Nostalgia and the Onset of Cravings
If you know me at all, you know that I have a deep-rooted, hunger-fueled, lip-smacking love for pizza. In past posts I’ve compared the Chicago variety and celebrated the week-long national holiday in its honor, as well as hypothesized on the childhood origins of this pizza passion. My wife not only knows this all too well, but is also quite adorably encouraging of my pizza fixation. For Christmas she gave me one of the most unique and pleasantly unexpected gifts I’ve ever received: a scrapbook of all the pizza encounters we’ve documented during the course of our relationship (and we’ve documented quite a bit).
When we were first dating while living in Springfield, MO, it was my personal goal to visit and rate every single pizzeria in the 417. Nikki not only latched onto this but encouraged me to take photos of my conquests and soon it became a special shared weekly ritual for us to go out and try a new place every Monday on her day off from work. Shortly into our relationship I introduced her to my favorite gorge-fest: the annual Pizza Bowl*. Every year Springfield pizza restaurants would gather for one night to compete with their products. A $10 ticket got you in the door to sample and rate all of the pizza you could eat, and all of the money raised went to combat illiteracy in Greene County. As we embarked on deputation, finding the best renowned pizzerias wherever we went became a fringe benefit to all of our traveling.
Nikki quite cleverly compiled all of these photos into one place, with plenty of room for future pizza-related memories to add to this fond look back on past feasts. Is it weird that as I glance through these pages, I can remember every single pizza, every single restaurant, the circumstances and the cities that each took place in?
The other pizza-noteworthy mention that coincides with this blog occurred last Friday while we were browsing in Borders. Nikki came across the perfect magazine for me! The perfect companion to my pizza scrapbook, this quarterly publication has it all: a history of pizza development; a thorough examination of all the different styles of pizza, crusts, sauces, and regional flavor flair; a listing of the Top 50 pizzerias of every region of the U.S.; and cooking tips and recipes to help make the best homemade pizza possible.
That last one interests me the most. In preparing to move to the Philippines, I know from personal experience that my pizza options are limited. Sure they’ve got Shakey’s and Pizza Hut, both of which are fine pizza institutions dating back to the 1950’s (although I’ve personally never had the opportunity to try Shakey’s outside of the Philippines), and they are good. True, there’s a Sbarro’s in Mega-Mall, a perfectly good mall pizza option, although I’ve heard past horror stories from the Lyons family concerning that particular eatery that might make me steer clear. And yes, they even have California Pizza Kitchen at the Shangri-La Mall, which is probably the best-tasting option for great pizza that I’ve come across in Manila. But all of that lacks the charm and that unique, individualized flavor that only a local homespun pizzeria possesses, the likes of which can be found all across our nation.
So I have a personal goal to learn how to make fantastic homemade pizza the likes of which will rival any pizzeria. In so doing, I will be able to pass along my love for pizza to my children one day. I can’t wait to give some of these recipes a whirl and experiment on making the perfect homemade pizza. I will be sure to keep you updated on that endeavor.
* In fact, even as I wrote this I realized that tonight, Jan. 27th**, the Pizza Bowl was currently in progress in Springfield and I had nothing here in KC preventing me from driving down and celebrating with a handful of pizza. I can’t express how much I wish this realization had dawned on me 6 hours earlier.
** Correction: the Pizza Bowl will be on Feb. 2nd this year, so I still have time to make arrangements to be there. If you live in Springfield, I highly recommend you check it out as well.