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What Is a Pizza Puff?

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[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

What is a pizza puff? No, seriously. That's not a rhetorical question. I'm asking you, Chicagoans.

OK. Actually, from what I've read and seen firsthand after a visit to a very well-stocked supermarket frozen pizza aisle, it's simply pizzaesque ingredients with a flour tortilla folded around them in an almost envelope-like manner. From everything I've googled on them, I know they're a Chicago thing.

So, more specifically, how is a true pizza puff prepared? And what is its natural habitat?

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I picked up a couple of them in Milwaukee while I was there last week and brought them home with me. Trouble is, once I opened the package and read the instructions (above), I realized I probably lacked an essential piece of equipment for true pizza puffery: a deep-fryer.

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About half the references I've read online mention deep-frying. Is it a true pizza puff if it's not deep-fried? Is my baked pizza puff merely a pale imitation?

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Here's the autopsy shot postbake. I can't say it wasn't tasty. This is the Four Cheese version.* It's was Hot Pocket–like but better. Though I do think it had a strange consistency — I don't know if it was the flour tortilla influencing my perception, but the texture of the filling was reminiscent of refried beans. Luckily, it did not taste like refried beans — just like a tangy, sharp, tomatoey mix of Generic Pizza Flavor.

Not bad. Not what I'd seek out every day. But, like most of the online literature says, it's probably great when you've been drinking.

Which brings me back to my earlier query. Native habitat and preparation? From a bar and deep-fried? Is that the true essence of the puff?

* I bought the Original version as well, but I think it may have thawed in my carry-on on the plane and I didn't want to chance anything, what with the ingredients in that one being pork, etc.

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