The Perfect Pizza

You want to get your mouth on The Perfect Pizza? You’re in the right place!

Chances are you’ve hunted for the recipe before, plugging unimpeachable terms like The Perfect Pizza into search engines that immediately deliver an aggregate of results so large it has two commas. Whoa, pizza and dopamine?

But you’re too smart, so you realize something is off. There should only be one result, or at best — a handful. It’s cool, today you’ve found The Perfect Pizza.

But first, stop and marvel and how impossible this outcome would have been even a quarter century ago. Perfection is an unattainable standard. It requires every desire, every single need to be fulfilled without flaws or defects.

To complicate matters further, a human is the judge and jury for what is and isn’t perfect. Objective and subjective perfection are required to converge.

And yet Google spits out half a billion results for The Perfect Pizza in under a second, a hunt you abruptly discover is as mysterious and challenging as locating air above ground. This is the only evidence you need that subjective perfection has overwhelmed objective flawlessness.

This may tell you The Perfect Pizza is everywhere, which means The Perfect Pizza is also nowhere. Don’t fall for this philosophical crap— The Perfect Pizza is right here! You’ve finally found it! That was too easy. Your search is over.

But 30 years ago you had to actually try. You had to put on clothes, leave your house and find a bookstore at the local mall. Then you had to locate the cookbook section and peruse its periodicals. Curry? Not today. Cookies? Maybe later. Pizza? There we go. An hour had passed since you left home.

Purveyors of The Perfect Pizza recipes force you to scroll through a mile of mundane, self-important pablum crap before you reach an ingredients list.

Eventually, you either bought the right cookbook, or retreated to Sbarro. Or you did both, you absolute savage. The Perfect Pizza would have to wait.

If a mall trip was beneath you, you might have called your Sicilian grandmother for tips. I’m so glad you called! The key to The Perfect Pizza is the sauce! You need very specific tomatoes! And also the crust! It is the water that goes into the dough— you must source it from a brook in either La Spezia or just south of Philly. Any other water compromises the dough!

Grandma wisdom was always worth the long distance charges, and definitely worth the time years later that it took to show her how to use her new smartphone efficiently. But was it really the sauce and the crust? Don’t you have to nail the cheese too? And is it buffalo or Bufala mozzerella? Does pronouncing it mozerell while making hand gestures make it gooier and more authentic?

How did capicola become gabagool? What temperature should the oven be, and what about wood-burning vs. coal fired vs. uhhhh whatever is in my kitchen? Is this worth all the trouble in a world where The Perfect Pizza delivers 517 million search results, most of which have to be simpler?

Alas, we lost the plot. We didn’t want good pizza. We have that. We want perfect pizza. Mi manchi, nonna. The Perfect Pizza is immortal. Grazie.

Now let’s assume you didn’t have an accessible Sicilian grandmother 30 years ago but did possess the advanced technical skill to email someone using your loud and hot desktop computer for guidance on securing The Perfect Pizza.

Perhaps you were an early AOL adopter and could locate the sacred recipe in a chat room from some creepy 44-year old man posing as a pizza-knowledgable Sicilian grandmother. Early Internet might have been scarier than current Internet, but ignorance is a warm blanket. That guy was someone’s grandma.

We didn’t know! All we knew was The Perfect Pizza had to exist, somewhere.

Thirty years and .88 seconds on the Google machine later, you’ve got half a billion options to seek perfection from your phone. But there’s a problem with modern recipes, and as we mentioned previously — Perfection requires the absence of all flaws. Big problem! Flaws are e v e r y w h e r e.

The purveyors of The Perfect Pizza on the Internet feel obligated to preface their culinary sorcery with mundane storytelling. They make you scroll through a mile of pablum crap to reach the recipe. A mile! Finger cramps!

Choose any link to The Perfect Pizza, foolishly believing you’re concluding your journey to Cittadino Gusto — that’s roughly Flavortown in Italian — with the Rosetta Stone for doughy bliss, only to find yourself drowning in some inane, self-important tale of banality rife with pop-up ads as life preservers.

Hey this isn’t perfect! This sucks! Where’s my recipe? Why are you forcing me to read this lame story? Why won’t these floating ads close? WHY.

