The Great Colombian Pizza Mystery

Pizza does not look like this in Colombia.

Today I attempted to uncover the great Colombian pizza mystery. For those of you who don’t know what this is, I’m referring to the criminal under-using of tomato sauce on Colombian “pizzas.” It went something like this: I go into my neighborhood pizza shop and order a slice of chicken and mushroom pizza; because the guy is young and cute (and I’m young and cute) I thought maybe he’d be able to give me some answers. So I approach him while he’s making a pizza and the following ensues:

Me: So is tomato sauce expensive or something here?

Him: What is it, my love? (Things going well to this point)

Me: Well, I’ve noticed pizza places here don’t put much tomato sauce on their pizzas. So I thought maybe it’s really expensive here.

Him: This is not tomato sauce.

Me: What is it?

Him: Tomato paste. Tomato sauce is what you put on hamburgers. This is much more potent and highly concentrated than tomato sauce. You only need a little.

Me: Well, I’m just asking because in the United States, restaurants usually put a lot of tomato sauce on their pizza.

Him: Tomato sauce is what you put on hamburgers. This is much more potent and highly concentrated than tomato sauce. You only need a little.

Me: Yes, I meant TOMOTO PASTE. I’m just used to eating pizza with more TOMATO PASTE.

Him: Well, m’am, too much TOMATO PASTE can cause an upset stomach, gastritis (no idea what this is in English but everyone in Colombia suffers from this) and other problems. It’s too heavy.

In the end, he refused to acknowledge that maybe Colombian pizzas could use a little extra tomato sauce/paste. And I left the shop apologizing for daring to question his pizza preparation skills.

That’s what I’ve discovered so far. I’ll keep you updated. I can’t wait to go home and eat real pizza, dripping with tomato sauce and cheese.

Categories: Bogota, Colombia, Colombian culture, Colombian Food, Uncategorized

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8 replies

  1. Oh man, pizza here is just the pits. Sooo disappointing, always. Pizza the way it´s supposed to be is so VASTLY superior to what they “think” pizza is, that it just drives me crazy. Because if they were to try real pizza, they wouldn´t like it and would prefer what they´re used to. Which is fine, just don´t call it pizza! Of course, they would defensively ask, who am I to say what pizza is? Um… go to Italy. They will not recognize your version of pizza. I know this rant is not very culturally sensitive and respectful, but I believe that every culture has features that are better and worse than others. And pizza is just not Colombia´s strong point. But I also believe that people have the right to eat whatever they want, however they want, and… sigh… they can call it whatever they want, too :p

    • Well, You are right I tried the “real pizza” (US pizza if that is what you are saying) and nop I don’t like it. But I understand your frustration. I love and miss my Colombian pizza and whatever they sell in here (The US) is just not for me. I have had your same rant but the other way around! When it comes to food, I am definitely learning how to be more open-minded. Enjoy that cheesy sauceless pizza for me though 🙂

  2. Um… have you tried italian pizza?? It also lacks the ridiculous amounts of tomato sauce that characterizes pizza in the US. I’m not saying colombian pizza is the best or anything, but american pizza isnt’ exactly faithful to italian pizza…

  3. Dear ? (I didn’t get your name)

    U.S. restaurant providers offer Tomato Paste, Tomato Sauce, Pasta Sauce and Pizza Sauce, which in its finest version includes the following ingredients: Tomato Puree, Vine-Ripened Plum Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Basil, Natural Flavor, Oregano, Fennel, Red Chili Pepper, Citric Acid (Naturally Derived).

    On the other hand, that Pizza Sauce is not in the market in Colombia; therefore, they all use house made combinations of Tomato Paste, Tomato Sauce and Pasta Sauce. Some of them combine them very well adding seasoning and chicken broth; some others, on the other hand, have no idea about the texture and seasoning required to offer Tuscan, New Yorking, Toronto’s or Chicago’s variations of Pizza!

    Street grade pizza makers in Colombia are mostly clueless about these details. The first american style pizzeria in Colombia was John`s or Jonny’s Pizza located at the small shopping area next to Ecopetrol building on Avenida 13. Pizza Nostra (already out of business) and Jeno’s Pizza (almost out of b.) were the leading pizza chains. Both of the chains and others used to make their own sauces since imported sauces were under tariff during the 80’s and part of 90’s.

    Currently, the best pizzeria chain would be Archie`s, which also makes its own sauce, pretty similar to what you have been missing! But try another one by the Avenida Jimenez and Carrera 7a next to Universidad del Rosario, it is a non fancy yet traditional authentic italian old style restaurant (I forgot the name and asking for pizza would be an oddity but they still serve it).

    So, the guy was right! Tomato Paste would get you stomach upset. He just doesn’t know what kind of Sauce you are talking about!

  4. This is hilarious. So as a Colombian living in the US I constantly complain about the pizza quality in here, and the large amount of sauce …or “paste” that they put in it. I always ask for light sauce, I was so disappointed that I even learn to make my own pizza (Colombian style) at home. I know of many Colombians who hate the USA pizza style. LOL cultural differences are so interesting, I have used the same words you use but to refer to US pizza. I couldn’t think of someone who would miss this sauce dripping dish, but there you have it…and I miss my pizza with little sauce and tons of cheese 😦
    The “sauce” and “paste” thing! gosh I could tell you stories with my initial confusion with those words. And the gastritis comment, on point! Made my day.
    This just shows that the saying that other cultures are not better or worse they are just different is true…one man’s paradise is another man’s hell.

  5. I don’t like pizza with pineapple in the U.S. I like it in Colombia. On the other hand I don’t like pepperoni pizza in Colombia. I like in the U.S.

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