Do you remember some of your favorite foods from childhood? If you grew up in the US, they likely centered heavily around a theme of meat & bread: PIZZA obv, hot dogs, mac & cheese (anybody but us have a mom who stretched this one w/ cut up, browned hot dog bites? No? Ok….) Now think about some of the foods that as a kid you’d rather have fallen on your sword (nevermind that it was a nerf-sword) than being subjected to eat: most vegetables, pretty much anything still resembling the animal it came from (I’m looking at you calamari 🐙👀), saucy foods .. unless of course it was tomato sauce slathered on a pizza…..
Needless to say, our tastes change as we get older, thank the good lord! If we never have to eat another hot dog in our lives we will.not.cry. about it! Though this isn’t true for all of us, generally speaking we become more adventurous eaters as we grow up. If you’re not sure whether this describes you or not, think about the last time you were invited to eat at someone’s house for a SECOND visit. If the answer is ‘never’ you might want to consider the range of your pallet. Or at least reconsider whether or not you want to continue reading this article…..
Popular Trends by Region
Health worldwide is on the rise, thankfully & for many cultures it’s just a natural part of the cuisine (think Mediterranean diet….). Popular foods in many places are, naturally, based on what’s readily available. Live on an island? Seafood. Midwest? Beef. The Tropics? Lots of fruit. Pizza toppings are no exception. Keep reading for some interesting & *ahem* unique toppings from various regions around the world. Some of these sound Uhh-mazing! & your next Pizza Chef & movies night might have some interesting twists before the movie even starts.
Asia, particularly Japan, is known for its adventurous spirit when it comes to food. Take, for example, the squid & ‘mayo jaga’ (mayo, potato, corn & bacon) combo. Or the popularity of cheeseless pizzas with squid ink used as a replacement to any kind of sauce.
Not to be outdone, Korea has a monstrosity coming out of the Seoul-based Mr. Pizza chain called the ‘Grand Prix’. This pizza is Frankensteined together with Shrimp, corn, mushroom, peppers, potato, bacon, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, raisins, COOKIE DOUGH CRUST & optional blueberry sauce.
After all that, the Hong Kong Pizza Hut favorite that includes crayfish, crab eggs, abalone sauce, cheddar cheese & zucchini among other things sounds downright tame. And there’s the Indian favorite: tandoori chicken or mutton, pickled ginger and paneer (sort of like cottage cheese only 1000x better!), with loads of mayo. Except for the ‘loads of mayo’ part which in our opinion is never the right decision, this one sounds pretty good.
Moving west toward Europe, let’s stop off in Russia 1st……
Enter: The ‘Moskva’ pizza named for the capital city we know as Moscow. Nothing here is too surprising; sardines, tuna, mackerel, onion, salmon and red herring if you know anything about Russian cuisine. There is the teeny-tiny little fact though that this pizza is served cold. WHY though?! 😫
I mean c’mon .. Europe is the birthplace of pizza. Somehow the further you get outside of Italy though…… Btw, we’ll devote a whole post one of these days to Italian pizza, so it gets no mention here other than to say that (according to some) they apparently really like celery & cucumbers on their pizza?? Huh, who knew?
But the British Isles, not necessarily known for their culinary scene historically (all those ‘An Italian, a Frenchman & a Brit walk into a bar’ jokes are out there for a reason), manage to pull together the ‘Full English Breakfast’ pizza, which we’re still not sure whether they eat at breakfast or not. But it seems appropriately named as it has bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, & sausages & sometimes black pudding or baked beans. Baked beans? Seriously?! Then again, we’ll take baked beans ANY day of the week over the haggis pizza coming out of, where else but Scotland! This beaut’ features ground sheep heart, liver & lungs.
Heading toward the sunny, tropical shores of Sweden…. Wait, WHAT?! There’s a pizza-thing in Sweden so divisive it just may leave the pineapple debate in the dust. It involves banana curry with peanuts, chkn, ham or shrimp & sometimes pineapple. Uhhh, too many long dark winters Sweden?? Actually pizza culture is SO much a thing in Sweden that we’ll probably devote a whole post to that one of these days too.
There are other European delights such as the German penchant for canned tuna & veggies on pizza (no thanks) & the quintessentially Finnish smoked reindeer pizza named ‘The Berlusconi’ due to his mockery of the culinary options on his state visit to Finland.
But let’s move on toward the Americas now, ending our world tour in the US where, we’re pretty sure a primary goal of cuisine is often just ‘MORE!’
So as much as we’d love to visit Brazil, we’re not sure pizza will necessarily be on the list of dishes to try with their peas, carrots, quail eggs, beets & raisins pizza considered to be quite a national favorite. We can get behind the idea of a Costa Rican favorite though that highlights its location near the tropics with its coconut &/or shrimp that they often add to other more traditionally recognized favorites like pepperoni.
While it’s true that pizza wasn’t really popular in The States till after the return of US GI’s following WWII, there’s no denying that we took a fantastic idea & ran with it. And ran & ran & ran…. In some instances it seems pizza has run off with abundant & sometimes strange list of toppings. Exhibit A: the cicada (yes the grasshopper-esque bug!) pizza that is mysteriously popular in Missouri. There are the BBQ pizzas, the chicken wing pizzas, the oyster & crayfish pizzas of the Atlantic seaboard. The hipster dandelion green, sprouts & artichoke heart pizzas of every farmer’s
market everywhere. There are doubledecker pizzas if you’re feeling particularly self-loathing or the lobster & edible gold pizzas if you’re fresh off a lottery-haul.
In some cases, we have to wonder if stuff thrown onto a flat disc of bread can automatically still qualify as ‘pizza’ but then again if one thing is consistent, it’s ‘change’…….
Where is Pizza Headed?
Way back at the start of our world tour we talked about the fact that worldwide, people are taking more stock of their health. And thankfully, with lowering poverty rates around the world, more people have the ability to make healthy choices. Surprisingly .. or not .. pizza doesn’t have to get left behind in that trend.
You may already feel this given how you like to top your Pizza Chef creations, but according to those that track these things there’s a definite trend toward more locally-sourced & healthy options in our food, specifically our pizza. Even restaurants are starting to stock fare from the local farmer’s markets, following what we’ve all been doing for several years now at home. Gluten-free options are on the upswing, both for the intolerance reason as well as the ‘it’s just healthier’ reason. Part of this trend also includes more interest in mini-pizzas (I guess we can thank the pizza bagels we all grew up on) as people focus on better portion control. Gen-Z which is starting to enter adulthood is very into the small, the artisanal, the traditional & they’re bringing that preference to their pizza choices. Have you tried some of the newly (in America at least) discovered flavors of North Africa/the Middle East & Southeast Asia that are popping up in pizza? Things like toum (garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, & salt) & za’atar (green herbs, sesame and olive oil), harissa (roasted red or serrano peppers, spices & herbs such as garlic paste, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin & olive oil), sweet/savory mashups & fermented foods.
I mean, don’t get me wrong…. This IS still America so there’s also the trend for themed pizzas: National Doughnut Day anyone?, fall themed, Mardi Gras themed, etc.
One of the coolest things about these latest trends? There’s no longer really a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it. Food in general, pizza specifically. The doors have been thrown so wide open to explore that I’m pretty sure they might’ve been ripped clear off the hinges! Your Pizza Chef can help you explore your pizza-fever-dreams whether they involve lots of artisanal mini-pizzas scattered across the tray, or a Chicago-style deep dish loaded with the works. Go to https://buypizzachef.com/shop/ to see which one will work best for you.
As always, we’d love to see & hear about your masterpieces as well as your trainwrecks! Happy exploring!