Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Weird Pizzas of the World

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment
Pizza Box

Don't open the box

For many travelers, discovering and sampling authentic local cuisine is one of the most appealing aspects of visiting a foreign country.

While I believe this opinion has merit, I’m also aware that, occasionally, factors such as language, budget, jet lag, intoxication and/or threat of death from salmonella poisioning can conspire to make ordering a pizza seem like a much better option.

This may not seem particularly adventurous or culturally diverse, but experience has taught me that pizza is not quite the generic, globalised fast food one might think; far from it in fact. Over the past few years, I have discovered that the simple act of stepping across an international border can cause the definition of the word “pizza” to mutate in a rather frightening manner.

Listed below are the recipients of my special gold, silver and bronze awards for pizza experiences that, in my opinion, fell well outside the established boundaries of normality. Please note that all pizza names in this story have been changed to protect the guilty.


Bronze Award – CANADA

The Gargantua

While I understand there is no internationally recognized standard for pizza sizes, I firmly believe that once the diameter exceeds that of a car tyre, it can no longer be classified as ”small”. It seems however, that Canadians do not share this opinion.

Without doubt, the most ridiculously oversized pizza I have ever seen – actually, make that the most ridiculously oversized meal I have ever seen – is an allegedly “small” Hawaiian pizza I was served one night in Niagara Falls.

Now, considering I had just spent two weeks in the USA – a land where the concept of  “eating in moderation” is not exactly widley practised – this was certainly not the first time I had received a dish capable of rupturing my colon if consumed in one sitting. Even with such recent first-hand experience in North American excess however, I couldn’t help but think that the behemoth in front of me bore more resemblance to an Aztec sundial than a pizza.

So large was this creation in fact, that my first reaction was to glance around the restaurant in order to locate the party of  four or six that I assumed must be waiting for it. When I politely informed the waitress that there must have been some kind of mistake, she simply smiled and motioned to two enormous aluminium trays on the wall – one labelled “small”, the other “large”. To my utter astonishment, the massive circle of dough sitting in front of me was indeed what passed for a small pizza in this part of the world.

Even more astonishing though, was the absurd size of their conservatively labelled “large” tray, which was so obscenely oversized it looked as if the mothership from Independence Day had drifted in to the restaurant and attached itself to the wall.

And people wonder why western society has problems with obesity.


Silver Award – ITALY

Pizzeria Snoozarama

Experience has taught me that Italian restaurants can be very precious about what they consider suitable ingredients for their famous dish.

American-style toppings such as pepperoni and chicken are heavily frowned upon in most upmarket eateries, while radical modern additions such as prawns are encountered so rarely you’d be forgiven for thinking they were illegal. The most reviled concept, however, is undoubtedly pizza with pineapple, even the mention of which seems to be a heinous affront to God requiring absolution from the Vatican.

While this attitude might come across as being a tad militant, I guess you have to at least respect the attempt to resist the Americanisation of such an iconic part of Italian culture. One ultra-conservative restaurant in Venice has gone perhaps a little too far down this road however, taking their “rules” to positively Soup-Nazi levels by offering a pizza menu with nothing – and I mean nothing – but variations of cheese, tomato and herb.

Cheese, Tomato, Basil; Cheese tomato, garlic; Cheese tomato oregano…the list goes on.

Not surprisingly, this fanatical conservatism has resulted in a dining experience that is – to put it politely – rather lacking in excitement. In fact, I would have to say that this is the only place I’ve ever dined where a little influence from the American fast food industry would actually make the food more interesting.

On the up side, it did make selecting from the menu fairly straight-forward.


Gold Award – FRANCE


While I have no objection to most non-traditional pizza toppings (Australia’s national pizza is, after all, bacon and egg), there are certain boundaries I feel it’s inappropriate to overstep. The following is a list of items – I hesitate to call them ingredients – that should never be allowed on a pizza.

– Heads

– Tails

– Bones

– Sea shells

– Entire animal carcasses

Quite clearly the people of France do not share my reservations however, as the seafood pizza “with the lot” I was served at a popular Paris restaurant was piled high with absolutely everything on the list above.

Just some of the unconventional toppings I found on this monstrosity were: entire, unpeeled king prawns; shellfish in shells (at least four different types that I could identify); large, un-filleted pieces of fish; and several heavily-tentacled carcasses that looked like the Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean had beached itself on my plate. I was afraid to poke around too much in case I found a dolphin in there.

The worst part of the experience though, was not the excessive nature or volume of the ingedients, but the utter impossibility of politely consuming a three-inch, cheese-drenched slab of them while in a fashionable Parisian restaurant with female company.

Ultimately, I had to concede that this was never going to happen and just dug in with my hands…not exactly what I had in mind when I set out for an evening of fine french dining.


Anyway, I think the moral of these stories is fairly obvious; if you ever find yourself thinking that resorting to fast food while overseas is boring and unadventurous, simply order a pizza