JUSTIN MARTIN TALKS PIZZA
Justin Martin loves madcap music, but he also loves his pizza, so when he met fellow pizza lover and R$N's Obscurity Correspondent, Mike Boorman, this is what happened. Keep reading to see Justin's views on pizza faux pas, how pizza has officially become a vegetable, and what a Barry White pizza consists of.
MB: What is that excites you about pizza?
JM: There are so many dimensions to pizza that excite me. The word pizza goes hand in hand with the word party. Eating pizza in general, especially in America is a very social thing you don't just go and sit in a pizza parlour by yourself. In general if you're getting a pizza, you're getting a pie, and you're not having all that pie to yourself. It's a very social, errrm, foodgroup! You know that pizza in America is now a vegetable?
JM: Look it up! I don't know how they got away with this.
MB: Is it to do with tax?
JM: I think it's something to do with school lunches, so there was this new legislation that said kids' lunches had to be from certain foodgroups so they would be healthy, but they didn't want to cut pizza, so they classified pizza as a vegetable!
MB: That's fucking brilliant.
JM: So anyway, I fell in love with pizza from a very young age. As a family, once a week, we would go out for pizza after we went to church. There were a few different places we went to where I grew up in Connecticut – there was this place called Dino's that was kind of a Sicillian pizza with more of a thicker crust that would be fried in a square pan, and that pizza is amazing the next day… in fact it's my favourite pizza to have for leftovers. There was also this place in Newhaven called Peppe's, which is some of the best pizza in the world… it was a treat if we ever got to go there… it's actually called Newhaven-style pizza… it's like a really thin-style crust, even more thin than a Neapolitan or New York and this place would have a line down the block, every single day of the week. Imagine that when you're a kid, that build up! After I left home I went to college in New York and the pizza there…
MB: New York is my favourite style…
JM: Arguably the best in the world. NYC has amazing pizza even if you're just going to get a slice at Ray's or something, or you're going to Brooklyn to get a proper Neapolitan, it's just amazing. I kind of took it for granted at that stage of my life – I still don't think at that point I realised just how much I loved pizza, but it wasn't concrete in my brain that I can't do without good pizza. But once I moved to San Francisco, pizza just wasn't so abundant – I had to work hard to hunt down some really good pizza spots… that was when I really started to realise how much I loved pizza. So it's become this really big thing… I've found my friends over there that love pizza as well with social networking… you start chatting online, and suddenly people start bringing me pizza to my gigs!
MB: Ideal DJ food – you don't need cutlery!
JM: Also, at the same time [as moving to San Francisco], my parents retired and moved away to Maui, and my Dad got really really into cooking, and one of his specialities is pizza. It brings me back to childhood, that family-style gathering.
MB: It's a very good point you make there. I'll never forget the first time I saw Home Alone, where there's that big family gathering and they're all eating pizza… it just looked like the best thing ever. At that moment I really wanted to be in that family, even with the likes of Buzz and Fuller in it… to see them all just piling in… to me that was an aspiration!
JM: Ha ha ha, that's awesome.
MB: And it was delivered. That was a massive deal. Whenever that film was out 1990 was it? [Ed: yes it was] unless you were in a town or city, pizza places wouldn't deliver in England back then… it just seemed like such an alien world. Then when I got older I started making them, in fact, when I was at college, I used to sell them in my Halls of Residence – they became legendary.
JM: No wonder we get on!
MB: People used to come in my kitchen at the end of nights out, most weekends. I felt like a bit of a sell out though, because they would be very much in the New York style, and yet my mother is Italian!
JM: But the New York-style came from the Italian-style; it got a little bit thinner, the slices became bigger
MB: No doubt Italian Americans played a big part, yes, but rather like what we consider to be Bolognese sauce, it's quite a lot different to what you will find in Bologna, which hardly has any meat in at all compared to what we'd put into it, and is more what we'd refer to as a Ragu. Food historians reckon it was because Italians could afford more meat once they got over to America, so they just caned it and re-defined the recipe in order to show off that they could afford it – I wonder whether that's a factor with pizza? But the key difference for me is the cheese; so in Italy you'll tend to see the white, milky Buffalo mozzarella, but America and the UK use quite cheesy-tasting mozzarella… they call it Danish mozzarella in the supermarkets over here… so I assume you prefer the cheesier style?
JM: It just depends. That's one of the beautiful things about pizza – there's no way that's completely right. You can throw anything on it and if that makes you happy, that's good. It's not like 'okay, this is a pizza, but if you put this topping on it, it's not a pizza' – there are infinite possibilities to what you can do with a pizza, and it's all about custom-building it to your preference.
MB: It's like synthesisers – an infinite art form…
JM: 'I'll have some spicy sausage on my synthesiser please'!
MB: Hahahaha. So do you think you can judge people by the kind of pizza they like?
JM: That's a good question hmmmm not sure for me, personally, I don't have my set pizza that I like. My favourite toppings would have to be sausage and onion and a nice, juicy tomato sauce, but I like the white clam pizzas I'll even sometimes throw some broccoli on there
JM: Yeah, I posted a picture on Instagram of one with broccoli, and there were loads of people saying 'you can't do that, you cant do that!' My girlfriend likes to put Ketchup on a pizza
MB: Oh no!
JM: But I guess I can't judge her for that. I can't believe your reaction!
MB: Well it's another childhood memory the ying and the yang of the Home Alone pizza I remember being on a family holiday in Crete, ordering a pizza and biting into it, and under the cheese it was not normal tomato sauce, but Ketchup! Fucking covert Ketchup!
JM: Oh my God, that's gross. That's insane. I don't like it anywhere near me on the table actually; I ask my girlfriend to go to the bathroom or something to put it on
MB: It absolutely stinks! The UK seems to have it on everything.
JM: Yeah – just because it's the same colour as the tomato sauce on a pizza, it doesn't mean it's going to taste nice. But as I said, if there's someone out there that finds that to be delicious, then I can't judge.
MB: Are there any other faux pas with pizza that you can think of?
JM: Yeah, actually, when everyone says they're full and a waiter comes over to take away your pizza, you should tell him 'no, wrap it up' good pizza should always come home! I love cold pizza the next day, and you know what? One of the tests of a good pizza is how good it tastes the next day how well do the toppings hold up after a night in the fridge? If the cheese isn't like cardboard then it's a good sign.
MB: And while we're on toppings, should fish be allowed on a pizza?
JM: I would say yes. A lot of people stick by the rule that fish and cheese don't belong together I disagree. But I'm open-minded probably the most creative pizza I ever had was this pizza at a festival I was at up in Northern California, and it was called The Barry White! It had strawberries, garlic, some kind of white sauce and cheese I just thought it was brilliant for the name alone it didn't have tomato sauce but the strawberries balanced it out and added this sweet, juicy element that was one of the most interesting pizzas I had.
MB: Should pizza have a capital letter?
JM: Yes! All of them should be in capitals! [Ed: It should in fact not have a capital letter, because it is a common noun, and common nouns never have capital letters, but granted, it's a tricky one]
MB: Any final thoughts?
JM: Everything that pizza represents is good, not to mention it's a vegetable, so it must be healthy!
Interview: Mike Boorman (follow him on twitter here)