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The Structure and Function of Pizza

July 28, 2017

This may seem hard to believe, but I really do have good qualities. You know, as a human being and all. It’s true. But letting go of things has never been one of my strong suits.

I think if I were doing a SWOT analysis, “letting go of things” might appear in three of the four quadrants. Well, I guess the threat-quadrant would contain, “failure to let go of things.” But you get the idea. Certain thoughts just get stuck in my head, so I apologize in advance for another rant on pizza.

If you recall, just a couple of days ago, I thought about scuttling Dan Gentile’s Thrillist post on why one shouldn’t fold pizza, point by point. But instead, I laid out my own manifesto on when it’s appropriate to fold a slice of New York style pizza.

Life is all about nuance.

But still, there were points in Mr. Gentile’s post that went unaddressed. One paragraph especially really got under my skin. So, even though I’ve been advised to let this drop, you’re going to hear one last final screed on pizza this week. Hope you’re sitting down, because here’s what Thrillist published.

“If pizza were a mathematical proof, the given would be that it is flat. This is undeniable. Crease it and it might as well be an Italian taco. Fold it and you’ve got a Caprese sandwich. Solder a little extra dough along the edges and you have a calzone. Pizza by any other name simply does not taste as sweet.”

I reject this on its face. Fundamentally, pizza is not flat. It’s multidimensional. From the lift of the end crust, to the spontaneous bubble, to the varying texture of the toppings, pizza is anything but flat.

But semantics aside, making something into the shape of a taco does not make it a taco. You can call an ice cream sandwich a taco, because it has the cone part folded into a U-shape around a slice of ice cream. But that’s never going to be confused for an actual taco

You’ll forgive me if I don’t want today’s post to get mired in what does or does not make a sandwich. This is a huge hot button issue. But what I can tell you is that pizza is about as far away from a Caprese sandwich as you can get. One is made from raw tomatoes, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, and sea salt. The other is cooked tomato sauce topped with whole milk shredded mozzarella, without any of the frou frou touches.

But the most appalling notion from the paragraph in Thrillist is that if you sealed off a folded up slice of pizza it would be a calzone.

No. A stromboli, maybe. Even that would be a stretch. But a calzone is something wonderful and completely different than a folded up pizza. The calzone is luxurious and decadent expression of ricotta cheese, baked in a pizza dough pocket.

Sure, you might choose to have a little tomato sauce on the side. And it’s possible that a bit of mozzarella is added into the cheese blend. But anyone who knows anything about pizza and calzones would never conflate the two.

Technically, could you fill a calzone withd tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese? I suppose. But it would be the worst calzone ever, and an insult to calzones everywhere.

Calzones were some of my favorite treats when growing up as a small kid in New York City. Sometimes my mother and I would even get them with slices of ham added into the mix. But for the most part, we would split just a simple cheese calzone.

Even today, these remain a comfort food for me, but it’s a rare treat for me to indulge in so much creamy cheese in one sitting. That means I haven’t eaten calzones widely around the Capital Region. Right now, I’m holding off on doing any significant eating beyond the events I’ve got lined up in the near future. But should I hit my weight loss goals, I’m wondering if anyone out there vouches for a particular calzone maker in the Capital Region.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2017 10:00 am

    I agree that calzones, stromboli and folded pizza are very different beasts. However when one screws up launching a pizza and it flips over onto itself, the resulting mess is often called an unintentional calzone. The expression goes, “There are two types of pizza makers. Those who have made an unintentional calzone and those who will make an unintentional calzone.”

  2. tom permalink
    July 28, 2017 10:35 am

    The best calzone is at Manor House in East Greenbush. pay no attention to the decor or location. might not be a traditional NYC version but it is mighty good

    • Brooke permalink
      July 29, 2017 12:21 am

      I totally agree! I actually just posted a VERY long comment on Daniels FB post about their calzones!

  3. OCtG permalink
    July 28, 2017 7:08 pm

    That Thrillist post is pure crap, I blame you for making me read it.
    Im not a huge fan of the calzone, intentional or not, but maybe i just haven’t given them enough of a chance. Whenever I find myself faced with a good calzone there’s always a good pizza on hand as well. Of course, Pizza always wins.
    PizzaTown USA is the perfect example..great calzones but I always fill up on the pizza, making it hard to truly enjoy that cheesy, crunchy pillow of a calzone.
    Gotta go make some dough, maybe it will become tomorrow’s calzone.

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