Classification is a confusing sport. What we call what helps us understand what what is. You follow? And especially in the food world, designations are hazy. Take, for example, a gratin: that cheesy, gooey casseroled bakefest that seems easy to define, but that upon further investigation, actually isn’t. Riffable formulas push at the boundaries of seemingly rigid classifications. Like if you sub cauliflower for crust, is it still a pizza? Are chips still chips if they’re made from crisped kale? Now, before I go all Ship of Theseus on you all, let’s look instead at a recent debate dividing the internet: Where does a ravioli begin and where does it end?
This saga began with [a tweet]. One that features a photo of man seated behind a booth on what is presumably a college campus. In front of him is a sign that reads “Pop Tarts Are Ravioli,” then below that, in slightly smaller type “Change My Mind.”
It’s a heady statement, for sure, and one that the internet valiantly gathered around. Tweets, as they do, poured in.
POPTARTS ARE RAVIOLI!!!!! UNCRUSTABLES ARE RAVIOLI!!!!! EMPANADAS ARE RAVIOLI!!!!! CALZONES ARE RAVIOLI!!!!! DO NOT ARGUE WITH ME BECAUSE YOU WILL BE WRONG!!!!!
The debate, though seemingly silly at first, is actually one of substance. What do the words we use to call our food actually mean, and how can they change depending on context or use or cultural situation? Where exactly does a dumpling end and a ravioli begin? These are all worthwhile questions, but difficult to answer. And my guess is, each of us will have a different take on the matter. In the meantime, there’s only one last thing to wonder: