The Pizza Berlusconi battle: How Finland beat Italy at pizza
When Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi mocked Finnish food, the Finnish pizza restaurant Kotipizza responded by creating the Pizza Berlusconi, which went on to beat the Italian Americans in an international pizza contest.
The good people of Finland don’t mind a bit of ribbing and gentle jokes from the international community. All those cold winters have given Finns very thick skin. That being said, Finns can give as good as they get, something the world learned about in 2005.
It all started when Silvio Berlusconi, the then Italian prime minister, suggested that he charmed Finland’s president at the time Tarja Halonen with his “playboy skills” into basing the EU’s food standards agency in Italy. Finland was not amused, and hundreds emailed national newspapers to call out his sexist remarks and display anger over Berlusconi’s jokes about Finnish food. You see, on top of offending the president, he also stated that he had to “endure” Finnish cuisine like “marinated reindeer.”
First of all – rude! Secondly, the Finnish cuisine is fantastic and even served in luxury hotels and restaurants.
Many people love Finnish cuisine, including the staff of Finland’s famous Kotipizza, the largest pizza restaurant chain in the Nordic countries. So in 2008, three years after Berlusconi’s unmitigated attack on Finnish culture, the Kotipizza staff got to work creating the most Finnish pizza of all time – the Pizza Berlusconi.
The pizza consists of famous Finnish food such as smoked reindeer, tomato, cheese, Finnish chanterelle mushrooms and red onion. That same year, Finland served Berlusconi a thick slice of revenge when their very Finnish pizza beat the Italian Americans in New York’s international pizza contest.
As it turns out, the Italians did not take this well. They insisted that Kotipizza remove the Pizza Berlusconi from its menu as they were advertising with their prime minister’s name.
But the CEO of Kotipizza refused, and instead invited Berlusconi to Finland to talk about it. He never did.
However, in 2011, Berlusconi did show some humility after a Finnish dinner in Helsinki. There, he told journalists that the dinner had been of exceptionally high quality, and reportedly enjoyed a reindeer fillet, salmon sandwiches and a warm chocolate tart.
But Silvio Berlusconi is not the only one who’s come around to Finnish food. There are many health benefits of traditional Finnish dishes, and the purest food comes from Finland. Because of this, more and more people are adopting the Nordic diet, which may put years on your life.
So if you’ve never tried Finnish cuisine, we strongly suggest giving it a go.