Pizza Mystic

A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, this magazine’s food critic, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, approached me with an idea for a story. She wanted to write about pizza.

I thought this was an excellent idea. I love pizza. More important, readers love pizza. At the time, I figured that Dara would research the pizza story the way people have been researching pizza stories since the dawn of time (or at least the dawn of pizza): She would go out and visit approximately 65,000 pizza places. She would decide which ones she thought were the best. And she would write them up. We’d get some beautiful, drool-inducing photos from pizza joints around the Twin Cities, and that would be that. Simple. Succinct. Straightforward.

There was a flaw in my logic, however. I had forgotten that Dara doesn’t really do simple. This is a woman, after all, who once put a mathematical equation in a story about burgers, a writer who will go to the ends of the earth in pursuit of crêpes. So it should not have come as a surprise when, after a few weeks of working on the story, Dara appeared in the doorway to my office, carrying a large sheaf of papers and sporting an oversized grin.

“I figured it out,” she said.

Now, it’s been my experience that when Dara says “I’ve figured it out,” it really means “I’ve figured out a way to make this way more complicated than you ever thought it could be.”

She spread the papers across my desk and launched into her pitch. To choose just one or 10 or 15 “best” pizzas, she argued, was futile and dumb, like picking the best musical genre or the best marsupial. Is jazz really better than classical? Is a kangaroo really better than a wombat? Who’s to say? And if we accepted that line of argument, how could we say that one kind of pizza is better than another, that thin-crust is better than thick, that Neapolitan-style pizza is better than Chicago-style?

Before I could respond—let alone mount what was sure to be a spirited defense of the wombat—Dara proposed an alternative. Rather than naming our favorite pizzas, she said, we could tell readers what kind of pizza was best for them—and where to get it. For that, all we needed to do was come up with a way for each person to determine their wants and desires—pizza-wise, that is.

She had a point. After all, I know I have engaged in vicious and lengthy debates with friends, family, and colleagues over my own pizza preferences. Indeed, lifelong relationships have been severed over the issue of toppings alone. Don’t even get me started on the heartache and havoc that crust choice has caused.

And so, to remedy this situation, Dara came up with the PPTI, the Pizza Personality Type Indicator, which you will find on page 86. I will not go into details about the PhD-level thinking involved in creating it, but I will say that the PPTI is a kind of test—a tool, really—to help you make one of the more important decisions in life.

And if that doesn’t move you, the story also includes drool-inducing photos of pizza. And no math.

Andrew Putz