Korea – Sassy Sojurita

Where to Begin

While I prefer to choose a single topic to cover when posting about most of the countries we’ve visited, Korea (particularly South Korea) had so many blow-my-mind facts about it that I just had to compile a number of them rather than delve into individual items. So, let’s take a peek behind the Korean curtain and see which goodies we can find:

Major communication companies Samsung and LG are based out of Korea and because of this, new phone technology is often released in the country first. Around 98% of Koreans own mobile devices and use them for everything from phone calls to watching live TV to online shopping. Despite Samsung and LG calling Korea home, mobile devices are expensive there, although users are still likely to regularly replace their phones with updated versions.

Samsung Funny

Online gaming is huge in Korea, where players can make some serious cash and become celebrities. Gaming sessions are even broadcast on TV, with the most popular titles including Starcraft, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Lineage. Gaming parlours have opened up around the country, where men, women, and children can visit for gaming fun across a local network. On the negative side, internet and gaming addiction in particular is common and there has even been a few cases of people dying due to marathon gaming sessions.

Koreans don’t shy away from using credit cards, making dramatically more purchases per person, each year, using plastic. Have you ever been somewhere that didn’t accept credit? That’s illegal in Korea. Similarly, every cab has a card reader in it, so no more having to be driven to a bank machine just to pay your fare… take that Tacoma, Washington!

While Koreans work exceptionally hard (an average of 44.6 hours per week), they are also known for their drinking culture. In fact, if someone doesn’t join in on the evening out, getting blitzed on Soju, they are committing a major faux pas and party foul all at once. Drinking games are popular while out on the town. Jinro Soju has consistently been the world’s most sold spirit with an estimated 61 million-plus cases sold in 2011, dwarfing the worldwide sales of Smirnoff Vodka, the number two most popular liquor worldwide, which sold a mere 24 million-plus cases. Pretty epic given most sales for Jinro come domestically.

Soju 30 Shots

Korean golfers are increasingly becoming top stars of the sport, particularly on the women’s side of the ledger. As of July 2014, of the top 50 female golfers, 19 are Korean, including three in the top 10.  At 14 years old, Lydia Ko (born in Korea, but grew up in New Zealand) became the youngest to ever win a professional tournament when she emerged victorious at the Samsung Women’s Open in 2012.

Cartoons such as The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and King of the Hill have all had their basic animation, in-betweening, and colouring performed in Korea. As for domestic releases, Pororo the Little Penguin is wildly popular, even being given the nickname President Pororo. The flightless bird is so popular that it has a section of a theme park dedicated to it, thousands of products emblazoned with its likeness and will earn millions of dollars for the company that created it.

Korea is the birthplace of the martial art, Taekwondo, which was developed by the South Korean military. Taekwondo’s philosophy includes five tenets: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. South Korea has been awarded the most Olympic medals in the sport with 10 gold, two silver, and two bronze for 14 total. China, the United States, and Chinese Taipei are tied for second most with eight.

World Taekwondo Federation

In Korea, men are just as likely to use cosmetics as their female counterparts, spending about $900 million each year on foundation, makeup, and skincare products. Korean males make up a quarter of the international men’s cosmetics market. In a similar vein, the men of Korea are more likely to have plastic surgery than other parts of the world and that may be partly because it is much cheaper in Korea, causing folks from nearby countries to flock to the republic.

Korea’s music industry is highlighted by pop songs, known as K-Pop, which groups feature mostly young performers. A number of the bands have weird names that combine numbers and letters, including TVXQ, 2PM, B1A4, EXO, 2AM, CNBLUE, MBLAQ, SS501, 2NE1, and GOT7. 2PM and 2AM are rival groups and routinely settle their differences Gangnam Style (also a Korean export).

Sticking with the country’s entertainment industries, the Korean film industry has been dubbed Hallyuwood (using the term Hallyu, which describes the Korean Wave of popular culture being exported from the country, along with the ‘wood’ of Hollywood) and is best known for mini-series dramas. They even had a show called Full House, but I don’t think you’d find the Tanner clan in it.

