Today, The New York Times posted a defense of their inclusion of "pizza" on the "Meh List," which they call "a much-beloved and much-maligned part of the One Page Magazine." Up until now, I was unaware that the "Meh List" was "much-anything," but now that the Grey Lady herself has dragged pizza into the mix, I must step in.
In his takedown of one of the most awesome things to eat — the other thing being, of course, the burrito — Willy Staley presents the following scenario:
like so many T-ball coaches before you, you pull into a strip-mall parking lot and find a spot in front of the local Chuck E. Cheese. There, you will feed a massive group of picky 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 mall because pizza, like a strip mall, is fundamentally meh — good, but rarely great; 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 as the 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 when you're intoxicated ("One cheese pizza. Thanks"). Pizza is of the people, by the people, for the people.
Also, it's what I had for dinner tonight.
[It's really hard to find a picture that conveys how great pizza is, via Flickr]