Italian: Pizza day

p1We went to visit G’s parents for the weekend and during the four days we ate pizza for three nights. I was more than happy to take part in this, but it left me wondering: What does pizza mean to Italians? So I asked.

매일 피자를 먹으라면 할 수 있을 것 같은 이탈리아인들. 피자의 의미가 궁금해 친한 이탈리아 친구들에게 물어봤다.

p3The one thing I’ve realized about taking photos of Italian pizzas is that they are never photogenic. It’s probably because the pizzaioli (the people who make the pizza, the singular form is pizzaiolo) are just too busy to focus much on the appearance. It’s more about the dough than the toppings. They tend to spend a lot more time on the dough and just sprinkle the ingredients on top. (They wear white t-shirts because of flour stains. I asked. The chef looked at me for about 5 seconds in silence, not knowing what to think, haha.)

참고로 피자만 만드는 사람을 이탈리아어로 피자욜로라고 한다 (복수가 피자욜리). 늘 흰 난닝구같은 티셔츠를 입고 있어서 이번에 G집 근처 유명한 피자집 피자욜로 아저씨한테 물어봤다. 왜 흰색만 입냐고. 한 5초 날 뚫어지게 쳐다보곤 대답함: 밀가루가 흰색이니까. 아 네.

p5Most of my friends I asked agreed that pizza means a quick fix. Like our good friend P, who said it means “no time to cook!” and D who agreed by saying “a quick solution.” So I guess it’s something like ramen and Koreans? But then there was a bit more than just a fast bite. G, another friend who lives in Rome, said it was “culture.” P added that it reminds him of the first Saturday when he was allowed to go out and eat with his friends about 20 years ago. So it’s more than ramen, because I sure don’t remember the time when I ate ramen with friends for the first time.

대부분의 친구들은 시간이 없거나 요리하기 귀찮거나 할때 피자를 먹는다고 했다. 뭔가 나와 라면과 비슷한 관계인가. 좀 더 성의있는 대답을 해봐 라고 하자 로마에 사는 친구가 피자=문화라고 얘기해줌. 또 다른 친구는 피자하면 처음으로 친구들끼리만 나가서 밥 먹은 토요일 저녁이 생각난다고 함. 그것도 20년전. 그럼 라면은 아니다. 난 친구들과 처음으로 먹은 음식은 물론, 라면을 언제 처음 먹었는지 기억도 안남.

p4My G wanted more time to think. He knows that I’ll write whatever he says, so he’s learned to be cautious when talking about something like this. This is what he came up with: “It’s a memory of good, fun, young times. When I think of pizza, I remember the people, the parties, the conversations, the drinks and everything that happened with friends when I was younger. Everything happened at a pizza place.”

So it’s more than just the food. It’s the culture, as G in Rome pointed out. This was interesting because I tried to think of a Korean dish that had a similar sentiment, but it was tricky. Not ramen. Not kimchi. Maybe bibimbap? (If the KTO or KOTRA could come up with a traditional dish and link it with something other than girl groups and ridiculous phrases and songs, I think it could work. The process of such sentiments and culture can be different, but I think it would be easier to “sell” than just starting to call something K-food and promote it.)

G도 역시 추억을 되짚었다. 철없고 재밌었던 어린시절이 떠오르고 피자하면 친구들, 파티들, 대화 등등 어렸을때 친구들과 함께 보낸 그 시간들이 생각이 난다고. 그 모든 일들이 거의 모두 피자집에서 일어났다고 했다. 꼭 제일 맛있는 음식이라서 찾는게 아니라 그 분위기나 추억이 좋아서, 익숙해서 먹는거라고. 우리나라도 이상한 캐치프레이즈나 이름 짓지 말고 추억을 팔 수 있는 음식에 집중하면 뭔가 나올 것 같은 느낌이 들었…지만 그런 음식이 뭐가 있지? 비빔밥? 김치? 물론 우리나라는 친구들끼리 나가서 뭘 먹는게 그렇게 큰 행사?는 아니고 문화적인 차이야 있겠지만 비빔밥에 한국대표라고 써붙이고 아이돌 그룹이 홍보한다고 저절로 한국 대표 음식으로 자리잡길 바라는건 약간 무리라고 생각.

p6

p8See what I mean when I say pizzas are not photo-friendly? Mine in the first photo was a pesto pizza with shrimps. I tend to try different types of pizza whenever I can. For example, with no sauce, with white sauce, with pesto, with different toppings like seafood. G’s was with mushrooms and salsiccia, which is a very safe choice if you can’t decide.

이탈리아 피자는 보기엔 맛이 없어 보이는게 사실. 어느 각도로 사진을 찍어도 예쁘게 나오긴 힘든 모양이다. 그래서 그런지 피자는 잘 안찍게 됨. 난 개인적으로 음식에 있어서는 실험정신이 강한 편이라 다양한 토핑과 소스를 골라서 먹는 편인다. 페스토와 새우 먹었는데 생각보다 (느끼하고) 맛있었음! 문제는 도우 반죽. 도우가 맛없으면 뭘 올려놔도 맛이 없다는 것. 도우가 맛있으면 빵만 먹어도 맛있다.

I realized that the toppings don’t really matter, but the dough does. The thin-chewy-crispy-and-a-little-burnt-in-the-edges dough is what counts.

p2All photos by rachelsanghee

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