Hey folks. I’m Dara. I plan to spend my time here abusing Spencer’s gracious hospitality and trying my co-bloggers’ patience by making y’all feel guilty for not paying more attention to immigration policy.* But it’s a beautiful day in D.C., and the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and I figure I can start guilting you later.

Besides, I need to rescue this blog from the culinary neo-imperialism of Daniel’s post. Sure, my esteemed colleague says that he “love(s) each style of pizza equally,” but watch that attempt later in the graf to lay down a hierarchy: “deep dish is a meal, thin crust is a snack.”

First of all, that’s just wrong on the empirics. Dude, have you ever seen the wedges they serve at any given hole-in-the-wall Ray’s in New York? Those things aren’t snacks, they’re spatial-reasoning problems. And the square footage of cheese and meat loaded on is so unholy that it’s a miracle Bloomberg hasn’t tried to regulate it yet. New York slice, a snack? The First Lady would be deeply ashamed.

More importantly, I want to push back more robustly against the dominant assumption that comparing regional pizza styles is worthwhile to begin with. We as a nation need to acknowledge that over the decades, we’ve developed at least three different styles of pizza — New York, Chicago, and New Haven — that have evolved into such distinctive eating experiences that putting them up against each other doesn’t even make sense. They may all be called “pizza” (though in the spirit of pluralism I’d encourage more widespread use of “apizza” to refer to New Haven-style) but when one has to be folded, one can’t be folded and the third can’t even be eaten without a knife and fork, isn’t any comparison just indulging our parochial desires to judge other cultures by our values — then act surprised but objectively validated when our own comes out on top?

It’s easy to pay lip service to pluralism and recognizing the value of different traditions, but you get into dangerous territory when you try to fit everything into one cosmopolitan framework. (Remember that awful speech Mitt Romney gave during his presidential run, when he called out his favorite things about each major religious tradition? Yick.) “My pizza is a meal, yours is a snack” is just hierarchy with a smiley face. True pluralism means recognizing not just difference, but incommensurability, and working to appreciate each tradition in its own context rather than dragging it into some sort of culinary cagefight. There is no objectivity in pizza throwdowns; the game is always rigged in favor of the home team.

Lots of people, and peoples, have loaded things on flatbreads, and we don’t ask Michelle Obama to choose among all of them. I think a lot of unnecessary posturing and strife could be avoided if we admitted that, in the scope of our culinary invention as in our national waistline, we are large, we contain multitudes.

*Permadisclaimer: My opinions about immigration politics and policy — or, for that matter, regional pizza variation — are entirely my own and are not in any way associated with my employer or any other organization.

Dara Lind

Dara Lind

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