The world was fascinated and confused yesterday when British transplant Sir Patrick Stewart tweeted a photo of himself eating his first slice of pizza in his 72 years of existence. In addition to this blog, the story made headlines at the Daily News, the Today show, Fox News, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, and countless other outlets. And everyone who wrote about it had the same question: How is this possible?
In our unending quest for the Truth, we got in touch with Stewart this morning to ask him ourselves. As he waited for a flight to a secret location, Stewart did his best to explain to Daily Intelligencer how he had managed to avoid a slice of pizza for so long, why he finally ate one yesterday (he was hung-over), and what he plans to eat next.
So, I get that you've had pizza before, just not a slice of pizza ...
That's correct. People misunderstood. There was a school of thought that I had eaten my first pizza, but of course how could that possibly be true? I would have had to have stayed locked up in a cellar. But nevertheless, this was my first slice of pizza, which I was only eating because my fiancée and I were a little hung-over yesterday morning and she said what we need is pizza and a soothing drink — and she was right. It solved the problem. But, in fact, it was my first slice, and when it was brought over to me, my first comment was "There's no knife and fork." Of course, I was mocked for thinking that I could eat a pizza slice with a knife and fork.
Especially in a Brooklyn pizza restaurant. And so then I was instructed — because I was getting myself into a real mess — to do the fold, the classic New York fold technique, which we illustrated in the photograph. And, in fact, it proved effective. It kept me clean and unblemished.
It was a good technique for a first-timer.
Oh, well, thank you very much; that's kind of you. But pizza was at one time a novelty in my life, and I'll give you an instance. My brother and I, when we were small, we would listen to a BBC Radio program every morning called "Children's Choice." And they played records suitable for kids to listen to. My brother and I listened to this seriously — we learned all the lyrics to all the songs, and we sang along. And one of them was a Dean Martin hit called "Amore." And the song began, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie." Well, my brother and I had never seen a pizza, didn't know what a pizza was; we had never heard the word before, so it made no sense to us. So I thought that what Dean Martin was actually singing was "When the moon hits your eye like a big piece of pie." So for years, whenever I was singing along, I would sing those words, until one day somebody said, "What are you singing?" And I said, "A big piece of pie." And he said, "Idiot, it's pizza pie." Because I was actually in my twenties before I saw a pizza. I know that will sound bizarre to you, but I grew up in a small community in northern England.
And pizza isn't big there.
No pizza, no.
How many years have you lived in the United States?
Well, I lived in California for nearly eighteen years and recently got a home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, in New York.
So, in all those years, you never, you know, walked by a pizza place, you're hungry, you decide to go in and try a slice? How come that never happened?
I know, it's hard to understand, isn't it? But, you know, I would go in there and order a pizza and eat a whole pizza. It was the concept of the slice that I had never encountered before. And by the way, the pizza establishment that I went into was a well-known, well-established Brooklyn pizza place called Smiling Pizza, and I'm told that Fox News interviewed the owner, and he said, "Oh my God, if I had known it was his first slice I would have given him a second slice."
Can you believe all the attention this has gotten?
I'm astonished. You know, we thought it was a cute picture. I like doing these things that are kind of unexpected, as far as I'm concerned, and things that have a little bit of a surprise element to them. But we never anticipated what has happened. I just did an interview with BBC, the main evening news program. And it's been years since I've talked to them. And it's all, you know, about a pizza slice.
Do you think you'll have another slice someday? Will this be a regular thing for you now?
Well, the place I'm heading to — I can't tell you where it is — but it may be that I get there and, sometime in the next few days, I take another slice.
Are there any other common foods that you've never eaten before that you're thinking of trying?
I've never eaten hundred-year-old eggs, but I've always been curious about them. You know, they're an Eastern delicacy.
Yeah, you'll find them in places like Singapore or Hong Kong and so forth. I've never eaten one, but maybe now after this pizza slice I might move on to 100-year-old eggs.