Korea: Sassy Sojurita

Sassy Sojurita Cocktail

  • 2.5 oz Soju
  • 0.5 oz Pisco
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

I never knew that there was this much neat stuff going on in Korea… and now I want a slice of the action! My night will start with an epic Soju binge (after an exhausting day at work, of course) and then it’s off to the video game parlour for a marathon of online action before practicing some bedroom taekwondo with Mrs. Sip and then repeating it all over again the next day!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Finding Soju recipes isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I was able to track down a couple which were usually adaptations of classic cocktails, simply subbing in Soju for the traditional spirit. I really liked the addition of Pisco to this margarita-style drink and that inclusion likely bumped this libation up half a point. Mrs. Sip bought me this bottle of Soju and ironically, it is in fact from the Jinro company, even before I had heard of it.

July 26 – Red Devil

Gingerbread Men

Well, apparently ‘Kick a Ginger Day’ just recently passed, but not being an observer of the holiday, I’d like to turn things in another direction and embrace our pale, freckled friends. Hell, some of them are pretty hot, as we’ll see in next week’s look at ginger females. Today, though, we breakdown the Top 5 ginger dudes… no kicking allowed!

#5: Richie Cunningham – Happy Days

While he may look like the biggest dork, Richie Cunningham is seemingly quite popular, with a group of loyal buddies, girls willing to date him, and particularly the Fonz even wanting (or willing) to be his pal. I guess the 50’s were truly a different time. Ron Howard is a Hollywood icon and is perhaps the most successful child actor of all-time. Whether he’s directing hit movies, returning to Mayberry, or narrating Arrested Development, this ginger has done it all and done it well.

Richie Cunningham

#4: Carrot Top

I urge anyone heading to Las Vegas to check out Carrot Top’s show at The Luxor. Even if you despise prop comedy (and there are certainly detractors of the art form), there’s something about Carrot Top’s energy and creativity that will leave you satisfied and exhausted from laughing. His manic delivery keeps the show running at super speeds and before you know it, the show is over and you’re wanting more redhead comedy.

#3: Ronald McDonald

While ‘Rotten Ronny’ here doesn’t do much for the ginger image – you know, looking all creepy and such – he is a global icon and one that most people identify with joyful childhood memories of Happy Meals, ball pits, and McDonalds birthday parties! While Grimace and the gang have faded into obscurity, Ronald is still a mascot and spokesperson for the brand. For better or worse, we may never bid farewell to the clown prince of hamburgers.

Ronald McDonald Joker

#2: Beaker – The Muppets

Poor Beaker has been suffering through ‘Kick a Ginger Day’ his entire life. Often the victim of Professor Bunsen Honeydew’s madcap inventions, this little lab assistant must absolutely hate going into work each day. Even though he’s a puppet, Beaker managed to appear during a professional wrestling match and help fellow ginger Sheamus pick up a victory thanks to a potion he whipped up. Now that’s some sweet redhead revenge!

#1: Philip J. Fry – Futurama

He may not be the brightest guy out there, but neither am I, so I feel Fry and I share some sort of bond… Brothers in Idiocy or something to that tune. Mrs. Sip and I have been going through all the Futurama episodes lately and it’s really made me appreciate the characters more than I did before. While we haven’t finished the series yet, I hope Fry has a happy ending (and not the naughty kind)… I know this fellow idiot got his!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Red Devil

Red Devil Shot

  • 0.5 oz Vodka (I used Loopy)
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

In closing, I have to give a shout out to my little buddy Furious B, a long-haired orange tabby. Wishing you many more adventures, vermin kills, and countless hours napping the day away!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I wanted to make sure the ‘Red’ title was a part of each recipe for these articles… mission accomplished (so far)! The Loopy Vodka (gifted to the Sip Advisor from Cousin Sip) was a nice touch with the Amaretto and I actually squeezed my own Cranberry Juice, which is not as easy to do as one would think. Luckily, I didn’t need much of it for a shooter.

Finland – Asterix

Metal Militia

Heavy metal music is huge in Scandinavia, particularly in Finland. Apparently there is even a bunch of sub-genres (death, black, folk, power, cello and symphonic)… who knew!? Let’s put on our leather and black make-up (is that even a metal thing?) and take a closer look at some of the country’s biggest metal acts:

Apocalyptica

This band is made up of three classically trained cellists (Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, and Perttu Kivilaakso) and drummer Mikko Sirén. The quartet originally began as a Metallica tribute group – yes, using nothing but cellos – before evolving into other styles of music. Apocalyptica has even worked with Mr. Gwen Stefani (aka Gavin Rossdale of Bush fame). Their 8th studio album should be out sometime this year for Finnish metal fanatics everywhere.

