DAILY DIRT: The good, bad and ugly of pizza toppings — plus the really, really ugly


Daily Dirt for Wednesday, July 19, 2023

By the way, I have never met anyone who had pickles on their pizza … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 669 of The Daily Dirt.

1. We’re a fickle bunch, especially when it comes to our pizza.

Or, more precisely, our pizza toppings.

I would guess just about every living, breathing human has a list of preferences for his or her pizza. And rarely will we waver much on those choices.

Me? I’d classify myself as a traditionalist. You’ll always find mushrooms and pepperoni on my pies, possibly with any sort of combinations of (finely-ground) sausage, onions, pineapple and maybe an occasional green pepper. And on certain days, I prefer light cheese, which is a relatively new addition to the Stevie Dirt menu, thanks to son Geoff.

Calculating what will make up the proper list of toppings is an acquired taste — no pun intended. For those interested, here are my suggestions for “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” of pizza toppings. (And, yes, that title comes with apologies to Clint Eastwood.)

The Good (you can’t go wrong with these)

Pepperoni: How could any other pizza topping take the top spot? Pepperoni is literally the most classic and popular of all pizza additions. There’s nothing better than seeing those perfect red circles get a little crispy at the edges. How is it that just one meat can compliment an entire dish so perfectly? Pepperoni has that kind of magic, and it’s why it will always be the king of pizza toppings.

Mushrooms: Some feel the mushrooms do not add much in the flavor department, but they add a great versatility to whatever the top part of the pie’s combination might be. The “earthy” taste of mushrooms compliment the acidity and richness of the pizza. 

Finely ground sausage (mild):Some people can’t handle too much heat, and that’s where the mild sausage comes in as a pizza topping. While it still delivers a lot of flavor and a nice meaty punch, mild sausage downplays the spicier aspects of other ingredients in exchange for a focus on the more sweet aspects of a good sausage.

Onions: Sure, they make your breath smell terrible, but onions on a pizza can be downright delicious. “Onions do something magical when they are cooked on top of a pizza,” according to recipe.com.

Pineapple: It’s all about balancing flavors. You get the salty richness of mozzarella and the warmer, savory flavor of tomato sauce, but also the bright, sweet, and slightly acidic flavor of the pineapple. “It may not be your favorite, but pineapple on pizza has more going on in the flavor department than other popular ingredients,” writes food critic Colin Leggett.

The Bad (some of these may be questionable, and/or would be better if used only on occasion)

Ground beef: There’s really no need for this if you are utilizing sausage. If you’re skipping the sausage on a given night, feel free to bring on the ground beef.

Bacon: About once a year I don’t mind a little bacon, but overall it’s better off on a burger or enhancing an order of scrambled eggs.

Ham: The same goes for bacon’s cousin.

Green peppers: Once in a while is OK, but in moderation. Not only do they add a nice burst of color to the pie, but they also maintain their texture after cooking.

The Ugly (never in a million years)

Black olives, green olives or any other color: Nothing can ruin a pizza faster than some of these toxic little things.

Broccoli: I love broccoli, but it has no place on z pizza. Much like artificial turf on a baseball field.

Spinach: Seriously?

Anchovies: These things cash in the daily double of bad taste and bad looks.

Tomatoes: Why would you need tomatoes when you have tomato sauce already on the pie?

Chicken: Anything that once had wings should not permitted on a pizza.

Jalapeno peppers: If you prefer Mexican cuisine, just get Mexican cuisine.

Barbecue sauce: Ugh.

The really, really ugly

Eggs: This choice is popular in parts of Europe, but I’m not sure why.

Pancetta: Despite being a pizza topping in Italy for centuries, U.S. pizza eaters are only just recently began discovering pancetta. This salt-cured meat comes from a pig’s belly, just as bacon does. Uhh … nope.

Prosciutto: Prosciutto comes from a pig’s leg, like ham. And that’s where it should stay.

Pickles: This topping just seems ridiculous.

2. Fun fact

Roughly 45 billion disposable chopsticks are used in China each year. It’s unknown how many of those are used to eat pizza.

3. This week’s happy birthday wishes are sent to:

  • Singer/songwriter Cat Stevens, who will be 75 on Friday. The first Cat Stevens album I bought was “Teaser and the Firecat” in 1971.
  • Singer/songwriter Don Henley of the Eagles, who turns 76 on Saturday. I’ve never bought an Eagles release, thanks to my distaste for “Hotel California.”
  • Actor Woody Harrelson, who will be 62 on Sunday. His best days were as part of the “Cheers” cast.
  • Former MLB standout Barry Bonds, who will be 59 on Monday. He’ll never be in the hall of fame in our lifetimes.
  • Actress Sandra Bullock, who turns 59 on July 26. One of my all-time faves.

Steve Thought O’ The Day — How is it possible to eat anything with chopsticks? And why would you want to, if there is a fork on the same table?

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. How is it possible he thinks pineapple on pizza is good and Hotel California is bad?

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