These poems were created this season in the Writing Life poetry workshop Write What Life Feels LIke Now with Esther C
Books & Pizza
Pizza is one of the world's most popular foods - With good reason. You can eat a pie or slice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (If you're a hobbit, you'll eat pizza for a second breakfast, elevenses, afternoon tea, and supper!) Pizza offers many options for those of various dietary lifestyles and food allergies, including gluten-free, vegan, and paleo. Not only can you have it savory, but pizza can also be sweet! It is the perfect excuse to eat a chocolate-hazelnut spread with your desired toppings! Speaking of toppings, you can have as many as you want, plus the crust of your preference (thick, deep dish, you name it)! There are many reasons why pizza is beloved.
Pizzas are like books - you have different media (including ebooks and audiobooks) combined with various genres, perfect for many people.
As someone who is a huge lover of books and pizza (I mean huge - I have Italian family members with a bed & breakfast complete with a pizzeria, where I demand pizza whenever I visit) I started to wonder: If I were a pizza, what pizza would I be based on my reading? There are so many different kinds, flavors, and toppings. So here's a fun selection of pizzas - choose your favorite or the one that looks delicious to you, and find out what genre you are! You'll also get a book title!
Enjoy - or rather Buon appetito!
If you love…Pizza Margherita!
It is the quintessential Neapolitan pizza, made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, salt, and extra-virgin olive oil. To me it is such a classic, with fresh mozzarella and sweet and tangy tomatoes that turn into a sauce, with the slightly burnt crust that is just glorious.
If you chose this pizza, you are, naturally, Classic! There are many debates to what a classic is. They are recognized, noteworthy, and valuable examples of literature; they are and will be remembered as essential reading for generations to come. Universally acknowledged classic authors include Homer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and Herman Melville.
Are we forgetting anything? Yes!
Classics are often associated with Western literature! However, the world offers other amazing classics including The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (Heian Period, Japan), the Ramayana (Sanskrit epics of ancient India), or even more contemporary classics such as Things Fall Apart by China Achebe (Nigeria).
If you are a…Funghi Pizza!
Funghi means mushroom, so this is a beloved Neapolitan mushroom pizza. You can have it with ‘red’ sauce or white (mozzarella). It is a deliciously savory and flavorful pizza with the right amount of salt, this umami-meaty flavoring, and the sweetness from the mozzarella and/or the tomato sauce.
If you chose this pizza, you are Poetry! Like mushrooms, poetry has its loyal community. Not everyone appreciates poetry, but that’s okay. There is always something so comforting about a poem that is able to convey the emotions and themes it is expressing through rhythmic word choice. Of course, poetry has a variety of structures based in many cultures and time periods, starting from the profound, flowing descriptive epics of ancient Sumer (The Epic of Gilgamesh) and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
I love poetry (especially the epics I’ve mentioned) and funghi pizza, but I am a bit picky when it comes to poetry. I am a bit old-fashioned with my poetry. My favorites are the works of Dante, Rumi, and Maya Angelou. However, I am loving Tracy K Smith’s (22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019) work including her 2018 poetry collection, Wade in the Water, where she dives deeply into America’s present and past, especially commenting on on the violence done to Black Americans.
If you are a…Capricciosa!
The first time I ever ate this delicious pizza was on the island of Capri for Le Conversazioni, an anglophone literary festival based in Capri and NYC that has attracted a wide range of notable personalities such as Colum McCann, Jamaica Kincaid, and Zadie Smith. After one of the events, we went to a pizzeria nearby. It was the right choice, for the version I had was covered in mozzarella, basil leaves, Italian baked ham, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce, prosciutto, and egg. It sounds strange, but it’s honestly so good. The American equivalent is the Supreme Pizza or Everything Pizza because it feels like it has everything on it. Personally, it is the perfect pizza and feels guilt-free with its abundant vegetables.
If you chose this pizza, you are Science Fiction!
Like science fiction, this pizza is complex, akin to speculative, imaginative, and futuristic concepts with advanced technology, time travel, exploration to other worlds, and so much more. You also have subdivisions like Christian science fiction and feminist science fiction, diving deeply into themes like creation and gendered oppression. My recent favorite science fiction author is Octavia Butler. Her works stand out as a diverse perception of dystopias with social and political themes, including systematic racism. I highly recommend Bloodchild and Other Stories!
If you pick…Detroit-style pizza!
This is an iconic, local dish for Detroit with its recognizable rectangular, thick crust that is crispy and chewy. It is traditionally topped first with Wisconsin cheese, then tomato sauce layered with your desired toppings, if anything. I personally love this pizza with pepperoni! The pepperoni just goes well with the caramelized cheese on the edge - delicious!
If you chose this pizza, you are a Short Story!
