Craving a slice or two? Go ahead and indulge - all around the world.
Have you ever had a craving for an impossible-to-find food in another country? I went crazy for pasta while in Bangkok (and I LOVE Thai food), while I was craving tacos like crazy in Athens (did I mention I ate tacos twice the week before?) And pizza! I can't begin to count the number of slices I've eaten all around the world - and I'm someone who adores food and loves nothing more than getting to know a new culture through their cuisine. What's going on?
I guess there are occasions where you just crave variety or familiarity and comfort. But sometimes those cravings come at a cost - I always feel so guilty that I'm not eating something more local, more authentic. But guilt is a horrible emotion to waste your energy on, especially when you should be enjoying your trip. So I'm now going to indulge - guilt free - in pizza all around the world and I think you should too! Here are my best reasons for eating pizza, no matter where you are in the world.
It's a great way to try local ingredients
Have you ever had fresh Hawaiian pineapple on a Hawaiian pizza? It's absolutely amazing! And the local mushroom and onions aren't bad either.
If a region is famous for a certain ingredient (like Vermont and it's cheddar) ask if you can get it on your pizza.
Tracking down the ingredients to make your own homemade pizza is an even better way to source local food and get to know farmers and their markets.
Use pizza pick up to explore new neighbourhoods
Want to find the best pizza in town? Ask a 20-something guy, like the car rental desk staffer. And use that as your motivation to discover a new neighborhood. Take that fresh pie to the nearest public park and spend some time there eating and people watching. Go explore the museum closest to the pizza parlor. Ask the staff who has the second best restaurant in the area - after their own, of course!
Chat with locals
Everyone says they want to meet locals when they travel - why not start by talking to the person right in front of you? Everyone loves pizza. Offer a slice to whoever is working the front desk of your hotel or hostel. Chat for 5 minutes to the guys at the pick up counter. Tell the market vendors what you're searching for and get some personal recommendations.
Use your money to support independent businesses
There's nothing wrong with chain or resort restaurants but the extra nice thing about ordering from an independent pizza parlor or buying all of your ingredients at a market is that the money you spend stays in the community you are visiting. It's an easy way to make sure your travel dollars go the distance.
Speaking of money...
Pizza is still pretty darn affordable, even with the rise of gourmet joints. And cheap pizza can be good - there are still places recommended in the Frommer's New York City guidebook that sell pizza for $1, $2 a slice. We can easily STUFF ourselves for $20, with leftover slices and dollars to enjoy tomorrow.
A good deal, round the clock
Pizza makes for a fine breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack and is one of the few non-fast food options late at night. Toting leftovers with me for my next meal is one of the many reasons I travel with Ziploc bags in my pack!
And it might even be healthy!
Okay, let's not kid ourselves. There's no way pizza is a health food. But if you've been living off greasy fried noodles in Asia or devouring African style potato wedges deep fried in palm oil, chances are a loaded veggie pizza will taste mighty wholesome. Asking for a thin or whole wheat crust, extra vitamin-C packed tomato sauce, fresh garlic, or a sparse serving of cheese raises the health factor even more.
It's always a safe choice
I'll be the first to admit there's no pizza that compares to authentic Italian pizza, enjoyed in Italy. But you'd be surprised how easy it is to get pizza that's passable (or even pretty darn good) all over the world. I'm not sure I'd go so far to say that there's no such thing as bad pizza but thanks to Italian immigrants (and New Yorkers!), if you're craving something different after your third straight week of nsima and chambo fish, pizza's a good choice.
Best reason of all? It's FUN!
Traveling doesn't need to be so serious, so hardcore, so "I'm a traveler, not a tourist". Why not just have fun!? Grab a pizza and use it to break the ice and make new friends at a hostel. Watch a movie or catch up on your reading while enjoying some delicious slices. Have a lazy night in. Rest. Relax. Enjoy.
Life's too short to sweat the small stuff!
Where's the most unexpected place you've had pizza? What did you order and how did it taste?
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