Pizza in Italy is good, like I get it. I liked it. It's good. But, if I can be brutally honest with you, my fellow obsessive food nerds, it just didn't make me as happy as cheap-Tuesday, home-delivered barbecue chicken pizza on the couch. I know this might reveal me to be a bogan at the table, but hand-on-my-heart, people, I'm not that guy, honest. I'm quite particular about food. I tend to correct waiters' pronunciations ("It's py-ay-ya, not py-ell-a.") and when my boyfriend reveals to me that he doesn't know what tiramisù is and that he likes to put mashed potato in a salad, it makes me quite uncomfortable. I just have a soft spot for a certain type of pizza.
I like an even spread of toppings. I like thick base. I love it when a crappy pizza place has a "gourmet" menu with a Mexican pizza, or, better still, a "Raj".
I know I should be more interested in beautiful local buffalo mozzarella scattered rustically yet artistically on a thin, woodfired base but I just can't find that as exciting as being able to add a hot-dog-stuffed crust for three bucks.
I feel bad for Italian food. The greatest thing about it is that it's simple, fresh, unpretentious and it tastes like what it's made of. It shows so much restraint and the world just loves it. So we took it and added to it - we pimped it out. We added more cheese and thicker bases and pushed the boundaries of how many different types of animal we can fit on top. We turned it into trash - marvellous trash.
It's not my fault. Too many happy childhood memories revolve around pizza. My first proper birthday party was at all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut. (Do the proper Huts still exist? The last one I knew of was in Surfers Paradise but I think maybe even they quit them.) We filled our friend's bottomless soft drink with chilli and he drank it to be cool and then he vomited. I had my first kiss at a pizza party.
The best day of the week at high school was Thursday, because it was the day the tuckshop ordered in heaps of pizza for lunch. It always blew my mind that this was allowed. Did anyone else have this? Or was my school the only one where the school captain stuck to their core promises?
When I was 19 there was a pizza-slice place in the Valley in Brisbane that we used to think was the most spectacular pizza ever, until I had a slice sober one day and realised they tricked us. But I still eat there every time I'm pissy and in the area.
None of my favourite pizze would pass muster in Italy. I was obsessed with the massive slices in New York that were impossible to eat. I lost my s* when I found out Scotland will deep-fry it for you. I even preferred the rubbish pizza I ate in Thailand after my friend exclaimed, "I can't eat another freakin' papaya salad!"
It was squidgy with too much barbecue sauce and the cheese was bouncy, but while eating it I met a dreamy German boy who let me kiss him. Context is everything.
So when my boyfriend (the same one who shouldn't be allowed near the salad spoons and the spuds) rants about how rubbish the pizza is in Italy - "There were hardly any toppings! They just gave me one big slice of ham. How lazy are they that they won't chop the ham up and spread it around?" - I say to him, "I love the pizza there. I think less is more. It's such delicious produce. Also, I think it was probably prosciutto." But I secretly agree with him.
PS: My publicist was hoping in this article I would mention my new drama/comedy series, Please Like Me. I'm not very good at sneaking in promo, though. Please watch it, maybe with a pizza, on ABC2 on Thursdays at 9:30pm, or pick it up on DVD from 4 April so everything feels relevant.
Josh will be performing his brand new stand-up show, Douchebag, at the Melbourne Comedy Festival from 28 March to 21 April. Visitcomedyfestival.com.aufor details.