Victoria and I both live in New York City, which has recently elected a new Mayor, Bill de Blasio. Though he hails from Boston, he has made his life in Brooklyn for the past many years, and as such credited with the beloved title “New Yorker.”
Until this happened.
What you see here is an image of our new mayor eating pizza with a fork. New York-style pizza. Pizza that comes in a slice, perfectly shaped for picking up and eating.
I will stress that eating pizza with your hands is specific to certain forms of pizza. Chicago deep dish would obviously be a disaster if you tried to pick it up, as would many Sicilian slices, and some that are far too thin and wobbly. But your average New York slice is engineered such that you can hold it by the crust, fold it in half a bit, and eat it with one hand. We’ve addressed this before. So why, may I ask, would someone use a knife and fork?
The answer, I believe, lies in the idea of affectation, the awkward and forced imitation of manners when one doesn’t know what to do. This involves things like sticking your pinky out when drinking tea. One person justified using a knife and fork because it is “civilized,” perhaps not realizing that refusing to eat something the way it was intended to be eaten is not “civilized,” but just makes you look weird.
Lest I be considered one of those arrogant New Yorkers who cannot understand why someone would choose to do something a different way than I was taught (disclaimer: I am), I have come across a few other reasonable explanations for why cutlery may be used with pizza. As a few have pointed out, if you don’t like getting your hands messy, it is a cleaner way to eat. That’s fine! I mean, you can (and should) wash your hands before and after, but whatever, to each her own. Perhaps you just had dental surgery, or are a small child, or your pizza arrived unsliced and this is the only way to really get at it. These are all fine. But when a food so clearly suggests the way it should be eaten, for goodness sake, follow suit.
Feel free to argue about oil blotting in the comments.
UPDATE: The new mayor MAY OR MAY NOT have eaten pizza with his hands. We may never know if this was staged or not, but that doesn’t make any of the above any less true.