If you have been raised in northern New England or spent any appreciable amount of time there, you recognize what I am approximate to tell you: Beach pizza is a thing of local lore. There is some debate amongst humans in my place of birth — Newburyport, Massachusetts, a coastal town tucked between Boston and the New Hampshire border — approximately whether or not I, a person born in New York and raised in New England, should be allowed to identify as a Bay Stater. But whilst the verbal exchange turns to pizza, my provenance turns into clean. I’m from New England. If I had been now not, I would now not have a horse on this pizza race.
In the prolonged annals of pizzadom, New England beach pizza is little extra than a blip at the carbohydrate radar; a gourmand would possibly deem seaside pizza objectively terrible. Cooked in sheet trays, it has a slightly perceptible crust, a fair much less distinguished dusting of cheese, and a very sweet sauce that owes its flavor profile to Prego. Hold a rectangular in your hand and you’ll be reminded, particularly nostalgically, of an Ellio’s slice. There are wafer-skinny crust and crunch, and your inevitable impatience to take a chomp out of it is going to be repaid with a burnt roof of the mouth, due to the fact looking ahead to flawlessly imperfect matters is hard. For an extra 50 cents, the pizzaiolos at Cristy’s and Tripoli Pizza Bakery, the 2 rival vendors who produce this species of pizza, will melt an additional disk of provolone onto your slice. This isn’t always exquisite pizza. And yet, somehow, it’s miles.
It’s greater than nostalgia that actions us. Scarcity could make a food sense sacred, as though it exists most effective in it’s local domestic and our recollections. That’s the case with seaside pizza. Anywhere else, it might be mediocre; right here, at the slip of Atlantic in which Massachusetts and New Hampshire share a border, this pizza evokes devotion, perhaps even love. Nearly anyone from my homeland has a favorite, whether it’s Cristy’s or Tripoli, and switching pizza loyalties is tantamount to rooting for the Yankees, or to enunciating your consonants.
The factor approximately ingredients that are best available in a single vicinity — in this situation, northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire — is that they end up part of the surroundings. Food burrows into our lives insert itself into our fondest memories. It connects us to the humans we’ve lost and to the candy, salty, and bitter pieces of our personal records. Does food want to be epic to ground us in a particular second in time? It does not. That’s why, once I think about home and its culinary riches, I pass New England staples like steamed lobster served with drawn butter, fried entire-stomach clams, and, of direction, chowder. The taste I pine for maximum is seashore pizza.
Beach pizza originated nowhere close to the seashore. Its roots are 20 miles inland, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a vintage mill town bisected by means of the Merrimack River, where the Sicilian bakery Tripoli started out baking cannoli and other pastries inside the early 1920s. Lawrence had just emerged, damaged, from the Bread and Roses strike of 1912, a reaction to dangerous working conditions at the textile turbines, and locals absolute confidence wanted something happier to reflect consideration on. Following this infamous hard work strike, Tripoli and its cannoli supplied a good deal-needed comfort to a depleted metropolis. In 1944, Tripoli improved their repertoire, including sheet-tray pizza to the menu. The commercial enterprise grew from there, spreading to neighboring North Andover and Methuen earlier than eventually migrating north to the beach cities: Salisbury, Massachusetts, and Seabrook, New Hampshire.