Stratovarius

Around since 1984 (although no original members have been with the band since 1995), Stratovarius is one of power metal’s most influential groups, releasing 18 albums over the last 30 years. Over that time, the ensemble has cycled through 15 different members, but has managed to remain critically and commercially successful. Some of their best singles include: Black Diamond, Speed of Light, and the 10-minute Destiny.

Sonata Arctica

Originally a hard rock band under the names Tricky Beans and later Tricky Means, the group finally settled on Sonata Arctica when moving to the power metal genre, although they prefer to call their style melodic metal. The unit cites Queen as a primary influence, as well as fellow Finnish metal band Stratovarius. A RPG-style (role playing) video game was even supposed to feature the band and their music, but was cancelled for unknown reasons.

Hevisaurus

First of all, great name (providing it means what I think it does: a massive kick-ass, metal wailing dinosaur) and second, they’re a children’s power metal band! Where else do you ever see the term “children’s power metal”!? I looked into it a little more and the band actually dresses up in dinosaur costumes for their performances and has a detailed backstory including being hatched from metal eggs that were dormant for 65 million years before lightning and witches’ spells cracked them open.

Children of Bodom

One of Finland’s best-selling musical acts of all-time, Children of Bodom’s style has been described by fans as melodic death metal, power metal, thrash metal, early symphonic black metal, and neoclassical metal (how can there be so many ways to describe one act!?). These guys aren’t making easy listening tunes, with album titles that include Hatebreeder, Hate Crew Deathroll, Are You Dead Yet?, Blooddrunk, and Halo of Blood. I hope they find peace in what they’re looking for!

Nightwish

The most successful Finnish band outside the country’s borders (and third best-selling within Finland), Nightwish has numerous chart-topping albums and singles around the world. For the group’s debut album, songs were written and performed in both Finnish and English, but the band has largely dropped their native tongue, with lead vocalist and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen stating that “Finnish [could] quickly sound really cheesy.”

Lordi

This group (known for their concert theatrics, such as wearing masks, costumes, using pyrotechnics, and horror elements) won the 2006 Eurovision song contest with their “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. With the victory, they became the first rock act and Finnish band to place first in the competition. After their big win, Lordi hosted a free concert in Helsinki’s Market Square. The ensemble even have a soft drink named after them. Lordi Cola features artwork of the band and apparently tastes like death.

HIM

With their album Dark Light, HIM (His Infernal Majesty from The Satanic Bible) became the first Finnish group to have an album certified gold in the United States. The band has earned a reputation as a ‘love metal’ group and how could you not come to the same conclusion with album titles like Razorblade Romance and the use of a altered pentagram logo turned into a ‘heartagram.’ HIM has also been described by themselves and critics as ‘Goth N’ Roll’ and ‘Scandinavian Blues.’

Finland: Asterix

Asterix Cocktail

  • 0.75 oz Finlandia Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Pisang Ambon
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Dash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Cherry

While I lean more towards classic rock in my music preference, I have to say that many of these Finnish groups have great names and that’s a good start in the performance industry. Add in monster masks and dinosaur costumes and I might be sold on the whole genre!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Wow, Finlandia Vodka is 2-for-2 when it comes to great cocktails. I just love the flavour of banana that comes through in the aftertaste thanks to the Pisang Ambon… and I’m not even a banana fan. Everything works well together here and I urge all you little sippers to give the drink a chance. It also looks so cool!

Finland – Arctic Circle

Full of Hot Air

Hanging out at Ma and Pa Sip’s place can often feel like an all-inclusive resort vacation. Good food, great drinks, and there’s even a pool and sauna. I hesitantly include that last item, as it may cause a wave of Finnish backpackers to show up at Ma and Pa Sip’s front door. Apparently, Finnish people are big into saunas and there’s even a culture around the hot houses that is unique to the country. Let’s learn a little more about that… NOW!:

With a population of only five million people, it’s staggering to learn that there are more than two million saunas in Finland. That’s an average of one per household. Many Finnish websites state that the sauna can only be truly enjoyed in Finland, its birthplace. In fact, “sauna” is a Finnish word and one of the few that has spread into other languages.

