This is how Hawaiian pizza was invented: one of the most important creations in the history of gastronomy
Capable of stirring up both passions and hatred, the pineapple pizza has little of the Hawaiian. Created by chance by a Greek immigrant living in Canada, it is today one of the most beloved dishes of the American country, and the rest of the world has much to thank him for. Because enjoying a good pizza with pineapple without shame is a declaration of principles.
As much as the president of Iceland almost created an international crisis by stating that he would ban it if he could, Hawaiian pizza continues to roam freely on menus and cookbooks around the world. The combination of ingredients works and is liked, and it is time to overcome the eternal debate between its defenders and detractors. But let's travel back a bit to honor his birth.
The Greek origin of a Canadian pizza
Migratory movements have defined a large part of our gastronomic cultures, although we strive to associate dishes and recipes with supposed microcosms isolated from the rest of the world. Without immigration, with its exchanges of ingredients, techniques and knowledge, it would be impossible to understand how we eat today, and globalization has undoubtedly broken culinary boundaries even further.
This mix of influences has left a very evident mark on the cuisine of the American continent, especially in northern countries. If the United States has created its own culinary identity from scraps of many traditions from around the world, Canada is not far behind either.
Greek immigration changed the Canadian gastronomic landscape
Since the middle of the 20th century, the country of maple has received more than 100,000 Greek immigrants who ventured to open their own businesses, many of them hoteliers. The funny thing is that since the end of the sixties the vast majority opted for a local model between diner and a pizzeria that would spawn some of the most popular franchises in the country.
But it was a young man named Sam Panopoulos who would by chance sign one of the most iconic dishes in world gastronomy. Born in Greece, Panopoulos arrived in Canada with his family in 1954, but not before making a lucky stop in Naples, where he first encountered pizza. Already on American soil, he began to work in various locations in the Windsor-Detroit region, on the border with the United States.
In the early 1950s, pizza was practically unknown to Canadians. According to Panopoulos himself, you had to cross to Detroit to test it, and from there it jumped to the neighboring country with the first timid incursions. As stated in the book 'Signature dishes that matter', at that time pizza was seen as "ethnic food", an exoticism unknown to the local palate.
Panopoulos began combining Canadian dishes with Chinese cuisine and pizzas
It was shortly after that Sam Panopoulos opened with his brother the diner Satellite Restaurant, in the town of Chatham (Ontario). Motivated to get out of the monotony of the classic menu of these types of places, he hired an Asian chef to start playing with Chinese-inspired dishes and introduce new flavors to the boring taste of his clientele. Pizza was the next step.
Early Canadian pizzas were very "primitive, not bad, but nothing special." They were typically only served with canned mushrooms, cheese, bacon, or pepperoni. Panopoulos wanted to try new combinations and ingredients, and so he began to experiment with almost anything until he found formulas that worked.
Canada lacked a pizza tradition entirely, and that worked in its favor: there were no rules to break and no experts to offend.
By then tiki it had created something of a phenomenon in the United States, to which its neighbors were not immune. Hawaii became an official state in 1952 and a kind of sun and beach paradise myth arose around its culture, materializing in the form of recipes and cocktails. Canned tropical fruit, particularly pineapple, invaded the pantries of half the planet.
And so, one fine day in 1962, Sam Panopoulos came up with the idea of introducing the bittersweet concept, so typical of Chinese cuisine, to his pizza. He opened a can of pineapple in syrup, drained it well, and spread it over the tomato, cheese, and ham dough. And he found that it worked deliciously well; He baptized it with the name of the packaged fruit brand and the rest is history.