Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory. Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.
As I start this out, I can’t help but think, “How do you not write in your own voice?” It would be more of a challenge to write in someone else’s voice. But I suppose some people have a hard time being themselves. Very well.
The food I chose to write about is hardly a meal, but is the only thing that I could think of to touch on the important points. Pizza. We had it on birthdays, we went out top celebrate performances, honor roll, the end of a school year, the beginning of one, a new job, telling an old one to bugger off. Pizza has always been a way to relax after a long day, a comfort when I’m just not in the mood for anything else.
It hasn’t always been the cheep kind, either. Sure, I could have Little Caesar’s in my stomach in under thirty minutes (half that if I go by myself, don’t dress up fancy, and eat in the car), but there’s also $30 pies out there that I could drive an hour to get to and relish every bite of. Fancy restaurants have thought up ways to doctor up pizza so it’s worth charging more for, or so that it fits their menu and theme. You can go almost anywhere and find something based around pizza (bread, cheese, tomato sauce).
When I was a child, we and jumped when they made pizza rolls. I can’t imagine eating them now, but I was almost as excited for them as I was for actual pizza. Then there were pizza bagel bites. Very creative. Personal pizzas, Mexican pizza (really a glorified tostada, but still delicious), white pizza, margherita, pesto… I even worked in a pizza restaurant for a while (too bad it wasn’t a very good one, and I will not be sharing the name).
Pizza on my birthday meant games and rides– and tickets!! Pizza when my mom worked late meant sub-par grease-soaked pan pizza (as popular as deep-dish is, baking it with an inch of oil in the pan does more to fry the bread than anything). Pizza when I worked late ended up getting me questioned on why I didn’t bring a personal pizza home for anyone else (yes, sadly, for a while it meant a bit of strife with my family). What is a home without a frozen pizza in the freezer? The baking kind or the microwave kind. I suppose that’s less of a big deal these days, given all the take-and-bake pizzas that you can get. They are pretty comparable to the frozen kind, but with a better stigma attached to them. ‘Fresh’ is a big deal these days.
Pizza has also given me something to do in the kitchen. When I got my breadmaker, I saw that it had a setting for dough. Now, I have made dough by hand. Or tried to, at least. I had the yeast and the flour and the warm water. I kneaded it, got my hands sticky, got flour everywhere. For all the effort I put in, it did not turn out well. I tip my hat to bakers who can do it by hand, including those of centuries past. It isn’t for me. I love doing things by hand, but this is where I draw the line. So I enjoy the pizza dough that my breadmaker produces for me. Then I make the rest of the pizza myself. It’s great! A lot of work, but worth it in the end.
There’s a lot of different kinds of pizza out there. New York style, Chicago style, special water, custom pans. Cheese in the crust, no crust, meaty, vegetarian. I’ve even had macaroni pizza recently. It sounds crazy, but it was… fascinating. When I took a vacation to Portland, there was a place that was known for making all sorts of strange pizzas. Daily specials, so to speak. I didn’t get a chance to try their alligator pizza, but it was still a memorable trip. I can have pizza by itself, or with salad, or with buffalo wings. It’s always good fun, even if it’s just something I grab on the way home from a long day at work to get me through the evening.