An introduction to Argentinian Pizza

* I originally wrote this article in Spanish for Buenos Aires Connect.

Pizza is Argentina is a complex issue. Mainly because the country has its own “pizza genre”, fundamentally different from traditional Italian pizza in preparation, ingredients and presentation.

Ingredients y presentation

Classic Argentinian pizza has a thick, airy dough (more than 2cm) that’s very different from that thin Italian pizza base. This dough can be de molde, the thicker one; or also media masa, less thick, but still thick. Also, for a pizza to qualify as “Argentinian”, it has to have PLENTY of cheese, dripping on the side, overshadowing the sauce and making it look excessive, almost obscene.

Toppings and varieties

There are also local “sub-genres”, to be found in almost all traditional pizzerias. Some combinations are very strange. Read on:

* Muzza: The legendary Muzza is a classic. A lot of cheese, modest amount of sauce, and a final touch of olives and oregano.

*Fugazza: Onion pizza (no cheese).

*Fugazzeta: My absolute favorite. It’s an onion pizza with grated cheese and filled with muzzarella.

*Napolitana: Beware! If you read this on the menu, IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU’LL GET A NEAPOLITAN PIZZA. You will get a super Argentinian pizza with tomato slices and a lot of garlic.

*Calabresa: slices of spicy pork sausage.

*Jamón y morrones:  ham and bell pepper.

*Pizza con verdura y salsa blanca: Spinach and Bechamel

*Pizza con palmitos y salsa golf: The craziest one: palm heart and “golf” sauce (mix of ketchup and mayo).

The local pizza ceremony

Just as they have their own ingredients and combinations, Argentinians also have special customs when it comes to pizza.

  • The Fainá: this chickpea tortilla is exclusively offered at pizzerias and it’s customary to put it on top of the pizza slice, and then eat it all as a whole. I find Fainás extremely delicious, but I prefer to eat them separately.
  • Pairing: In ancient times, the tradition was to pair pizza with Moscato, a sort of sweet white wine. Today most pizza combos come with a beer.
  • The experience: Locals eat pizza al corte, that is, by the slice; and de parado, that is, standing next to strangers in long communal counters.
  • Tools: There’s usually bad quality napkins (they’re said to absorb the dripping oil better), seasonings and other things necessary for the “express” experience. But the exaggerated amount of cheese and dough makes it hard to maneuver the slice; so Argentinian pizza is eaten with a fork and a knife.

Many foreigners (and some porteños) claim that Argentinian pizza is more of an Italian focaccia.  Truth be told, Argentinian pizza does not have many fans. That’s too bad. But more for me.

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