Let’s get this out in the open right off the bat – I like Hawaiian pizza. If you can’t handle that, please don’t read any further. I recommend you take your inhaler and go hyperventilate elsewhere. If you have had any kind of online presence and are interested in food, you’ve probably noticed that the debate on pineapple and pizza has raged a little more intensely for the last couple of years. I’ve decided to weigh in on this debate – so we can finally have an influencer of my stature (please read that as sarcastically as possible) put the whole thing to bed.
Pineapple on Pizza: ‘Yay’ or ‘Nay’
Pineapple belongs on pizza. As a matter of fact, so does banana. So does spinach, or baked beans, or ground beef, or corn. Everything belongs on pizza. The pineapple on pizza debate isn’t actually about whether pineapple should be on pizza – this debate is about food pretentiousness.
The pineapple/pizza argument is simply a microcosm of the affectation that foodies put on, lording their intense and detailed knowledge about cuisine and ‘the gastronomic arts’ over the rest of us plebeians who use food as a simple means of fuelling our bodies. Food pretentiousness comes in all kinds of forms, but a simple look into any claim will disprove any ‘right way’ of doing something.
Talkin’ Italian Food
Let’s take the example of Italian food since we’re already talking about pizza. Pretentious foodies the world over will discuss the truly traditional and Italian way to eat pizza – a dough base with a tomato-based sauce and a few slices of fresh mozzarella topping it. However, this is a misconception. Italy, like most countries, is rife with regional differences and in-fighting. The method above is the traditional Napolitano way (from Naples) to make pizza. However, if you go just a few miles north to Rome, the tradition is wildly different – a thick dough made in a square pan and sold by the slice. What happened to the traditional, authentic way to eat pizza?
Most culinary traditions stem from necessity. People in Naples made pizza this way because they had no other way to make it. You can see a similar pretention with ‘traditional’ pasta meals in Italy. Southern Italy has a tradition of pasta with just a hint of sauce, often using simple ingredients like garlic, olive oil, and balsamic to garnish a large dish of pasta. Many foodies would look at this tradition and insist that this simply has to be done this way because “that’s how it was meant to be eaten!”
In reality, peasants from the southern regions of Italy have been historically poorer than their northern-region compatriots whose cuisine consisted of more meat, lard, and milk than theirs. The poor of southern Italy ate large volumes of pasta with little sauce because there was no abundance of ingredients for the sauce – in short, the tradition stemmed from necessity. And, as always happens, the upper classes soon took a liking to the rustic traditions of the lower classes and made pasta with little sauce into something ‘authentic’ and ‘traditional’. In reality, if the peasants had more access to different foods, Italian cuisine today might look a lot different.
The Final Verdict
To cut a long story short, food is about experimentation: it’s about using what you have to change the flavour, add a different texture, or diversify your nutrients. Pineapple is just a different flavour and a more modern way of altering an ancient dish. We should be championing pineapple on pizza simply because it is combining two things that some people may never have considered.
Plus, given the history of the pineapple, I am quite certain that people back in Naples in the middle ages would have been wildly excited to add some to their traditional pizzas.
If you have any ‘weird’ pizza topping preferences, let me know!