If you order pepperoni pizza in Italy you get vegetables. This I learned in Trieste, the port city where Joyce started Dubliners and finished Portrait and my great great grandparents left Slovenia for Cleveland, of all places.
“Times must have been tough,” my brother Josh later remarked on the subject with his toes in Lake Bled.
Presently we were watching the sun set over the Adriatic, Trieste’s Piazza della Borsa at our backs. We sat cross legged on the Molo Audace over a greasy pizza box. The pizza had
“Salami,” Josh said.
“You have to order salami.”
Salami, which is the plural form of the Italian salame, is a cured sausage and its name comes from the Latin verb salare, which means “to salt”. Pepperoni, like salami, is a fermented food and its name likely derives from its seasonings. Pepperoni, or peperoni, is the Italian plural for pepper. Pepper the vegetable. Pepperoni as we know it is an entirely Italian American invention. It’s immigrant food. About as American as it gets.
My family has always been a pepperoni pizza family, pepperoni the meat, and I like to think it’s because we’re from Ohio. My Mom’s side has a farm in the Columbus area and some of my earliest memories begin with tractor rides and end with take-out pizza: square cut, thin crust, bright, sweet, slightly piquant sauce. And pepperoni that curl and rust. We’d eat from the box at the kitchen table, as opposed to the fancy dining room, and I’d dribble sauce on carpet from the Nixon years. It was the carpet of your nightmares.
In northern New England it can be difficult tracking down this vibrant, spicy-sweet marriage of sauce and charred pepperoni. That’s why I’m thrilled to put Ezzo pepperoni on all my pizzas. It’s a little Columbus right here in Lewiston.
I think it matters.