We All Have a Pizza Story—What’s Yours?
Remembering the good, the bad, but mostly the non-traditional
This article is part of our monthly issue “#ThrowbackNovember,” in which we’ll explore various aspects of childhood memory through the lens of food. We’ll share fun recipes that riff on those memories and a slew of fantastic videos featuring our team in hopes that you’ll watch, share, and comment on with your own nostalgia-filled takes. Check out this link to find an overview of all our weekly topics, stories, recipes, and more.
A delicious ‘pizza’ comes in many forms: from paper-thin tarte flambée to the thick-crusted towers of deep dish pies, za’atar-flecked manakish, and of course, the namesake, gooey mozzarella-laden pizzas of Naples, the simple truth is that the world loves topping yeasted dough with cheese, oils, vegetables, meat, and herbs.
As a kid, there was nothing that excited me more than the promise of pizza. When I think about the pizzas sprinkled all through my childhood—at birthday parties, school lunches, after ballet classes, even a miniature, personal pizza from Pizza Hut was in reach whenever I behaved while my mom grocery shopped—I can’t say they were the best I’ve had, but there’s certainly something sweet and comfy in the nostalgia for pizzas of our childhood.
It’s no surprise then, that when we asked our international team here at Kitchen Stories about the foods we loved and reviled as kids, pizza reigned supreme. It seems, no matter where in the world you live, or whether the pizza comes in the form of perfectly cut squares thrown onto plastic cafeteria lunch trays or DIY à la Lunchables, pizza is something we all share fond memories of.
Ruby, Senior Food Editor
« I’d still never say no to a piece of old-school, bastardized Australian pizza—Proust had his memory-soaked madeleines, and I have this. »
Pizza as I knew it, as a small child in Australia, came exclusively from the local delivery shop down the road—like commercial Coca Cola, and white sandwich bread, I was not allowed Pizza Hut. The bases were thick and spongy and the toppings completely copious: the ham soft, like shredded Spam, and huge coverings of, say, onions or green peppers (what we call capsicums where I’m from), and cheese like molten lava that would all threaten a landslide on the journey to you. Alongside your traditional Margheritas and Capricciosas, the menu boasted creations like the “Aussie” pizza, complete with an egg and bacon on top to a heart-stopping “Meat Lovers” pizza; I’d later unceremoniously break my short-lived teenage vegetarianism on this number. Sure, “proper”’ Neapolitan-style pizza in a neighboring suburb was a cultural milestone for my precocious 16-year-old self, and yes, it’ll never be the crispy, rosemary and potato pizza al taglio that I gained my Italy weight on, but I’d still never say no to a piece of old-school, bastardized Australian pizza—Proust had his memory-soaked madeleines, and I have this.
Xueci, Associate Food Editor
I was introduced to Pizza Hut at the age of 12 or 13, when the chain opened a restaurant in the city I went to school in. Back then it was very popular: The decor was somehow fancier than a fast food diner and sometimes we had to wait an hour to get in. Two things I found particularly exciting were the thick Hawaiian pizza and the "help yourself" salad bowl—you could fill it to your heart’s content, but only once, so people would really dedicate themselves to packing in as much as they could and return with a tower of salad. Needless to say, after a few years, Pizza Hut canceled this beautiful buffet salad.
Prerana, Editorial Assistant
My favorite childhood pizza memory is of “roti pizza”. Fast food chains and processed cheese only arrived in India in the late 90s, so naturally, when I tried my first pizza at Pizza Hut, I was in love. Like almost every other kid, I was not a fan of food that was green or had sprouts. I'd ask my mom for pizza everyday and that’s when one of her friends suggested “roti pizza”. She’d crisp up a whole-wheat roti on a pan, top it with store-bought pizza sauce and sabzi (vegetables cooked with onion, tomatoes, and spices) of the day, and lots of cheese. This “pizza” was ready in five minutes and vanished from my plate within seconds. Living in Europe gives me access to all the delicious, authentic pizza I can eat, but do I secretly wish for one topped with palak paneer? Every single time.
Johanna, Test Kitchen Manager & Chef
We used to make giant sheet pan pizzas for birthday parties. Each kid was given their very own square piece, we'd decorate it with our favorite topping in any way we liked, then we’d write our names on parchment paper, attach it to a toothpick and stick it into our allotted slice so we could tell them apart after baking. I used to—and still do—only eat the middle portion of the pizza.
Feeling pizza-ish? Here are some recipe ideas
Prosciutto and radicchio flatbread
Breakfast pizza with mushrooms, spinach, and egg
Sausage, potato, and rosemary focaccia
Schiacciata di zucchine (Italian zucchini flatbread with rosemary)
Skillet pizza with onions and fennel
Reverse puff pastry veggie pizza
Make grandma-style pizza with Ruby
Skillet pepperoni pizza
How do you remember the pizzas from your childhood? Let us know in the comments or upload your very own pizza recipe to our app to share it with the community!
Published on November 6, 2020