Pizzacentric presents stories about food. Whether it's via photographs, audio or video snippets, or essays, Pizzacentric strives to illuminate food passion by connecting the dots between time-tested foods and the people who make them. At least half of the posts on Pizzacentric are about pizza.
Like many foods imported from far away, pizza has retained its simplicity. But it has also changed and adapted to the times and to the diversity of people who make it and eat it. Some changes have been slight (but important): credit an Italian immigrant with growing the size of a pizza from individual to sharable. While others have been more dramatic: like the garlicky and spicy Indo-Pak pizza at Elmhurst Famous in Queens; or the processed pizzas churned out by corporate restaurants and frozen food companies.
Pizza. it's the perfect by-the-people-for-the-people food. Street vendors in Naples sold early pizze to the poor; Italians who immigrated to the United States, many of whom were factory workers, cooked their own pies at home, grandma style, or purchased them from bakeries or street vendors; and today, despite skyrocketing prices of nearly everything (including many of our pizza choices), the 99¢ slice has emerged as a cheap food option in Manhattan and the boroughs.
Of course, nothing is as affordable or as intimate as a home-cooked meal. I am fortunate enough to possess an open invitation to my friend Alex's house, where his mom cooks delicious baccalau (salt cod) stewed with peppers and onions, rice and beans made with pigeon peas and pumpkin, and tostones (plantains twice-fried) ― all to Puerto Rican perfection. Her delicious food differs from that made her daughter-in-law. She makes her sofrito with only raw herbs and vegetables. But others may cook the onions and peppers.
Pizzacentric visits not only pizzerias, but also places like Alex's mom's, Turnpike rest stops, calamari specialists, and out-of-the-way sandwich shops.
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To read more on my relationship with pizza and New York's rich pizza history, I recommend the 3/6/12 post entitled "The Freedom of Pizza."