Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Culture shock; or, Something is seriously amiss with my comfort food.

Pizza.  It is amazing how one simple word conjures up such a multitude of complexity.  Seemingly  a simple combination of ingredients, yet the execution of producing an acceptable pie often results in the most absurd culinary contortions.

Hop a flight to The Eternal City of Rome and revel in the wonderfully direct presentation.  In it's simplest form, the pizza margerita, gives you a portable portion of hand tossed dough, sauce and cheese and baked to golden perfection.

Drive to New York City or Boston's North End and make a meal of only one gargantuan slice.  Do yourself a favor and avoid California unless you feel the need to inundate your pie with tofu, sushi or any other assemblage of organic, feel good toppings.

Now I find myself mired on the morass of the Midwest's feeble attempt at producing a pizza pie of acceptable quality.  First, allow me to qualify something.  I understand Deep Dish pizza.  Really, I do, and it is quite tasty.  But I rarely have the time to wait 45 minutes for the thing to bake.  And ordering separate pizzas for everyone at the table at $15 each is a hassle.  That's $60 for a family of four-for pizza! Face it, everyone wants something different, so we usually end up with just cheese. Please excuse me while I yawn.

So when we are moving into our new home, we decide to order some pizza for all the generous helpers.  No one turns down free pizza and cocktails after a long days work, right?  So I order up 5 extra large pies with a couple ingredients each.  Now don't get me wrong.  I am  grateful beyond words for all the work done, but $125 later and I am in sticker shock.  Too late to turn back, and we are certainly famished at this point, we make the pickup.  In a Mustang. With no back seat.  And the pizzas are served in.......bags.  How in the name of all that is holy do I carry 5 pizzas slid into BAGS!?!?!?  My only assumption is people can only afford one pizza at a time, so the transportation dilemma has not arisen as of yet.  Either that or bring the whole family for the pizza run.  Or possibly hire one of those plate spinning acrobats from the chinese circus to make the delivery.

Somehow we managed the trek back home, saints be praised,  when upon opening the hot steaming bags, we encountered the MOST HEINOUS of all pizza crimes ever seen by this author.  Each circle of sauciness was chopped into dinky little SQUARES.  Holy geometry Batman, what are these people thinking?  How does one maneuver this madness into ones mouth, we pondered?  Where is the crusty handle?  Where are the toppings?  (Under the cheese it turns out, where they lie hidden, shielded from the heat of the oven.  Why again are they called toppings, I ask?)  Where did we pack the dishes and forks so we can maneuver the only available food into our hungry mouths without making a kindergarten size mess of ourselves?

Questions flew through our collectively befuddled brains while staring agog at the sudden puzzle placed before us.  Fortunately,  a native Hoosier was in our midst and attempted to throw some light on our clouded brows.  "That's so you don't have to eat the crust if you don't like it", he explained.  Hmmmm, that seemed to make sense, almost.

Trying to apply some logic to this simple statement resulted in the Vulcan side of my temporal lobe to momentarily become lost in circular loop.  To whit, if one does not like crust, one can simply select a square of pizza sans crust.  Fine.  However, what if a crust hater inadvertently selects a  crusted bit of pizza?  Is he then compelled to consume the crust against his wishes?  Can he not put aside the offending crust and select another morsel?  Similarly, if a pizza pie is cut into slices similar to the remainder of the civilized world, would the crust hater abstain from eating due to excessive crust contamination?  Likely not, as I am certain Miss Manners would allow the offending bit of dough to placed discretely to the side of the plate.  However, the remainder of the population that finds crust not only acceptable, but desirous, must skirt the edges foraging for leftover bits and pieces.

I say, let the pizza be sliced as it was intended!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Up and running

Good morning!  I am thoroughly perplexed how to start organizing the swirl of thoughts I have, so I think I will have a go at explaining the title of this blog.  How did I become a Hoosier?  It is all the fault of a drum kit I loaned to a friend about 15 years ago. 

A friend and I both worked for the same company, his son wanted to play, the kit was collecting dust due to the demands of my job, so off it went.  Not here in Indiana, but back East in Cheektowaga, NY, a suburb of Buffalo.  The name is supposedly Native American (you know, Indian) for "Land of the Crab Apple".  Lots of Indian names in that area; Tonawanda, Lackawanna, Scajaquada, Catteraugus.  You get the idea, nice long phonetic names.  Quite a contrast to the numerous French names here in the Midwest; Des Moines, Des Plaines, Bourbonnais, Joliet, many of which do not follow French pronunciation and are disagreed upon by the local inhabitants.  Yet the Indian names are Iroquois, which looks very French to me.  Puzzling, and my sincerest apologies including the French at this early juncture.  I hope to avoid them in the future.

Anyway, when I tried to recover the drums for my own use, I found my friend had been transfered to the Chicago area to direct an acquisition.  Several months of cajoling convinced him to bring me along as well.  It was a great opportunity at the time, since I had acquired a wife and two children.  One weekend of touring 27 different homes and we found our new homestead on the prairie.  A lovely little "trilevel", which I believe is French for "looks bigger than it is".  The move from New Jersey where I had been working temporarily for 3 years, to Indiana went smoothly and we were soon firmly ensconced in our first home. 

One friend, no family and the golden promise of a bright future!