The Thinking 

Pizza Trek

August 18, 2012


VINCENT C. writes:

Although I have previously pointed out that “the perfect pizza” can only be found where there are San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella from the milk of buffalo, authentic Parmesan cheese, and skills acquired after years of apprenticeship to put these ingredients together in a wood-burning oven, a recent story in The Washington Post indicates that such raw materials are superfluous, for there are scientists now working on a project that will produce that “perfect pizza product.” It will be part of a menu offered to space travelers on the voyage to Mars in the 2030s.

Since it may take as long as six months to reach “the red planet,” the six to eight astronauts must be kept happy on their journey to – and from – Mars, and what better way to increase their happiness level than to produce a “perfect pizza?” Food on such journeys can be awfully bland, and Maya Cooper, senior research scientist with Lockheed Martin, is now leading their effort to produce a menu that may include up to 100 separate items that will make our astronauts digestively happy. Pizza immediately came to her mind, for who does not like pizza, even if it is freeze dried and has a “shelf life” of two years? There are problems in eating our pizza on Mars, but Johnson and her staff at the Johnson Space Center in Houston are considering resolutions to such difficulties, as well as preparing other tasty morsels for our representatives in space, such as a variety of fruits and vegetables in a hydroponic solution.

To read this drivel is to remind oneself – again – that with the development of fast and frozen food, we have come to accept the premise that our food serves only one major purpose: our health. Taste, sight, and the olfactory senses are of lesser, if any value, for we have been brainwashed to believe that food was made to be consumed, but not to be savored.

The next time I walk the slightly inclined streets that surround the city of Naples in my search for the more perfect pizza, I will inform the pizza maker, with tomato stains on his white apron, of our efforts to freeze dry pizza for the astronauts. Despite his lack of a university degree, he will listen politely; then, gesturing with his hand, he will exclaim: Ma questo e’ buono? (But this is good?)

My response will be difficult, for such men’s ideas have not been overtaken by the notion of progress at all costs.

—— Comments ——

Vincent C. adds:

Some may believe that my preoccupation with “the perfect pizza” is unhinged. After all, how good does a pizza have to be?  I justify my interest not only aesthetically, but on Biblical grounds. To wit…

For those followers of the Traditional (now referred to as the Extraordinary) Mass, I can refer to the Communion prayer of the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, which I cite:

The earth shall be filled with the fruit of Thy works, O Lord, that Thou mayest bring bread out of the earth, and that wine may cheer the heart of man; that he may make the face cheerful with oil; and that bread my strengthen man’s heart.

I further submit that the substitution of pizza may serve as bring(ing) the bread out of the earth, and, equally important, our responsibility of imbibing wine, not beer or spirits, to “cheer the heart of man” in enjoying that bread.

I do not claim to be a Biblical exegete, but I take umbrage when, in Italy of all places, I note the defection of the younger generation toward beer with their pizza.

The world doth change.

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