Video Credit: Sonia Shah

Ask a Frenchman to compare duck à l'orange to English fish and chips, with a side of mushy peas, and the Gaul is unlikely to side with battered cod.

Similarly, offer a colleague from Kerala a kibbeh and the chances are, they’ll quickly reach for the spice.

Food is a great unifier and equaliser but it is also a subject of strong passion and opinions. But who truly knows their tabbouleh from their tarte tatin and what nationality trumps their cross-border competitors on epicurean expertise?

To test our participants’ culinary know-how, we turned to pizza. While the Italians, or more specifically the Neapolitans, like to take credit for the modern pizza, bread topped with oils, herbs and cheese dates back to Ancient Greece.

Regardless of its geographical origins, pizza has long since outgrown the streets of Naples and the islands of Ancient Greece. In fact, according to Euromonitor International, the global pizza market is worth more than $154.8 billion.

With this armament of pizza-related trivia in mind, we enlisted four well-travelled volunteers from different countries – France, Egypt/Canada, Philippines and India to be precise - to take the Gulf News global pizza challenge.

All our unsuspecting recruits knew was that they are going to be trying pizza, they would be blindfolded, and they would have to guess which country it’s inspired from – in the name of national and personal gastronomic pride.

Our volunteers were asked to sample a range of pizzas from a recently launched UAE pizza brand, including pies inspired by their home countries.

Weirdough's Idukki Gold Kerala Beef Pizza
Weirdough's Idukki Gold Kerala Beef Pizza Image Credit: Supplied

Straight out of the blocks, our Canadian Arab participant identified the Indian-inspired Idukki Gold, Kerala beef pizza in seconds.

The blackened beef, curry sauce, curry leaves, roasted coconut, green chili and pickled onions gave the game away instantly but, curiously, she was stumped by the Mashakkel, Arabic Pizza, topped with tomato, tahini and falafel.

Our contestant from the birthplace of haute cuisine erroneously identified octopus on the Seafood Filipino Pizza instead of shrimp, bringing shame upon his rich French culinary heritage.

Weirdough pizza Gulf News blindfold challenge

Unsurprisingly our Indian participant easily guessed the coriander and chili garnished Butter Chicken pie and our man flying the flag for the Philippines adroitly singled out the French-inspired Truffle Mushroom Pizza, slickly segueing from a somewhat spurious detour to Rome, via carbonara.

Universally, the Mexican Mariachi pizza - loaded with guacamole, black beans and minced beef - proved a fiery hit due to its smatterings of jalapeno heat.

While pizza may not be the most scientifically stringent methodology for unearthing the nation with the broadest depth of culinary comprehension, it does prove that cheesy pies can be an adaptable and enjoyable way of sharing our cultural flavours, especially if we’re missing that special taste of home.

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