Pizza, after work, after drinks, before drinks. A cheap night out, a cheap date. Pizza for sharing, pizza for a movie, pizza for fast food, or pizza for pleasure.
Pizza is meal, pizza is a snack, pizza is fattening, but pizza is not what you might think of as an event.
Often bastardised rarely perfected, like many foods that can be put in that category of ‘comfort food’ it lends itself to the rapid expansion of franchises and restaurants that are bought and sold on paper, agreed upon by accountants and funding managers looking at the numbers on the paper not the food from the kitchen. The hamburger, the kebab, fried chicken, and pizza. Each deconstructed and reassembled by the men with the pens and paper rather than the men with the spatulas and knifes. A successful model, and I myself am guilty of buying into this world, there is nothing better for a hangover or for that ‘bit of what you fancy’ than a greasy buttery McDonalds breakfast. God… fill my liver with fat and lubricate my heart. McDonalds, you have me in the mornings and draw me in like an alcoholic crawling back to the corner shop. This is what pizza has become. The greasy, cheesy addiction for the late night delivery from the teenager on the L plate scooter.
So how did we get here, show an Neopolitan a Pizza Express and be met with look of confusion and distain. This isn’t how its supposed to be, order them a Dominos and be met with the offending concoction directed at speed towards your ever so slightly chubby visage.
I cant blame these endeavours, you begin with a good product, build a successful little restaurant, open another when the times are good and the business keeps coming, so open another, and another. Soon you have a brand, then you have the equity funds come knocking on your door waving a big bundle of cash in your face and who can turn that down as payment for all your hard work slowly building your little pizza empire. There is a small issue, the quality always seems to suffer in the end, attention paid to the books and the people with the pens, too much tomato, can save a few pence here taking a single slice of ham off the topping, no one will notice. Chopping and changing, creating a soulless marketed product for the consumption of the unwashed poorly…. Errr… I seem to have hit a wall. If you are un-educated you may say ‘poorly read’ as opposed to someone who is ‘well read’. Yet what you say when there are people who, for no better term are ‘poorly eaten’ ? I think this needs to be pondered, maybe over a glass of crisp white wine, some sunshine, cold meats and cheese. Hmmm…
Back to the pizza though.
Godfathers Pizza of Crystal Palace, a small, unassuming place perched and nestled atop Crystal Palace, nothing to really see from the outside apart from a couple of guys in the window working at a stone oven, the kind you see in every trendy pizza place today. Nothing to see here, move along. The same you find upon entering, wooden table and benches, olive oils available for dripping, drizzling or just all out drenching your dinner in. Same same. Menu tattered with the typical trendy pizza place dishes, names in Italian, underneath, the ingredients in English thanks to the mono-lingual nature of the British population.
Lets take stock, 2 pizzas, one cheese tomato and pepperoni, one rocket, cured ham and parmesan.
Take one bite and the world has changed. Where am I ? Who am I ? I suddenly want to talk with my hands waving, I cannot stop it, my voice, raising with inflection at the same time, my hair seem to be slicking itself back, that stubble sported from a few days unshaven suddenly become the centrepiece of a more fashionable, passionate me. This pizza is so Italian its seeping into my DNA, there is no longer espresso there is only café in this world. This world is good.
The spice of the sausage, a tang and a kick but never overwhelming with the fats and the paprika melting into the mouth like a spicy ice cream of flavour working its way down. The cured ham, dancing and salting the palate, offsetting the flavours of the cheese and fresh rocket.
This is an experience to be savoured, something that can be held up to the face of God and to say this is creation of man. And God shall look upon it, and God will be beam with affection for this creation on the Earth.
Pizza is not your late night greasy food, taken with a side order of barely identifiable fried chicken. Pizza is the soul and the passion of region of a country that might be as disorganised as the cables running down the back of your TV but holds to account cuisine that travels through the ages.
The Godfather pizza restaurant of Crystal Palace is worth the journey out of the centre of the metropolis, to a world of pure fantasy. Your late night pleasure delivered by the slightly stoned scooter rider will never be the same again.
Visit, eat, drink, and ruin pizza for ever more because you will always know what this should taste like.