Why? because in my experience, I never have any leftovers! Short stories have the potential to stay with you. As much as many other genres and mediums, a great short story can be a transformative experience that can punch you in the gut or be a quiet yet just as powerful moment in time. Favorite short stories are a quick way to escape a busy day. Some are cathartic yet just as timeless as their most laidback counterparts.
The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is an important early work of American feminist literature, especially on the mental and physical health of women in the 19th century. Another spell-binding read is The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, which focuses on a universe in the form of a vast library that is everything, including frightening!
If you are…NYC Slice Pizza!
I had to include this stunning pizza, as it's an icon for our city. The slice came from Italian immigrants who brought Neapolitan pizza to New York and to America in the 1900s. The New York Style pizza is large and wide with a thin crust that is crispy and foldable!
If you chose this pizza, you are Romance!
Like a NYC slice, when it’s good, it’s good! I just love the first book of the wonderfully multigenerational and humorous series by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians. It is an instant delight with drama, laughs, and insight into Singporean culture, especially the rich!
When you have bad NYC slice pizza (or rather, it isn’t to your preference), a romance is still fun to read!
If you are…Pizza e fichi!
Atypically, this pizza is "white" with mozzarella, olive oil, figs, and sometimes rosemary leaves. I also tried this in Naples, the birthplace of modern pizza. It is a pizza that may raise a few eyebrows, but I find it delicious with a burst of sweet, tart, and savory. I was going to say this was romance because it is a romantic-sounding pizza, but I find it unusual too. It is certainly a uniquely delicious pizza.
If you choose this pizza, you are Narrative Nonfiction!
Narrative nonfiction is perfect for people who may want to read from real life yet are worried of being bored. Often as the genre reads like a novel. Many nonfiction narratives are powerful, with themes that needed more awareness. I just finished rereading Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, which details the horrors of slavery. It is a heartbreaking and cathartic read that is still being uncovered today.
If you choose…the Spinnocoli pie!
This is a spinach and broccoli pizza with lots of garlic, the favorite of one of my colleagues, who lived on it in college days. I never tried it, but it sounds like a pizza pie I need to have! I love veggies, especially spinach and broccoli, so this is my kind of pie! If anyone feels guilty for wanting pizza, look no further!
If you choose this pizza, you are either Speech or Drama!
It is such a unique pizza with flairs of the dramatic. I recommend either the collected plays by Zora Neale Hurston, who is a revolutionary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, or the speeches of William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar (my personal favorite is Mark Antony’s "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech - ).
When you find you are…Hawaiian Pizza!
People fight about this pizza, but I personally enjoy it. The sweetness and bite from the pineapple goes well with the ham. I personally prefer the pizza to be a white pizza with fresh pineapple and prosciutto crudo. However, to each their own. It is a pizza I’m never mad at.
If you choose this pizza, you are Young Adult!
Like Hawaiian Pizza, Young Adult books tend to have their own niche, with plenty of people not understanding the genre. Many Young Adult books boldly express important themes like race and gender issues. There is a transporting quality in them that I enjoy - this pure form of scampish with intense emotions. Plus, I find Young Adult books to be a bit more diverse then many adult books! The book I recommend is Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker, which openly discusses gender expression in a sensitive way.
If you are…a Pizza cake!
Who says you can’t have your pizza and eat cake too? A pizza cake is perfect for people who don’t want a dessert for their birthday and are obsessed with pizza. Maybe you just want more pizza, and that’s perfectly fine! You can play around with this pizza. It was first invented by Boston Pizza, a Canadian family restaurant and sports bar, back in April 2014.
If you chose this pizza, you are Children’s Books!
It is the perfect pizza for children and the young at heart! Plus, like Young Adult, children’s books tend to be so multilayered, with an openness to important issues. My personal favorite is Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. The book has so many themes, but I love how it discusses the importance of learning and being engaged with the world as well as the worlds of others. It is such a powerful book!
If you are…a Pear and Pancetta Pizza!
Now this is my guilty pleasure! I usually have this pizza with either bleu cheese or brie! It isn’t as sweet as you think; it really depends on the cheese to make the flavors work, and when they do…pure deliciousness! I recommend adding some spicy pepper to combine all kinds of flavors. It is, in many ways, a decadent pizza.
If you chose this pizza, and because this is my favorite, you are Folklore! You are the studies and the tales, the folk music and the anthropology, all the subdivisions! Due to the combination of different flavors - ranging from sweet to salty - this pizza is as expressive as the many cultures of the world! There are so many I can recommend. One of my favorite books is Marilyn Jurich’s Scheherazade's Sisters: Trickster Heroines and their Stories in World Literature, which details the myths, history, psychology, and anthology of the trickster - the female trickster. It is a powerful discourse of women’s studies in world literature!
As much as I want to continue, there are so many books and so many genres as well as so many pizzas! Let us know what genre you are based on the pizzas you choose from this post - or on your own! Happy Reading and Eating!