Indian Pizza

The worst pizza I ever had was in Udaipur, India. It was at one of those rooftop backpacker cafes that will give anything a try, and to be fair, I’d actually had some pretty good pizzas along the road in Rajasthan.

But anyway, I was hungry and tired and I ordered a pizza. About a half-hour later, the guy comes out of the kitchen and says, “Sir! Sir! You want cheese on pizza?”

Oh, god.

“Yes,” I said. “A pizza has cheese.”

“OK, OK, OK!”

The man ran off, back into the kitchen, and I could only imagine what they must be preparing down there. Another half-hour later, he proudly presented his masterwork: a cold chapati, covered in some kind of sweet red chutney that didn’t involve tomatoes, with one slice of yellow American cheese carefully torn apart and scattered into an unmelted archipelago around the surface. It was like he’d come up with a recipe based entirely on having once seen a blurry magazine picture of a pizza.

I ate it. I was hungry. It was terrible.

Many years later, I told this story to an Indian colleague at Google who laughed and said, “You know, he didn’t have that cheese in his kitchen. He had to send his boy running all over town to get it for you.” Which makes it even sadder.