Today, The New YorkTimes posted a defense of their inclusion of “pizza” on the “Meh List,” whichthey call “a much-beloved and much-maligned part of the One Page Magazine.” Upuntil now, I was unaware that the “Meh List” was “much-anything,” but now that theGrey Lady herself has dragged pizza into the mix, I must step in.
In his takedown ofone of the most awesome things to eat — the other thing being, of course, theburrito — Willy Staley presents the following scenario:
like so many T-ballcoaches before you, you pull into a strip-mall parking lot and find a spot infront of the local Chuck E. Cheese. There, you will feed a massive group ofpicky children under the hiss and whir of a grotesque animatronic rock band,and it will be fine. Pizza is right at home here in a suburban strip mallbecause pizza, like a strip mall, is fundamentally meh — good, but rarelygreat; fine, but seldom bad.
Au contraire, my underwhelmed friend! Pizza is often bad. It is bad when it is too fussy and expensive,it is bad when it falls apart in your hands, it is bad when it is offered asthe sole incentive to attend a terrible speaking event at work or in college.But when it is good — and, sometimes, it is indeed great — it is transcendent.It is personalized, it is easy to share, it is easy to order in 4 words whenyou’re intoxicated (“One cheese pizza. Thanks”). Pizza is of the people, by thepeople, for the people.
Also, it’s what Ihad for dinner tonight.