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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Pizza Files

The Ridiculous Manifesto: Or, the death of pizza writing because who seriously cares this much?

Let us make an assumption: pizza sometimes tastes good. Let's make another assumption: the pizza at Don Antonio, a new Naples-style pizzeria in Hell's Kitchen generally tastes good, in my opinion, based on the two times I've been there. 

I would be happy to describe the pizzas I've had at Don Antonio in vivid detail and provide delightful anecdotes that paint a picture of the experience.  Hopefully, in the end, you would find all of this delightful and clever, and perhaps you would even want to try the place yourself.

But now I must admit something: I actually would not be happy to summarize my experience at Don Antonio, for at the moment I am bored and even exasperated by the idea of writing yet again about pizza.  How often can a single human being discuss pillowy crusts or bright tomato sauces?  How often can a single human being try to categorize a certain pizza?  Why does it even matter?

Let us continue with our assumption that pizza sometimes tastes good.  I am inclined to think this is true, although we could certainly analyze our experiences and ponder what is really going on when we eat pizza or anything else.  For instance, given our biological situation, our brains reward us for the intake of foods like pizza, filled with fats and carbs and sugars.  Is the reward a psychological mirage? Does our brain make us feel the experience is better than it really is?  If it makes us feel that way then is it really so?

I digress.  As I said, let us continue with our assumption that pizza sometimes tastes good.  Why should a food writer go into excruciating detail?  Why not take a few pictures, make a few brief comments, and let the reader do the rest (as in go and try it him or herself)? It should be noted, more or less the same is suggested in the recent NY Magazine story about young foodie culture, in which the hero the piece says something along the lines of "blogs are so over."

As I sit pondering these issues, I can anticipate some responses: a food writer should share the experience in greater detail to allow the reader to make an informed decision about where to spend his or her time and money.  Or perhaps: good food writing is important because it is lively and entertaining and stimulate the senses. Or perhaps: human beings are social creatures that enjoy sharing experiences, and food writing is about just that - it allows us to connect with others.

A couple of points now follow: I am probably completely self-absorbed and incapable of truly understanding the concept of sharing an experience.  Actually, perhaps that's the only point that follows, yet I must admit, I am left wondering: who in his or her right mind can write about food for a living?  How could that not become absurd? After the 100th time of describing how something tastes, would you not want to drown yourself to death in whipped cream?

In conclusion, I have no idea what I just wrote.  If you're in Hell's Kitchen and want pizza, try Don Antonio's.