Before I begin, a disclaimer: I’m not saying French food is bad. On the contrary, there are many French dishes that I love. But even when you live in a culinary mecca, and appreciate the native cuisine, over time, you will probably find yourself craving comestibles from elsewhere now and then -- or even…fast food....
When I saw the billboard, I thought I was having a vision. “Brooklyn” was scrolled boldly across the top, and there was a pizza underneath.
If I had to choose a last meal, New York pizza would be it (of course, there’d be dessert, as well). Like so many people, I love those big, greasy, floppy slices of pie. The flavors, the slightly burnt taste of the crust, the grease from the cheese flowing into your mouth at each bite….
The French, however, aren’t fans of New York pizza. At least, not the many I know who’ve heard my rhapsodizing and then sheepishly admitted that, when they’d tried this culinary delight for themselves on a trip to the Big Apple, they hadn’t liked it at all. Too heavy, some are even so bold as to suggest. Which sort of puzzles me, considering these are the same people who love sausage, fatty bits of meat, and creamy sauces. But even my boyfriend, who’s grown to like such quintessential New York dishes as matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwiches, and street vendor hot dogs, just can’t find any pleasure in eating a slice of it.
So how was Brooklyn pizza going to work here?
As I looked at the ad more closely, I realized it was a Pizza Hut creation. Pizza Hut in France
isn’t the same as it is in the States – here, there’s a huge variety of pizzas, many topped with fine cheeses and given evocative names. The boyfriend’s favorite Pizza Hut pizza, for example, is called la montagnarde
- “the mountaineer”. It’s topped with mozzarella, a light coating of sour cream, fresh mushrooms, strips of cured ham, and Saint-Nectaire cheese.
While this might indeed make people think of a pizza version of what you’d typically eat after a hearty day of hiking in the Alps, the Brooklyn pizza, on the other hand, does a less successful job of capturing the spirit of Brooklyn – at least to me. It has a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. The sauce is barbecue, instead of tomato, and it’s adorned with a few strips of bacon (or chicken, if you prefer).
The boyfriend doesn’t know why it’s supposed to evoke Brooklyn in the French mind, either, but the other day, he came home with a craving for it.
Out of principle, I’d told myself I wouldn’t try this poor substitute for real New York pizza. ….But it did sound good....I decided to give it a shot.
Off we went to the nearest Pizza Hut, and ordered not one, but two Brooklyn pizzas, because at French Pizza Huts, if you pick up your order, you get a free pizza of the same or lesser value. “The Brooklyn pizza better not totally suck,” I thought, as we carried the boxes back home.
Ali took a shine to the pizzas right away – or at least to the warm cardboard around them. We managed to get him off the boxes, cut into one of the pizzas, and tasted.
I have to say, the Brooklyn pizza is nothing like a real Brooklyn pizza. But it’s still pretty darn good. We ate a few slices with relish (the feeling, not the condiment) – except for Ali, who, it turns out, doesn’t like bacon, and was pretty disappointed in our choice.
Here’s to Pizza Hut’s Brooklyn Pizza. And here’s to my continued hope that someday an Italian-American chef will open a real New York-style pizzeria in the City of Light.