Finnish Saunas

Speaking of birthplaces, long ago, most Finnish mothers gave birth to their babies in saunas. Can you imagine taking a girl back to your sauna for the first time and being able to say: “And that’s where I was born…” Talk about a mood killer! The sauna’s versatility has largely led to its popularity. A sauna can provide everything from a roof over your head, to a stove to cook food on, to a place to keep warm during the long winter months.

Saturday is the traditional sauna day and most Finnish citizens try to get in a steam at least once each week. Saunas can be found outdoors along the country’s shoreline, in apartments, at corporate offices, and even in their Parliament and 1,400 meters deep at the Pyhäsalmi Mine.

While in the sauna, some users may beat themselves with a leafy branch of a birch tree, which is said to relax the muscles. When the temperature gets too uncomfortable, these crazy Finns will jump in a pool or other body of water to cool down. Even wilder, in the winter, they will roll around in the snow or cut a hole in the ice and jump into the frigid water below. Here’s where I’m down with these nutty folk, though, as following their steam, it is customary to enjoy some sausage with beer to finish the experience. Then you can lather, rinse and repeat as many times as you want!

Sauna Reality

The sauna is a sacred place to many Finns and so it is a huge party foul to swear while inside. Controversial topics are also avoided as arguments in the sauna are frowned upon and conversation is generally of the relaxed variety. It should be noted that in Finnish folklore, a sauna elf lives in the structure and is its spirit.

Men and women often sauna separately, although younger generations are more open to group sauna time (remember, everyone is supposed to be totally naked). Families use the sauna together, as well, but at a certain age, teenagers split from their parents. For Finnish business people, a sauna invitation is in the same vein as going to lunch or drinks. If a foreigner refuses an invite, this may be looked down on by the host. If staying with a Finn, the sauna might be warmed up in your honour, making it that much more difficult to pass up.

Sauna Funny

The World Sauna Championships were held from 1999-2010 in Heinola, Finland, despite the Finnish Sauna Society (yes, this organization actually exists) strongly opposing the event, due to the health risk of being enclosed amongst hot temperatures for long periods of time. The competitors basically tried to sit in the sauna the longest and be the last to leave the structure without assistance. Finnish athletes (no, that can’t be the right word for this) dominated the event, which ceased operations after the 2010 championship, due to a Russian competitor dying from third-degree burns and a former five-time Finnish champion needing to be rushed to the hospital where he was put into a medically-induced coma for six weeks.

There are different types of saunas commonly used throughout Finland, which differ depending on how it’s heated or the building it’s housed in. The heating options include: a smoke sauna, a wood stove sauna, and an electric stove sauna. Housing differences comprise everything from portable tents to saunas built into cars, buses, trailers, and even bicycles. There are companies that rent mobile saunas and there’s even an annual event for the phenomenon in Teuva, Finland. This must turn into the largest gathering of sweaty, naked people on earth, which has me thinking that it’s time for a refreshing drink.

Finland: Arctic Circle

Arctic Circle Cocktail

  • 1 oz Finlandia Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with Mint Leaves

I don’t use Ma and Pa Sip’s sauna as often as I should. It helped in getting Mrs. Sip into the pool on cooler days, with the promise that she could retreat to the sauna when she got too cold. Manipulative, yes… but you would do it too if you ever saw Mrs. Sip in a bikini!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This was a very nice drink that is as easy on the eyes as it is on the palate. Ginger Ale has got to be one of the best mixers out there and it always works nicely with Lime Juice. I don’t think I’ve ever had it before with Vodka, usually putting it together with Rum or Whiskey. It works here just as well as with the other spirits!

July 19 – Floater

All the Balls

After last week’s look at the best sports movies geared towards a family audience, it’s time to turn up the vulgarity and venture into the world of adult-oriented films… well, not those types of films, but the sports type for teens and adults. Here are the Top 5 grown up sports movies:

#5: Baseketball

From the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone), comes this farce about a world where sports superstars have become so overpaid and corporations dictate athletic competition. A universe where sportsmanship no longer exists and money is the root of all evil. Enter Cooper and Remer, who create a baseball-basketball-beer pong hybrid that eventually grows to become the next great sports phenomenon. Some of the team names from the movie are particularly clever, including the Dallas Felons, Miami Dealers, New Jersey Informants, and San Francisco Ferries (think about that one for a moment!).

baseketball

#4: DodgeBall

The underdog story of a ragtag group trying to save their gym (Average Joe’s), as they dodge, dip, dive, duck, and yes, dodge again versus the super-charged squad of Globo-Gym, which is looking to buy out the smaller competition. The entire cast is hilarious in this movie (particularly, my boy Stephen Root) and the surprise cameos from some judges of the competitions are great as well. A sequel to the movie is in the works and both Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller are expected to reprise their roles. Hopefully they remember that if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!

