Pizza is one of the world’s truly global culinary traditions. What began as Italian peasant food became a hot, cheesy treat for working-class Americans, and before long, the rest of planet Earth.

Whether it’s the Japanese throwing practically all of their marine life on a hand-rolled crust, or feeding hungry protesters at the height of the Arab Spring, pizza enjoys a ubiquity that brings the best out of its creators.

With a nice, fat helping of cultural diaspora, the pizza phenomenon definitely took the world by storm. It’s whatever you want it to be, wherever you are. It’s a global culinary celebration on flatbread!

Filipinos have also taken a particular fondness to pizza, developing a cultural consciousness for it that mirrors that of the Americans, but reimagined through our own regional sensibilities.

A little taste of home

Seminal OPM band, Parokya ni Edgar seems to sum the peculiarity of the Philippine pizza experience into one playfully simple word—pichapie. The name isn’t just a tagalization of the dish, but a reflection of how far we’ve adopted these crusty discs. For whatever it’s worth, we even have local meme pages dedicated to the unassuming dish.

Really, we're not making this stuff up.

This isn't the first time we've taken a dish and made it our own. Like it or not, Filipinos definitely have a unique take on dishes like spaghetti for example. From the rich and robust character found in most Italian pastas, you’re now presented with a sweeter and infinitely more hotdog-laden experience compared to our friends out in the great boot of southern Europe.

Pizza’s Philippine makeover went a similar course. Eschewing the slight sourness of Italian-style sauce, and the mouthwatering presence of mozzarella cheese for sweetened spaghetti sauce and what we could only assume is a block of regular processed cheese.

The result is a cheaper (as if pizza wasn’t historically cheap enough to begin with), sweeter, and infinitely more peculiar take on the world’s favorite pie. This isn’t your Italian momma’s pizza. This is Filipino street innovation, right here.

Making your own pie-shaped impression

Thanks to picha pie’s relative accessibility, we have an incredibly flexible platform ready for culinary experimentation. I mean, they’re everywhere. You could be walking down the sketchiest neighborhoods in Manila and still find yourself between Mr. Mappy and Ellen’s Delicious Pizza.

Trust me, I’m in the middle of nowhere and I’m chewing through my second box of Pizza Talk’s pepperoni pizza. That’s two 12” pizzas for Php 150. Anyway, I digress. The culinary potential of democratized pizza is something to reckon with.

Just what do you do when you’re not into the sweet stuff? Sure, a pizza’s a pizza, but what do you do to love it more than you already do? Mod that sucker until it’s perfect. Think of how people salt and pepper their food to taste. Take the gloves off. This is about to get way too real.

You can do whatever you want, but here’s an official Karton-sanctioned take on hot-rodded picha pie!

Prepare the following:

For this experiment, we’re going to exploit one of modern pizza’s greatest talents – the ability to rise from the refrigerator and become a completely different dish once reheated. This gives us the ability to address two features that make picha pie feel cheap to some: the general sweetness, and the overall texture of the crust.

Here are some quick steps:

  1. Pre-heat your toaster oven.
  2. Sprinkle some chorizo on your pizza. Add more chorizo bits if you want everything a bit saltier.
  3. Add blue cheese to taste. They should be able to mix well with the chorizos on top of the existing cheese.
  4. Dab a bit of Susmaryosep’s Chili Sauce over the pizza. Make sure the pie is evenly covered. You’re only adding this in for a little extra kick, and to add more dimensions to the existing flavor profile.
  5. Place your pizza in the oven long enough for the cheese to melt. Take it out before the crust starts turning a darker brown though!

Actual results:

This is just one of the many ways you could take ownership of the wonder that is picha pie. Do you have any recipes or suggestions you’d like us to feature? Let us know at hello@karton.ph!

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