The relentless narcissism of New York City recently made it place a free-standing structure on top of its shiny new, skyline-defining skyscraper in order to win the country’s tallest building crown on a ridiculous technicality. After the announcement, some commentators said it didn’t matter, and that we all knew which city had the better pizza. Okay, buildings are one thing; pizza is the thing here that really matters. And indeed, we do know which city has the better pizza, but there are some folks who simply don’t want to accept it. Like, just to pick a random example, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.
After the announcement and an offhand comment about Chicago-style pizza being better, Stewart went off on one of his most spectacular rants, decrying the famous deep dish. In response, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel was characteristically weak. In a move that wasn’t met with quite as much publicity, he sent a couple of deep dish pizzas to The Daily Show studios in New York City. There was a note too, something along the lines of “dead fish.” I guess that would indicate the pizzas were filled with anchovies. Whatever point Mayor Emmanuel was trying to prove is lost on me. What’s worse is that the interpretation of the gesture is so open to interpretation that some onlookers took it as Chicago’s concession. The Daily Show responded to that with some grainy footage of a dog taking a quick whiff of the deep dish and running off in horror. Rahm, uh, what the hell were you trying to do anyway? Yeah, you need to leave this to the pros. Like me.
There’s no doubt to me about which pizza is better, and there shouldn’t be to you, either. Given the option, what will you take – a pizza or a thin piece of paper that has to be crammed into your mouth whole in order for it to be bite-sized? Yeah, that’s what I thought. If you want to eat a thin crust pizza, make sure you don’t overdo the beer because when you get too drunk and pass out onto the pizza, that crust isn’t anywhere close to thick enough to cushion the blow. You’ll slam your head against the surface of the table too hard and kill yourself.
Let’s cut to the heart of what New York-style pizza is: It’s sopped paper with red paint and melted wax on top. What’s more, it’s limp. How does one eat a piece of pizza when it keeps literally falling flat when you’re trying to take a bit out of it? New York-style pizza is a kind of pizza that literally can’t stand on its own.
Yeah, deep dish pizza is thick enough to crawl into and sleep inside to keep warm. Somehow, this is treated like some kind of big problem. I tried to crawl under a New York-style pizza to keep warm once and I ended up getting hypothermia.
Sauce on top, toppings and cheese cooked into the bottom crust. You know what this is? This is the perfect redefinition of a pizza. Any idiot can put the ingredients on the top of the pizza in a flash, ramp up the oven, and burn the thing, but it takes a real master to place everything in a position where it’s poised to fall out of the pizza upon slicing it open and it doesn’t. The thickness is beautiful in the incredible explosion of taste you get when you stuff a piece into your mouth and bite down and realize deep dish pizza isn’t exactly hurting for toppings.
At some point, someone will try to make the portability argument, but since when the hell is pizza supposed to be a portable food? Am I planning on gorging myself on the L? What’s disgusting is trying to imagine a proponent of New York-style pizza on the subway, standing with his hand raised a foot over his mouth because New York-style pizza is lim as hell, gently trying to lower the tip to get a bite which will probably taste like the surrounding air because New York-style pizza is so thin that all the surrounding smells and tastes can be absorbed into it in rapid order, like with baking soda, and it will quickly overcome the actual (nonexistent) taste of the pizza itself. This is something New Yorkers conveniently forget: Their pizza quickly absorbs every smell from the wood grain to the stale metals, but they taste it and call it pizza. There’s no talking them out of it, since they believe America west of the Hudson River is a myth, and have therefore never left New York City to try eating a real pizza in their lives.
Yeah, there’s no doubt that one of those cities’ pizza is better than the other. Chicago is the clear choice. You try going with New York City “pizza,” just save yourself a lot of trouble, pick up the entire pizza tray, and start licking it, because that’s the only way you’ll ever be able to taste it.