In 2005, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared that Finns ate only “marinated reindeer.” He also described the Finnish diet as something he “endured” on a visit to the Nordic nation. Finns responded to the diplomatic faux pas by creating an Italian dish in homage to Berlusconi. And what could be more Italian than pizza? Almost anything, at least compared to “Pizza Berlusconi.”
Kotipizza, based in Vaasa, Finland, created the prime minister’s namesake pizza. It originally featured a rye crust smothered in smoked reindeer, cheese, red onion, and chanterelle mushrooms. Three years after the politician publicly slandered Finland’s culinary heritage, Kotipizza won an international pizza contest held in New York City. Their entry of Pizza Berlusconi even beat Italy.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, called the pizza a “blood revenge” by the Finns. They praised it as innovative and delicious but speculated that it may not sit well with Berlusconi. The newspaper reported that Kotipizza was advertising its Berlusconi pizzas with headlines that read: “97-year-old grandmother bites into Berlusconi” and “Minister stabs Berlusconi with a fork.” The newspaper admitted that the Finns’ anger was justified, especially since Berlusconi’s gaffes reveal his cultural ignorance.