This Finnish Pizza Uses Reindeer Meat As A Topping

In 2005, following a visit to Finland, former Italian prime minister and surprisingly salty food critic Silvio Berlusconi insulted the country's culinary offerings, ridiculing their diet as consisting mostly of "marinated reindeer" and bemoaning how he "endured" Finnish cuisine during his trip there (via Atlas Obscura). His pointed comments weren't lost on the Finnish people, who wasted no time in dishing out some sweet and savory justice.

A Finnish pizza restaurant called Kotipizza devised a unique specialty pie called the "Pizza Berlusconi" that playfully dissed the prime minister while taking a jab at one of Italy's revered culinary traditions. The novelty pie was topped with — you guessed it — smoked reindeer, along with cheese, red onion, and chanterelle mushrooms on a rye crust.

There are plenty of creative pizza toppings out there, and not all of them succeed. In 2008, Berlusconi learned that revenge is a dish best served out of a 500 degree oven, when Kotipizza entered their reindeer-adorned "Pizza Berlusconi" into the Plate International Pizza Contest held in New York City and won first place, besting the Italian-Americans' pizza entry, per FinnStyle.

The Italian embassy demands a name change

What started as a gag would eventually grow to become a permanent fixture on Kotipizza's menu. Pizza blog The Sauce by Slice notes that reindeer pizza remains popular throughout Finland to this day. Silvio Berlusconi and company did push back for a time, however. At one point, the Italian embassy even demanded that the prime minister's name be removed from the dish, arguing that Kotipizza was profiting off of the use of Berlusconi's name recognition in their advertising, according to Atlas Obscura. Kotipizza's CEO held firm and retained the moniker, even inviting Berlusconi back to Finland to sit down and chat about it. While Berlusconi didn't take him up on the offer, the prime minister did eventually return to the country on a state visit in 2011, during which he sampled more Finnish fare.

This time he had more positive things to say, and perhaps fittingly, one of the foods he delighted in was reindeer — although it may or may not have been marinated. Dining in the capital of Helsinki, Berlusconi would later acknowledge to journalists that he ate a fine meal of reindeer filet, salmon sandwiches, and a chocolate tart, per Very Finnish Problems