THE BLOG
11/12/2013 06:24 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

'Where Do We Go For Decent Pizza?'

Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher were running a lucrative marketing business in Omaha, Nebraska, when, in 2001, they escaped the corporate grind and Midwestern winters and moved to Quito, Ecuador, as editors for InternationalLiving.com.

Since then they've traveled the world, researching and writing about living, working, and retiring abroad. They've lived in seven locations in four countries, and currently make their home in the Andean mountain village of Cotacachi, Ecuador.

For 32 years, InternationalLiving.com has been the leading authority on overseas retirement and lifestyle options.

This is one of the most common questions we hear new expats ask. Seriously.

They usually don't ask right away. It often takes a few weeks of settling in, of getting used to the local cuisine and poking around the local stores, cafés, and restaurants.

But sooner or later, almost everyone will wonder where to get a "decent pizza." In fact, many expat bulletin boards and Facebook pages for specific areas will have a FAQ section about restaurants in general and pizza in particular.

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Photo courtesy of Glynna Prentice, InternationalLiving.com

Does pizza itself have some kind of magic allure that casts an extended spell over so many recently relocated expats?

We don't think so. We think the use of the term "decent" explains a lot.

Pizza is essentially comfort food. For many, if not most, U.S. citizens, it carries with it a lifetime of associations with happy times and full stomachs... parties and get togethers, congenial late-night work sessions, relaxing weekends watching sports, special evenings at that favorite little Italian restaurant with family and friends.

Think of all the times you've been full, happy, relaxed, contented, and with good company, and pizza has probably been involved at least a few of those times.

And when new expats in a strange culture finally get their feet under them enough to establish a bit of a dependable routine and feel some control over their new environment... they often start to crave "decent pizza."

In other words, pizza that reminds them of the comfort, camaraderie, and familiarity they now have the time to start missing.

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Photo courtesy of Glynna Prentice, InternationalLiving.com

And believe us, a lot of the pizza you find outside the U.S. -- except in Italy, of course -- will not fit the bill of "decent" pizza for most new expats who crave it. The crust will be too thick or too thin or too chewy or too crispy. The sauce will be too sweet or too salty or too runny or too thick. And the toppings... especially the meats... will simply be strange.

Because every new expat will crave the style of pizza they associate most with friends, family, comfort, and home. Decent pizza. And the only place they'll be able to get a pizza that exactly fits the bill will be... you guessed it... back home.

However, in some cases, there will be "acceptable" pizza around... pizza made by a local who brought a recipe back from a restaurant they worked in abroad. Or pizza that an expat restaurateur has managed to create after getting a real pizza oven from somewhere and experimented for weeks with local ingredients.

And among the expats who have been in town the longest... among the old hands... this pizza will have become decent pizza.

So if you're new in town and you're looking for other expats... that is where you'll often find a good number of them.

Relaxing, enjoying each other's company, maybe even watching a game, and just getting comfortable with some decent pizza in their new home.

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