#3: Happy Gilmore

Adam Sandler kept his string of 90’s hit movies going with this entry. The film sees aspiring hockey star – despite his awful skillset – jump into the world of professional golf, when he’s discovered by a one-handed golf course pro. Things become more serious for Gilmore when his grandma’s house is to be taken away and the only way to get it back is Gilmore’s success on the PGA Tour. In my opinion, along with the success of Tiger Woods, the popularity of this film launched a whole new generation of golf players and fans. Gilmore’s brawl with The Price is Right host, Bob Barker, is one of the best cameo scenes in movie history.

Happy Gilmore

#2: Caddyshack

Times are changing at the Bushwood Country Club, as a new wave of members enter the fray, disrupting the once peaceful and pristine society. Bill Murray steals the show as groundskeeper Carl Spackler, particularly his improvised scene describing the Cinderella story of a hard luck golfer at Augusta, while teeing off on some of the club’s flowers. Others, such as Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight are perfect in their roles as combative members. It’s too bad that the sequel couldn’t live up to the original, but it’s still an okay romp. I especially enjoy it when the course is given miniature golf elements.

#1: Slap Shot

There are so many quotable lines in this classic. Paul Newman is awesome as the Charlestown Chief’s player-coach, Reggie Dunlop, and with other oddballs like the ultraviolent Hanson Brothers joining the squad, there’s plenty of characters to appreciate and enjoy. Many of the roles were based on real-life players. As a young kid growing up in hockey-mad Canada, this film was like a rite of passage, especially given its adult elements. I can’t say much for the two sequels that have come out in more recent years, but everyone out there, hockey fan or not, should give the original a viewing.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Floater

Floater Shot

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Scoop of Peanut Butter
  • Dash of Chocolate Syrup

Who would have thought that two golf-themed films would crack this list? Even more surprising, not a single Will Ferrell sports movie made the Top 5… and I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan. Lastly, while they are made-for-TV documentaries, the Sip Advisor encourages everyone out there to check out ESPN’s 30-for-30 series and get your learn on!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
All I have to say about this shot is, think about the pool scene in Caddyshack… disgusting, indeed! You’re also supposed to garnish with shot with Corn, but I just couldn’t make that graphic leap. Given the shooter is straight vodka, it’s strong, but the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sauce tame it a little… just not enough.

Italy – Sunday Confession

Goodfellas

The term “mafia” comes from Sicily, Italy, and let’s be honest, the most famous of mobsters all hail from the Italian line of organized crime, also known as Cosa Nostra, which translated means “Our Thing.” And, it certainly is THEIR thing. While the term ‘Omertà’ governs the mafia with a code of silence, the Sip Advisor is breaking all the rules with our own ‘Most Wanted’ list of infamous Italian gangsters:

Vito Cascioferro

Thought of as the ‘Boss of Bosses’ during his reign at the top, Cascioferro was arrested approximately 69 times during his career, but always acquitted. His luck ran out in June 1930, when Cascioferro was tried for numerous offences, including murder, attempted murder, robbery, extortion, and other offences. He was convicted and given a life sentence. He died in prison somewhere between 1943-45, with many inmates considering it an honour to now fill the same jail cell.

Mafia Cats

Calogero Vizzini

Dubbed the ‘King of the Black Market,’ Vizzini was even made mayor of Villalba, Italy (where his crime family was based), following World War II. Vizzini’s death was big news, even reported by the New York Times. Thousands turned out for the leader’s funeral, including other bosses, politicians, and priests. Vizzini predicted that the mafia would die with him and the old-school version did slowly dissolve, but was replaced by a more modern mob that we recognize today.

Michele Navarra

The boss of the famed Corleone family (also used for the Godfather movies) from 1944-58, Navarra was also a trained physician and perhaps this is why he was more likely to delegate murders than commit them himself. Navarra was killed on August 2, 1958 after feuding with former associate Luciano Leggio, whom Navarra tried to have ambushed by 15 gunmen, yet somehow Leggio survived with only minor injuries. I’d question his leadership, too!

