“I’d like to be able to say that I’ve no idea how many Pizza Express pizzas I’ve eaten – but that would be a lie. Unlike all those burgers, kebabs, chicken drumsticks, chips and sandwiches, which, when I try to focus on them as individual taste experiences, are subsumed to the great undifferentiated mass of comestibles, the Pizza Express pizza has an eerie precision about it. This could be due to geometry alone: even a mathematical ignoramus such as me can calculate the area of a 12-inch pizza to be 3.14159 (6 x 6) = 113.09724 square inches. And while that seems a preposterous size for a disc of unleavened bread topped with melted cheese and tomato purée, the very fact that no matter which one of the chain’s 370 branches you sit down in, you can guarantee being served with substantially the same 113.09724 square inches, tends my mind ineluctably towards further quantifications.
“Every fortnight between 1997 and 2007, I would take my younger children to have supper with my older children at the Pizza Express in Shepherd’s Bush. But those 250 pizzas are only the baseline around which the rest of my statistical analysis proceeds. I can assert that at least another 250 pizzas were consumed during that period at extempore family meals out and even gatherings when nominally ‘adult’ friends said, ‘Why don’t we just have a pizza?’ in response to the bewildering array of foodstuff choice.
“Then there’s the outliers. I began eating at Pizza Express with some regularity in the mid-1980s and still eat there to this day – that’s another 14 years during which an estimate of a pizza a month is conservative. So, 668 pizzas consumed by me alone, but if I add in the pizzas I’ve bought for my four children during the core period (1,000); the pizzas I bought for the older children between 1994 (when my son was four and my daughter two) and 1997 (150); then the pizzas since the regular Shepherd’s Bush visitations ceased (approximately 75), we have a total of 1,893.”
Read the rest of the Real Meals column at the New Statesman.