Pizza à l’Américain

September 29, 2006 at 2:58 pm | Posted in food | 18 Comments

Whether living abroad or at home, on a national or on a personal level, we all want to know what others think of us. Sure, people might say one thing or another out of politeness, but how do we really look through their eyes?

One answer came today in the mail, in the form of a pizza delivery menu.

No matter that pizza comes from Italy — when the French think of junk food, they can’t help thinking of America. It’s not necessarily a negative association; whatever you’ve read in the papers, the truth is that French people like junk food almost as much as we do. So when they market a pizza, they want to market it as the most flashy, dangerous, irredeemably unhealthy, perfectly American concoction they can think of.

But when it comes to pizza styles, what represents America to the world? Is it those large, lusciously greasy slices you buy on the street in New York? Is the the Chicago-style deep dish: loads of toppings on a thick, flaky crust? Is it something exotic, like the Hawaiian style pineapple and ham?


pizza menu

Here we have two classic American-style pizzas, the New York and the Indiana. There were many other slices of cheesy Americana available, but I chose these two because I am originally from New York, and the boy is originally from Indiana, which of course enhances the amusement value.

For those struggling with the French: the New York style pizza is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, barbecue sauce, onions, hamburger meat, and pickles. The Indiana, on the other hand, is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, curry sauce, thin-sliced chicken, and potatoes.

I… You know what, I don’t even know where to go with this. Can anyone actually eat these concoctions without vomiting? Are they in fact better than they look? And really, with representations like this — is it any wonder the French can’t take us seriously?



  1. Wow! Pun-based junk cuisine! That’s better than a mall-full of hair salons.

  2. I never understood why a sandwich américain had fries piled on it…

    One of the best pizzas I ever had in France had foie gras and magret de canard on it. Oh. my. God.

  3. i think the New York sounds kinda good . . . if you ask for it without pickles. because pickles on pizza is totally fucked up.

  4. Alison — now that’s what I’m talking about! Give me canard before you give me pickles.

  5. Carrie — ah, but without the pickles, would it really feel like New York? 😉

  6. I wonder how many French people could pick out Indiana on a map? There is a restaurant chain in Paris called “Indiana” that serves the French interpretation of Tex-Mex, with American Indian motifs in the decor.
    For the ‘kitsch’ version of l’amérique, go by the American Dream restaurant, not far from Opèra.

  7. I’ve seen those Indiana restaurants, although I’ve never been inside. Maybe I’ll take the boy’s parents there, when they come to visit… I’m sure they’d be both appalled and amused.

  8. I bet “Indiana” has something to do with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Think about it.

  9. In Iceland, Domino’s pizza serves a “New York” pizza that has hamburger, cheddar cheese, and onions on it.

    As the only time I would go into Domino’s anywhere would be midnight when nothing else was open, I sampled the “New York” pizza and it was excruciatingly mediocre.

    The greatest pizza craze hitting Reykjavík last time I was there was the “Reyjavíkur” pizza that had just been created: pepperoni, black olives, cream cheese, and pineapple. I could eat an entire pizza, and I don’t even like black olives! It really should not be that good. It should even be completely digusting, but it’s not.

    (Also: There’s a restaurant called “American Style” in Iceland that serves hamburgers… topped with cucumbers and thousand island dressing. It’s the most Icelandic meal you’ll ever eat.)

  10. I love the closeup of the being there. But I just can not believe this has anything to do with Pizza?! You could say this was an innovative interpretation if there was anything appealing about it. These Indiana joints sound interesting…It reminds me of the mixed-up American words you see on T-shirts in Japan – from another planet

  11. Carol — it turns out those Indiana joints make their servers wear T-Shirts with big Indian heads on them… Which makes me wonder if they’ve ever even heard of the state.

  12. I can’t figure out why the French consider it junk food in the first place. In the little pizza place we go to in the burbs, we can watch the guy spin the dough, load on the ingredients and everything. It looks much better than the dubious things you can buy in the supermarket…

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your novel… 🙂 Am counting on making my escape early next year actually. When I told my hubs that I was going to quit come hell or high water, he nearly went ape. The French just don’t do that. They prefer being secure and miserable. I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand them…

  13. JChevais — I suppose even in America, most people inevitably stick to the “secure and miserable” route. But I’ve never met anyone who gave it all up who wasn’t happier in the long run.

    As for the pizza — you’re absolutely right. In Italy (and some good places in France and America), the pizza is anything but junk food. But I think that at “SpeedyRabbit Pizza”, we can safely assume the food will be pure crap.

  14. I find this stuff really interesting, “stuff” being the way that cuisines are interpreted outside of the mother country…state…whatever. It’s WEIRD man. God knows in NYC we totally chug bbq sauce with our onions and steak and…uh…

    Mm, Indiana sounds tasty.

    There’s a burger place in NYC that names burgers after places. One is an Iceland burger. I forgot what made it Icelandic.

    Anyhoo, if you can put all those pizza toppings in a sandwich, I don’t think it’s too horrible to eat on a pizza. It definitely doesn’t feel right though. ;P

  15. […] Anyone out there remember the pizza menu of horror? Well, that story just got a lot more horrific. […]

  16. That sounds horrible and luckily I have nothing in my stomach to upchuck right now.

    In the vein of weird pizzas, I was with a friend around Goncourt and we ordered a Pizza Saag Paneer, which is like Indian curried spinach pizza, and both of us freaked out it was so good. Of course we also shot it down the hatch with a good dose of beer and tequila.

  17. Those menus are from Speedrabbit pizza, and they are actually some of the best delivery pizza I’ve ever had…just not those two pizzas in particular. The basic pizas are much less crazy

  18. […] always teasing the French for their ill-conceived attempts at imitating American food? (see here, here, here, and here.) Well, I figure turn about is fair […]

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