Luciano Leggio

Speaking of Leggio, he became the Corleone boss following Navarra’s death and is credited with starting the Second Mafia War. After a string of acquittals on various charges, Leggio finally found himself sentenced to life imprisonment for Navarra’s slaying, but disappeared, running a successful kidnapping ring while on the run. He was finally caught in 1974, but continued to have influence over the syndicate from behind bars. He died in prison, of a heart attack in 1993.

Mafia Comic

Salvatore Riina

After Leggio was arrested in the 1970’s, Riina eventually took over control of the Corleone family, which was ironic because he was one of the suspects in the assassination of Navarra. Riina was considered the ‘Boss of Bosses’ following the Second Mafia War. Nicknamed ‘The Beast,’ by fellow mobsters, this 5’2” leader used a campaign of violence to achieve power, killing rivals, as well as prosecutors and other government officials. Riina was arrested in 1993, after 23 years as a fugitive.

Bernardo Provenzano

One of the most powerful Sicilian bosses of all-time, Provenzano followed Riina as leader of the Corleone family. Once at the helm, Provenzano worked to change the perception of the mafia to being less violent, more diplomatic and willing to work with established institutions. Under the new guidelines, violence was only to be used if absolutely necessary. Despite all that, Provenzano spent more than 40 years evading police capture, before authorities finally arrested him in April 2006.

Italy: Sunday Confession

Sunday Confession Cocktail

  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • 1 oz Tequila
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Cherry

This all has me wanting to go back and watch some of the best mafia media. Take your pick, but my favourites include The Godfather franchise, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, and Donnie Brasco. Perhaps I’ll have to do a future article on fictional mobsters… so long as they make me an offer I can’t refuse!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail has a perfect name for a mafia-related article, although confession would certainly go against the Omertà code of silence. I used Cranberry Ginger Ale instead of the recommended Ginger Beer because it seemed like a good idea and it worked out really well. Limoncello and Tequila was a decent mix, too.

Italy – The Winkle

Sicilian Slice

The modern pizza was invented in Naples, Italy and god bless them for doing so. Throughout the Sip Advisor’s life, pizza has always remained at or near the top of my favourite foods list. I don’t care that it’s not exactly a healthy choice and often falls under the junk food category… it’s god damn delicious!

The term ‘pizza’ can be traced all the way back to the year 997 AD in the city of Gaeta, Italy. Before that, flat breads called foccasia were garnished with a variety of toppings, but were usually sweet dishes, rather than savoury. In the 18th century, the people of Naples began adding tomatoes to the mix and thus the modern pizza was born, before spreading around the world thanks to Italian immigrants.

Pizza Gross

The thing I love about pizza is its versatility. It’s great upon first serving and a rare food item that can be better reheated later or even scarfed down cold, straight out of the fridge. It’s the perfect breakfast – especially after a night of hard drinking – as it doesn’t take much effort to prepare while you’re still a little fuzzy. Apparently, I’m not alone, as 36% of Americans think it makes the perfect morning meal.

As of 2012, there were 11,139 Pizza Hut outlets across 94 countries. Pizza Hut’s largest competitor, Domino’s Pizza, has more than 10,000 stores and is the world leader in delivery services. Along with these two giants are so many other companies hawking bread, cheese, sauce, and toppings, totaling more than five billion pizzas sold every year, with more than half of those sales occurring in the United States.

The largest pizza ever made weighed 12.9 tons and was created at the Norwood Pick ‘n Pay in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1990. The pie had a diameter of 37.4 meters (122 feet, 8 inches) and used 500kg of flour, 800kg of cheese, and 900kg of tomato sauce.

Pizza Win

The most expensive pizza ever made included ingredients such as sunblush-tomato sauce, Scottish smoked salmon, venison medallions, lobster marinated in gognac, champagne-soaked caviar, and even edible gold. Made by restaurant owner Domenico Crolla, the pizza was auctioned for charity and raised 2,150 pounds. The most expensive regularly sold pizza can be found at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Maze, in London. Each serving will set you back 100 pounds, not to mention the weight that will be added to your waistline.

If you’re having a massive party, you could consider hitting up Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria in California, where you can purchase a pizza that measures 4’6” x 4’6” and serves anywhere from 50-100 people. Just make sure that competitive food eater Joey Chestnut isn’t on the guest list, as the dude set the world record for most pizza slices eaten in 10 minutes when he polished off 40 ½ slices.

