The A in AI stands for anchovies?

In which we merge two controversial topics: Generative AI and…anchovies on pizza??

Doing More With More header

I’m about to write probably the most controversial sentence I think on this blog in its decade-plus long history:

I like anchovies on pizza.

No, seriously, I do! But according to a 2023 YouGov survey, nearly 3 in 10 Americans definitively say that anchovies are their least favorite pizza topping. (The same survey said that only 2% of Americans preferred New Haven style apizza, which is clearly another conversation for another time!)

Lest you think I’ve departed from writing on tech matters and going full foodie on you, there is an actual tech angle to this. Presumably because anchovies on pizza is such a controversial thing, the number of pizzerias in the Twin Cities that offer this is not a lot. I’ve found a couple of places, but I’m still searching. I found a pizzeria in a grocery store – Pizzeria Pezzo in Kowalski’s Market in suburban Woodbury (and before you send me your letters, I wasn’t compensated for this pizza or paid to say this) – that had anchovies on their toppings list. Of course, a field trip had to be on the menu.

(To my readers back in Phoenix: Actual restaurants in grocery stores is quite a thing up here. And they aren’t fast-food burgers or sandwich shops — they’re proper standalone restaurants that happen to share a building with a grocery store! Also, Kowalski’s Market would be similar to AJ’s Fine Foods.)

My usual thought process is to have capers on this pizza, but those weren’t on the toppings list at this place. That led to a spot of inspiration: See what ChatGPT recommends. Maybe it might be spot-on; maybe it could be way out of its depth. But it was worth a go at least for some ideas, right?

I scanned the toppings list to my iPhone and copied the text into ChatGPT. I gave it the prompt: “Propose a pizza with 3-4 toppings from this list below. Anchovies have to be one of the toppings.” The toppings list was below my prompt sentence. Almost immediately, it responded:

I would recommend a pizza with the following toppings:

  1. Anchovies (required)
  2. Roasted red pepper
  3. Caramelized onion
  4. Fresh mozzarella

This combination of toppings will give your pizza a delicious blend of flavors, with the unique taste of anchovies complemented by the sweetness of caramelized onions and the smokiness of roasted red peppers. The creamy fresh mozzarella will provide a delightful contrast in texture. Enjoy your pizza!

So ladies and, in a broader sense, gentlemen: I present to you a pizza whose toppings were suggested by ChatGPT:

A pizza with anchovies on it
An anchovy pizza with other things. Rather tasty!

It was spot-on. And probably one of the 10 best pizzas I’ve had? (And also deserved a visit from the pizzeria manager, who said he appreciates someone who does anchovies on pizza.)

This is what I say when I talk about “doing more with more” – here’s a system that we can use to comb through different combinations and permutations of everything, and recommend something that makes sense. I gave it a baseline, and it went to work. What surprise and delight.

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