One of the happiest moments during a busy day at work can often be finding out there’s a pizza party coming at lunchtime. Though this is usually because it’s the simplest thing to order for a large group, it’s equally one of the coolest, so one never minds. As a kid pepperoni was my definite favorite, but as an adult I prefer plain cheese pizza or that with a few vegetables added. Depending on where you get it, pepperoni is a grease festival of the wildest proportions. I couldn’t bear to paint all of the grease that would actually be present on this one, so just imagine someone has already sopped some of it up with a paper towel. That said, I was still one of those Americans visiting Italy when I was young wondering were all the pepperoni pizza was. It wasn’t there at all. Pepperoni is the Italian word for large peppers and no salami in that part of the world actually exists by this name. I was to discover it’s an entirely American invention. Italy has instead a pizza alla diavola, which literally translates to “pizza in the devil’s style” because of its spiciness. It was delicious and I ended up ordering it every time pizza was on the menu there.
I haven’t been back to Italy in years. I’ve only been twice, but I enjoyed it both times. My favorite place was Florence, possibly because I’m a Leonardo Da Vinci fan, but mostly because it’s just a really cool city. It’s amazing to be in a place where so many wonderful artistic minds came together so many years ago. And those influences are still being felt today. On my first trip I picked up a book on Da Vinci, that I read on the trains that brought me through other parts of Europe. I’ve never been able to find it again, but later found another book by Serge Bramly that I really enjoyed. I still have the other book in a box somewhere. It was translated from Italian, and sometimes the translation left a bit to be desired, but it was fascinating. Actually, I have several books about Da Vinci, some rather ancient as I became a bit of a collector for a very brief period of time. By collector, I mean, I just thought they were intriguing and cool and got a great price on eBay. I’ve no idea if they’re worth anything to anyone else, but they still mean the world to me.
As for pizza, many Italians still contend the only real kind is the simpler marinara and margherita varieties. But when you’re in America, it’s more of a contest to see what sort of crazy combinations one can make on top. Actually, much of American cuisine feels like a bit of a contest, and in many ways, that’s what makes it so interesting. We didn’t steal recipes and try to plus up as much as we tried to one up. The result can be a perfectly insane combo of flavors that can leave the rest of the world cringing. But, even if I can’t even bear to try the mixtures of all of the flavors that appear, I have to admire them for their sheer audacity. We’re an incredibly young country that is still trying to figure out everything as it goes along. That youthful exuberance can often make the oddest things happen, but it’s an American signature to be sure. Perhaps it’s our own version of a Renaissance, or we’re just that kid who never really wanted to grow up. Either way, I have to admit I only smile when I hear that sometime around noon, it’s going to be time for a pizza party!
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.