You just wanted 1) ingredients, and 2) directions. That’s it. You don’t want a story. GIVE ME THE RECIPE. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR TRIP TO ITALY.

Americans love their European travel stories, don’t they? A classic coping device for the uncultured to feel sophisticated and less ordinary in a land dotted by sterile, corporatized storefront assets. The authenticity required for The Perfect Pizza will never be found in Schaumburg, IL.

That’s why you go to ̶N̶a̶p̶l̶e̶s̶ Napoli, ̶b̶a̶b̶y̶ bambina! No one has time to read some dumb first-person narrative from a frog who ventured outside of its own well exactly once in its life — and then arrogantly believed it was now worldly.

I’ve been to Europe more than a few times, which means there’s nothing amphibious about me. I remember one such trip when I woke up on a cold and sunny December morning in 2018 at Podere Panico in Tuscany, with a dull headache caused by copious amounts of Sangiovese the night prior.

The morning air was thick with vineyard essence and unrefrigerated tiramisu that I might have inadvertently used as toothpaste hours earlier. A bird chirped in a cadence that led me to believe it was singing in an Italian warbler dialect.

Somehow, that made it more romantic and less intrusive to my slumber. This bird would not rudely seize worms from the earth, it would merely woo them into its beak and belly. It was perched on a wooden plank directly beneath my window, greeting all of Italia and the Mediterranean with its song. Plank Sinatra. He did it his way.

I swung open the wooden shutters of my bedchamber to view the fields beneath me and remembered this particular chateau was equipped not only with its own hand-built pizza oven, but an entire pizza room. It had a table specifically for kneading dough, chopping ingredients and topping pies.

Oh, if only that table could speak! The tales and pizzas it must have seen.

Wire hooks affixed to the ceiling in this room displayed several different-sized leafs for inserting and removing The Perfect Pizza in the ovens. If pizza was a religion, this was the Sepulchre. I stared out onto the expanse, weeping at the thought of past and future pizzas beneath me and the Tuscan vista before me and shouted biongiorno! Biongiorno! Biongiorno!

Ah yes, Italian. Yes, I can speak it, a little. I was just saying hi. Ribbit.

But enough of my obvious worldliness, let’s get to the reason you’re here. Friends, if you actually read your way to this point, you already know the recipe for The Perfect Pizza. And that is accepting it’s always just out of reach.

Perfection is an unattainable standard. It requires every desire, every single need to be fulfilled without flaws or defects.

The Perfect Pizza is always in your head but never in your mouth. The best one you’ve ever had in your life either left you wanting more or you had too much of it, flaws that disqualify it from perfection.

Pizza was never intended to be perfect. It’s meant to be ubiquitous and obscure, convenient and painstaking, joyful and disappointing.

That’s why we pick dumb regional fights over pizza, despite it being almost universally adored and appreciated. We’re fiercely provincial with it, yet we still travel to find new and superior ones. We seek better pizza, cheaper pizza, different pizza, lighter pizza and fancier pizza, all while unconditionally loving pizza.

But perfect pizza? It’s the only one that is not on the menu— no matter what the recipe, restaurant or search says. Order a pie right now from the pizzeria of your choosing. Select your style, pick your toppings, complete the transaction.

That pizza you ordered will be perfect from the second you placed the order up until the moment it hits your lips and abruptly informs you that it’s merely great. It could have been better or worse. Perfect was not among the outcomes.

Subjective perfection and objective flawlessness never meet. Not only that, they don’t know each other. They don’t even go here. Pizza is simultaneously flawless and imperfect, just like you. Just like me.

Consider The Perfect Cheeseburger, which barely has 1/10th the search results. That’s a rounding error for pizza — and that burger doesn’t exist either. The Perfect Pizza was meant to be hunted, not found. It’s theoretical. Probably. There are chateaus in Tuscany I haven’t slept in yet, so I’m not sure.

Enjoy your hunt. Savor the journey. Don’t allow it to end. Eat the pizza.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ramzy Nasrallah

Ramzy Nasrallah

Ghosts appear and fade away. Sports & whiskey opinions at elevenwarriors.com.