Pizza Today - July 2017 - 18

with SCOTT WIENER

man on the street

"Culture Vultures"

I

know I'm supposed to write about
pizza, but I can't stop thinking
about burritos. As I write this, the
food world is in an uproar over a controversial pop-up eatery in Portland,
Oregon. A pair of friends discovered
incredible handmade tortillas while
on vacation in Mexico and decided to
launch a business back home
using techniques they picked up.
Local Portland press initially treated
the restaurant favorably but some
quotes from the two proprietors about
picking the brains of the tortilla makers and studying their methods by
peaking through kitchen windows led
to harsh accusations of recipe theft
and cultural appropriation. As much
as I love a good burrito, this story
makes me feel so relieved to live in a
pizza bubble.
It's hard to think of a food that has
enjoyed the benefits of trans-cultural
influence more than pizza. In a sense,
this simple food was a foot in the door
of acceptance for immigrants fresh

1 8 / P I Z Z AT O D AY. C O M / J U LY 2 0 1 7

off the boat in the early 20th century.
It may have taken a few decades, but
eventually this simple dish helped
non-Italians take notice of a population that once seemed as foreign and
frightening as the unfamiliar aroma of
their food. Some of the biggest pizza
companies in the country were started
by people with Irish and German
heritage, who invoked mustachioed
men with strong accents to sell themselves as authentic. In hindsight, we
now see those ads as over the top and
offensive. But those images were helpful in creating a degree of familiarity
that set the stage for the widespread
cultural acceptance we now enjoy.
Those stereotypical images have all
but disappeared as they're being
replaced by the less definable image of
the modern pizzaiolo.
As with any popular food, pizza has
remained relevant because it absorbs
influence from every culture with
which it comes in contact. When a
pizzeria in Sweden serves a pie with

tuna, banana and curry, it is intended
as an adaptation to local tastes rather
than a proposed improvement on the
Neapolitan original. In fact, pizza
as we know it began as a culinary
mash-up of bread from the Greeks,
tomatoes from the New World, herbs
from India and cheese from the Asian
water buffalo. If cuisines were never
allowed to mix across cultures, the
world would be far less flavorful. If
Keith Richards never heard the blues,
the Rolling Stones wouldn't exist.
It's easy to understand how inspiration and theft can appear identical
from a distance, but they are vastly
different beasts. Thankfully, the pizza
world has transitioned from "I could
tell you, but I'd have to kill you" to
"Please watch my YouTube video
about making mozzarella." The best
pizzamakers I know are the ones writing books, teaching classes and helping others improve their own methods. Some of the worst pizza makers
are the ones nervously guarding their
secret recipes.
And even if someone covertly
studies another chef 's techniques, it's
highly unlikely they'll end up with the
same results. Pizza dough and tortillas
both require some serious manual
interaction that can't be absorbed with
the eyes. Just because I've watched
Dom Demarco make pizza dozens of
times at Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, I
doubt I'd be able to make an identical
pie. Food that's manipulated by hand
is more than a jigsaw puzzle with one
correct solution; it's a pile of blocks
with no instruction manual. ■
SCOTT WIENER is the founder of Scott's
Pizza Tours in New York City and
SliceOutHunger.org.

By JOSH KEOWN


http://www.SliceOutHunger.org http://www.PIZZATODAY.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - July 2017

Pizza Today - July 2017
Commentary
Contents
Contributors
Expo Spotlight
Interact
Conversation
Man on the Street
Respecting the Craft
On Tap
Destinations
Knead to Know
Guest Safety
Summer Veggies
Picking the Right Oven
DIY Video
Road to Pizza & Pasta Northeast
Pizza Today on the Road: Paulie Gee’s, Brooklyn, NY
Product Showcase
Pizza Today on the Road: Williamsburg Pizza, Brooklyn, NY
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Reader’s Resource
Trending Recipe
Pizza Today - July 2017 - CT1
Pizza Today - July 2017 - CT2
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Pizza Today - July 2017
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Cover2
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Commentary
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 4
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 5
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Contents
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 7
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 8
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 9
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Contributors
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 11
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 13
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Interact
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 15
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Conversation
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 17
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 19
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Respecting the Craft
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 21
Pizza Today - July 2017 - On Tap
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 23
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Destinations
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 25
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Knead to Know
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 27
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 28
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 29
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Guest Safety
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 31
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 32
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 33
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Summer Veggies
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 35
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 36
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 37
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Picking the Right Oven
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 39
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 40
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 41
Pizza Today - July 2017 - DIY Video
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 43
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 44
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 45
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Road to Pizza & Pasta Northeast
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 47
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 48
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 49
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Pizza Today on the Road: Paulie Gee’s, Brooklyn, NY
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 51
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 52
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 53
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 54
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 55
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 56
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 57
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 58
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Product Showcase
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Pizza Today on the Road: Williamsburg Pizza, Brooklyn, NY
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 61
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 63
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 64
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 65
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 66
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 67
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 68
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 69
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 70
Pizza Today - July 2017 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 72
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 73
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 74
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 75
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 76
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 77
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 78
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 79
Pizza Today - July 2017 - 80
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Reader’s Resource
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Trending Recipe
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Cover3
Pizza Today - July 2017 - Cover4
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