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!

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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.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 30 - Pizza Party Pepperoni - Doodlewash

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33 thoughts on “Pizza Party

  1. During my ‘If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium’ tour of Europe, I ordered a pizza in Italy. My friend and I thought it would be safest to just get a cheese pizza, but evidently cheese must sound like mackerel in Italian. The pizza arrived with a whole mackerel on it – head, eyes, scales fins, tail and a whole pool of fishy grease. I really tried not to be the ugly American during that trip, but couldn’t eat the whole thing and slunk out leaving it half-eaten (we paid in advance). There was a group of Japanese sitting near by, and they did a collective ‘AAAAAHHHH’ with huge, unbelieving eyes. I’ve never felt so ashamed and pizza has just not been the same for me ever since. Love your painting, though!

  2. From pizza to da Vinci! Your posts are always such a treat, Charlie. Walter Isaacson just published a gorgeous biography of da Vinci you might want to look at. Love the pizza painting and I appreciate you omitting the extra pepperoni grease. ( :

  3. MMMMM. Pizza! My mouth is watering AGAIN! Charlie, so many of your posts & paintings make me very hungry. I doubt that our local TO’s Pizza here in Virginia, IL is authentic-tasting pizza but we sure love the flavor AND the crust!

  4. Someplace in the world, it’s pizza time. When our sons were young, I’d call our favorite pizza shop and they’d answer with, “Do you want your usual?” My parenting skills weren’t terrible, but my cooking was, and after working a long day, standing over the stove was not desirable. Pizza was. The boys are grown with their own families. We still love pizza and try to stay away from the pepperoni, but it is frankly one tasty food. Your painting is making me hungry, Charlie.

  5. I was in Rome with my high school Latin class eons ago, and ordered a pizza, and found it to be entirely different from the pizza I was used to eating. But wine was cheaper than pop, and readily available, too! So that was fun. Nowadays I usually only eat the pizza I make myself with an almond flour crust. No pepperoni, but carmelized onions and some nice cheese and black olives. Yum!

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