Man bakes pizza on lava, is a champion

David Garcia checks a pizza he is cooking on the lava rivers that come down from the Pacaya volcano, May 2021
David Garcia checks a pizza he is cooking on the lava rivers that come down from the Pacaya volcano, May 2021
Photo: JOHAN ORDONEZ / Contributor (Getty Images)

In my pizza days, I’ve been blessed enough to be able to use lots of different ovens: mobile ovens, giant deck ovens, tiny portable ovens, and a wood-fired oven straight from Naples, Italy. Hell, I tried making a pie in my microwave once (I do not recommend you do this). But one thing I haven’t done is bake off a pie on lava. I guess we have bucket lists for a reason.

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A man named David Garcia has figured out the way to bake a pizza on a river of lava at Pacaya volcano in Guatemala, AccuWeather reports. Garcia’s pizzas are sheet pan pizzas, so the dough has no direct contact with the lava. After stretching and topping the dough, he places the pan on the molten rock. Not only does he have to keep an eye on the pizza to make sure it’s not burning, he also has to make sure it doesn’t drift away.

“It was difficult for me to learn the technique here so the pizza doesn’t [get] burnt. And it is also a risk to be on the shore because it is at a high temperature of 1,500 to 2,000 degrees, so I have to watch the wind direction so it doesn’t affect me,” Garcia said.

After his first taste of lava pizza, though, he came to the conclusion that the risk was worth the slice.

Garcia was initially inspired by scientists in Iceland, who cooked hot dogs right off a pile of hot lava. “I took the idea and I wondered what else could be cooked with the lava,” he told AccuWeather. “So one day I prepared a pizza, took it to the volcanic rocks and in 14 minutes it was ready. The high temps from the nearby lava gave it an exclusive taste and an amazing crunch. I told myself, ‘This needs to continue.’”

He started this endeavor in 2013. By 2019, he had a little business called Pizza Pacaya, where he baked off pizza over volcanic stone and lava for tourists.

Tourist Kelt Van Meurs said that not only was the pizza tasty, but it had a “magmatic crunch.” The pies bake off in times as short as two minutes and forty seconds (compare that to one to two minutes for Neapolitan style pies) which means there’s no time to run off and enjoy the scenery while the pizza’s baking.

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You might be wondering about safety; Garcia knows the areas that are safer and away from any toxic gasses that the volcano sometimes produces. Then every day that he comes to the volcano, he’s got to gauge how to cook based off the flow of rocks and the temperature. Talk about a work hazard.

In late April the volcano reopened to tourists, and Garcia got back to being the world’s best volcano pizzaiolo. One day, I’m totally going.

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Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

manicotti
Manic Otti

Isn’t there a lot of gas and stuff that would make it smell/taste unpleasant?