The Perfect Food

On last week's episode of THE BIGGEST LOSER (a reality show with a weight-loss theme), one of the contestants won a 24-hour trip home to see family and friends. While there, she and several friends went out to a pizza place...

...where she ordered a small pizza with JUST marinara sauce on it.

"Accckkk!!" I cried at the tv screen. "Secular blasphemy! Secular blasphemy!"

I'm sorry, but... that's not pizza! That's bread with tomato sauce.

Real pizza is the perfect food. You got your carbs, you got your veggies, you got your meat (optional), you got your dairy, and you got some fats and oils. All the major food groups in one place. Then you bake it all in a hot oven until you get that great caramelization and browning on the dough and cheese. O-o-o-h-h-h, yeah, baby.

What's not to love?

The problem with a good pizza, like potato chips, is that it's hard to stop at just one slice. That's where you get into the excess calories and fats.

Pizza without cheese is just not pizza. If the Biggest Loser contestant had had even a light sprinkle -- a few spoonfuls -- of Mozzarella or Parmesan on her "pizza", I wouldn't have reacted so strongly.

In fact, if it weren't for pizza... the future would never happen.

[warning: Trek-geekery ahead]

In the film Star Trek: First Contact, Earth's first contact by aliens occurs after Zephram Cochrane's flight in the Phoenix, and the first human use of warp drive technology. Supposedly, inventing a warp drive proves your planet is mature enough to be contacted by other races

Uh huh. Yeah, right.

Nope. Inventing a warp drive only gets you a first look. No sane alien race is going to invite you into their Federation just on that one data point. When the Vulcans landed and introduced themselves at the film's end. Of course they're going to take a good look around, and see what kind of history, psychology, track record these "humans" have before things go any further. For a first contact, they're only going to have a meet-and-greet over coffee. If things go well, maybe it'll move on to dinner, and a movie, at a later date

When those Vulcans landed, they discovered a world that had been decimated by war. And when they learned about human history, they would have learned that humans had been killing each other in wars all through their recorded history.

Not very encouraging. If not for a fortunate coincidence, the Vulcans would probably have left a fake phone number, got back on their ship, and flown away

The fortunate coincidence was that they landed in the midst of a party celebrating the warp drive's success. A party where there was music, beer, and...

...oh come on, what do you think would be served at a party like that?...


So the visiting Vulcans would certainly have asked about the strange food they were being offered. And they would have been told it was called "pizza".

And they would have been told that it started off with a base of bread dough. That could be done thin-crust, or thick-crust, or hand-tossed. That it could be white, or sourdough, or whole-wheat. It could even be a pre-cooked crust, like lavosh, or Boboli,

And then they'd have learned that the next step was a sauce, usually but not always tomato-based, seasoned with a wide, wide range of spices. Or you could make it with an Alfredo sauce, or pesto, or just olive oil and garlic.

And then the meats, if you wanted. Sausage, ham, bacon, beef, chicken, rattlesnake, anchovies, whatever you felt like.

And the extra veggies. Onions, olives, peppers, mushrooms, etc., etc., etcetera.

And the cheeses. Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, goat cheese, Feta, Gorgonzola, and even more etcetera.

All these choices. All these variations.

By which point, the Vulcans would have been standing there, jaws dropped and eyes wide. And they would have turned to one another, and said something like:

"These people... these humans... they have created something that is a physical manifestation of the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC: 'Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination'. Clearly, they are fit to join with other races."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the true story of how humans went into far space.

(You can trust me; I wouldn't make up something like that. If you don't believe me, do a search on "pizza ovens"; one of the major brands of pizza ovens is... yes, really... "Vulcan"!)

(Incidentally, after that first contact, the Vulcans of course took pizza back with them into space, and spread the concept to other planets. The results were not always pretty. The Klingons' own unfortunate variation on the pizza concept gave rise to the Klingon expression "Some days you eat the pizza, and some days the pizza eats you.")


talpianna said...

You forgot about the choicest of all--deep-dish Sicilian-style!

talpianna said...

I called this blog to the attention of our mutual friend, the archaeologist Catherine, who commented as follows:

About pizza - it is, of course, a brilliant peasant food, because it has, as Bruce points out, a remarkable balance, but they are all quite inexpensive ingredients, especially if one grows the herbs, tomatoes, onions etc oneself.