Today on Caramel Toast, a battle, a duel, a tale of two great cities and just like in Charles Dickens’ classic we take a look at 2 dominant cities in our time. In the red corner, coming in from the banks of Lake Michigan, the Windy City, Chicago. In the blue corner, renowned to be the greatest city on the planet, the Big Apple, New York City. Today’s choice of weaponry in this no-holds barred, hell in a cell, cage match will be no other than the pride and joy of each city. A weapon so potent it brings out emotions of superiority, pizza!
Yes, pizza, the circle of life in today’s day and age, its comp
act form provides daily nutrients in the most efficient way possible. Pizza is packed with starches, carbohydrates and a wide variety of proteins of choice. Oftentimes, arguably all the time, topped with the foundation of cheese, you can slap on anything on top of that wonderful pie, anchovies, bacon, ham, chicken, pepperoni, vegetables and many others. Pizza is our pop culture, it’s a symbol of the food revolution of the 20th century finding solace in a dish as old as civilization itself.
The pizza we know today had origins that date back to Ancient Greece and Ancient Mesopotamia where flatbread was often garnished with different toppings and baked in a clay oven thus creating an efficient meal that contained everything to get by the day. The modern iteration of pizza was popularized in 1889 when a unified Italy boasted of a thin crust pizza with the simple toppings of basil, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The toppings and their colors represented the new nation’s flag of green, white and red. The pizza was named after Italy’s new queen, Margherita. The humble yet popular pizza was a hit especially among the working class and the masses as it was very affordable, it was delicious and it was substantial.
The wave of popularity came to the shores of America with the massive amount of immigration seen in the late 19th century and early 20th century of Italians seeking to test their fortunes in the emerging nation of opportunity. Two cities were starting to dominate and mold the American dream for these new immigrants, New York City and its surrounding boroughs, was usually their entry point and jobs were aplenty for the Italian community there. The city of Chicago was the other city most migrants decided to settle in. Jobs were aplenty with a lot of construction ongoing, corporations getting set up and business thriving, even the underworld was massively hiring.
What characterizes and differentiates both pizzas? Their composition, presentation and taste among others. New York pizza has a thinner crust and is usually crispy in the middle. A variety of toppings can be added but it is usually kept simple and arguably more traditional to the original Italian invention. The crust is chewy and soft and provides the filling factor with the crispy middle providing the tickle to the taste. Chicago pizza in the meantime is widely known for its deep-dish pizza. A thick behemoth of substantial extent loaded with meat, cheese and whatever else you can fit in that ¾ to 1-inch thick pie.
Now that we’ve covered the history and a quick overview of the pies each city brings the next step is to go into an in-depth and exhaustive comparison between these 2 legends. Watch out for the next article that covers this in the next part of the Tale of Two Pizzas!