The pizza test

Although of average size and appetite, it was my first sight of a Tongan pizza that truly drove home how reedy and insubstantial I must appear to the bountifully-proportioned inhabitants of this languid Pacific island kingdom.

In the Tongan language, big is beautiful. However, their king recently slimmed down from 217kg to 127kg, urging his 100,000 subjects to follow suit. Government weight charts have been distributed and a national slimming contest is under way.

Mindful of that but ravenous after touring the main island of Tongatapu, itself as flat as a pizza pan, I chose the Italian restaurant on the Nuku’alofa waterfront for my evening meal. The Tongan capital can boast more churches than most towns but it’s hardly blessed with fine diners. A simple pizza seemed the best bet.

As everywhere in Tonga, I was warmly welcomed. The friendly locals would have the brightest, whitest teeth and the widest mouths in the world. A waitress beamed, one tooth glinting gold. Gold inlays, I had discovered, are a beauty fetish among Tongan women, and they are, indeed, quite fetching. I ordered a bottle of Royal, the local malty brew, and a pizza.

The waitress studied me for a moment, then shook her head. “You can’t have,” she said.
I was taken aback. “Why not? Have you run out?”

“We have pizza, but you can’t have,” she replied. I insisted on knowing why.

“You’re too small,” she said with some embarrassment, eyes downcast.

“Too small! What do you mean?”

“You can’t finish it, it’s too big,” she explained, by now struggling to keep a straight face. “We only do one size. It’s too big for you”. Contact me for complete article