Brooklyn, New York’s Scott Wiener (heh, wiener!) owns the world’s largest pizza box collection. As of late 2013, he has amassed 595 pizza boxes from 45 different countries. He only began collecting in 2008 after grabbing some ‘za in Israel and admiring the box there. Wiener’s favourite piece in his collection is a box from the Netherlands which features characters similar to Homer and Bart Simpson. Not content to just receive a certificate from the Guinness Records folks, Wiener has even released a book, Viva La Pizza, chronicling some of the world’s most artistic pizza boxes.

Pizza Simpsons

Pepperoni is the most popular topping worldwide, but so many specialty pizzas have popped up over the years thanks to this wonderful gastronomic invention. Let’s take a look at some of these “gourmet” options from around the globe:

Africa: The Africana pizza includes meat (ham/beef/chicken), peanuts, banana, pineapple, onion, and curry powder. I can’t say I’ve ever had a pizza with peanuts or banana, but it has me thinking about some of the combos the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came up with back in the day.

Australia: Known as The Aussie, Australian, or Australiana, this pizza takes your traditional base of marinara sauce and cheese, but then puts bacon and eggs on top. That sounds like a hell of a way to get your breakfast in at all times of the day!

Canada: The Canadian pizza isn’t very elaborate, combining bacon, pepperoni, and mushrooms. I think if our country had a do-over, we’d come up with something involving poutine, maple syrup, and hockey tape to hold it all together!

Pizza Turtles

Caribbean: I’m not sure which exact country you can attach this recipe to, but mixing barbeque sauce, chicken, pineapple, onion, and green peppers sounds like something I’d want to lay claim to if I belonged to any of these island nations.

France: The French pizza has seemingly normal toppings (chicken, mushrooms, peppers, olives) until you get to its sauce: Dijon mustard. While this would be something I’d try, Mrs. Sip would not be happy to find the yellow stuff on her meal.

Greece: The Greek pizza usually features olives, feta cheese, green peppers, and tomatoes… all the ingredients that make up a Greek salad. In the best scenarios chicken souvlaki is also thrown into the mix and if the Sip Advisor was running the show, he’d drizzle some tzatziki sauce all over that bad boy!

Indonesia: The Balinese pizza comes with shredded pork, roasted red peppers, and garlic. At least they’re not using the monkeys found all over the island for toppings… those little buggers may have attacked Mrs. Sip and I, but I still love them.

Pizza Dogs

Jamaican: Jerk Chicken is at the heart of this pizza, which frankly is Jamaican me hungry!

Mexico: The Mexican or Mexicana pizza usually involves ingredients one would find on tacos and other Americanized fare from the country. This includes ground beef, jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, chili, avocado, peppers, etc. The cheese on the Mexican pizza is sometimes modified to be of the pepper jack variety to help add another dash of spice to the recipe.

Portugal: Portuguese pizzas include Portuguese sausage, onions, and bell peppers. This pie may not be for the weak of heart.

Pizza Cat

Thailand: Thai pizzas are highlighted by Thai chicken and also include peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and shaved carrots. Pizzas may not be the healthiest of food, but that mix doesn’t sound as artery clogging as others.

United States: The Hawaiian is probably the U.S.’s most recognized pizza, combining ham and pineapple, but there are other options, including Santa Fe, with spiced chicken and the Californian, featuring club sandwich ingredients, such as avocado and bacon. The U.S. is also famous for all the different style of pizza, such as Chicago deep dish, Detroit twice-baked, New York thin crust, St. Louis rectangle slices, and New Haven no cheese.

Italy: The Winkle

The Winkle Martini

  • Muddle Raspberries and Sage
  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Sage Sprig

Pizza should be celebrated, so why not observe National Pizza Month, which occurs every October in the U.S. You could also attend the annual International Pizza Expo, which takes place in Las Vegas every March. Either way, make sure to enjoy as much pizza pie goodness as you can and thank those crazy Italians for coming up with this culinary gem!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I absolutely loved this martini, although everyone I told to try a sip wasn’t in agreement with ol’ Mr. Sip. The Sage was a unique ingredient that I’ve never used before this. The Gin and Limoncello worked together in perfect harmony… kind of like cheese, bread, and tomato sauce!