad ideas. Loaning your new Porsche to a 16 year old. Giving mediocre movie actresses like Brooke Shields and Geena Davis their own TV shows. Staying up way too late editing a webpage and listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young when you have to work in the morning. Putting a sweet, juicy fruit like pineapple on a pizza is right up there. Not only does it completely clash with the entire essence of pizza, but sometimes when the chunks of pineapple are too big, and there's too much cheese on top of them, they stay way, way too hot, and you end up with a mouthful of pineapple that's both too hot to swallow and burning your mouth, and you can't spit it out because you don't want to gross out your date. And no, that has never happened to me. But I still think pineapple is Bad.

Anchovies: This is something quite frankly that I don't understand. Apart from the context of pizza, pretty much no one would ever consider eating salty, greasy dead fish. Of course, even in the context of pizza, no one eats salty, greasy dead fish, because does anyone ever order anchovies? Someone must, or all the pizza places would have stopped the whole anchovy thing decades ago. Either that or there's a huge anchovy surplus and the government tapped pizza parlours to get rid of it all, and they slip a few anchovies into all the works pizzas. So basically anchovies are a vast conspiracy. How Ugly.

Extra Cheese: If anchovies are a vast conspiracy, extra cheese is a big scam. Pizza is supposed to be covered in cheese. A little more is a wasted topping. You have to be really into cheese to need extra. I could maybe see ordering extra cheese if you just couldn't hash out the last topping with your friends, or if you happen to be a masochist with severe lactose tolerance. The whole idea is generally Bad.


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