Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Now we know: Answering the foodie questions you didn’t know you had
Philip Dennhardt: ‘Every Italian I talk to is very against it. The Italians feel like they own the pizza – it’s theirs.’ Photograph: Getty
Among our most divisive food ingredients and pairings lies in the humble Hawaiian pizza. To some, the cheese, ham and pineapple combo is tropical fun, an outlet for the joyful battle of sweet vs savoury. To others, it’s an affront to the refined tastebuds of an experienced pizza lover.
Like many ubiquitous foods, its origins are hard to trace. Some put weight in the Greek-Canadian Sam Panopoulos’ claim to having been the inventor, first serving it in his restaurant in Ontario in 1962. But the combination of ham and pineapple has appeared elsewhere, such as in the German speciality known as Hawaiian Toast. Wherever it comes from, does it belong on a pizza?
In need of an expert opinion, I call Philip Dennhardt. A former butcher from Germany, he now hosts Saturday Pizza, a weekly pop-up pizzeria in Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co Cork. Since opening over a decade ago, Dennhardt has created a range of high-quality frozen pizzas, and last year co-authored a cookbook with food writer Kristin Jensen called Saturday Pizzas from The Ballymaloe Cookery School.
“When Kristin and I wrote the book,” he says, “we didn’t even mention pineapple. It is so controversial. Some people love it. They think it’s the best thing ever. But every Italian I talk to is very against it. The Italians feel like they own the pizza – it’s theirs. So if there’s a pizza that’s Hawaiian, well, then that’s not theirs. There isn’t a protection over their ownership.”
Dennhardt has put Hawaiian pizza on the Saturday Pizza menu a few times but he found not many people choose it. However, the pizzeria created its own take on the classic in the form of salty ham, gouda cheese and sweet maple syrup. For those who love pineapples on their homemade pizza, Dennhardt has a top tip: Fry the pineapple in butter before adding to the pizza to retain the pineapple’s moisture, thus avoiding a soggy pizza base.
“I think putting pineapple on pizza is fun,” says Dennhardt. It’s certainly a conversation starter.
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