Having recently spent 2 weeks in Chicago, I feel somewhat entitled to comment more deeply on their deep dish pizza. It tried it all kinds of ways: meaty, saucy, veggie, with beer, and with a meat crust.
Food fads come and go all over the world, but Chicago’s backwards pizza seems to be a fad that stuck. It’s not backwards as in, “I’m eating the crust before the slice because I’m a savage with greasy hands”. It’s backwards as in “I put all the ingredients in the wrong order in ridiculous proportions”. Take the crust for example … it’s not a thin platter to rest beneath the toppings; it’s an insanely thick cylindrical wall to keep the pool of ingredients from spilling out. The cheese, which would normally provide that signature look, is thrown straight on top of the crust, beneath everything else. The sauce … rather than being underneath the stuff, is resting atop – even above the toppings. These monstrosities take at least 45 minutes to cook and another 20 minutes to cool down before they’re edible. Everything about them is just backwards. How on earth did they start with a classic, Italian-perfected slice of beauty and end up with something so uncouthly thick and saucy?
I never saw anything even vaguely similar to this in Australia or around Europe. We have “deep pan”, which means the crust is thick but at least it’s still under the pizza. Chicago’s crust makes a 90 degree turn and it’s actually really difficult to eat with your hands because of the sheer angle and size of the “wall” of the crust. Try pouring some spaghetti sauce in the corner of your house and then attempt to lick it up without bumping your head against the wall. That’s what it’s like.
Anyhow, as much as I think Chicago pizza is weird and bears no resemblance to normal pizza, I have to admit that it’s quite tasty. The thick, sweet sauce is really enthralling and seeing as you have to use a knife and fork anyway to get through the crust, there’s no risk of it running down your hand. I tried many pizzas around Chicago and I made the mistake of trying a gluten-free pizza, which meant the “crust” was made of sausage meat. Don’t try that. Trust me. Lou Malnati’s regular pizzas were delicious, though, and actually had a more reasonably sized crust than most. I’m glad this was the pizza that they brought to NYC last year to correct Jon Stewart after his pizza rant. Lou’s refuses to make their pizzas outside of Chicago because of the water quality, and you have to stand by a man who stands by his water.
Even Lou’s describes their pizza as backwards – http://www.loumalnatis.com/about-the-pizza
My previous post ‘Strife of Pie’ – https://carpeurbe.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/strife-of-pie/