Friday, January 18, 2008

Pizza Nostalgia

When I got up this morning, I thought the sky looked the way it did when I lived in Oklahoma and it was about to snow, but no snow had been forecast, and it wasn't mentioned in the radio weather report on the clock radio. But then the noon news showed light snow on the radar, heading right toward me. I had errands to run, so I hurried out and now have groceries, but I haven't seen a single flake. I suppose it was good for me to have the incentive to just get out and go because I have a bad habit of getting sidetracked and goofing around until it's late. Plus, there was a tea emergency. How could I face possible snow without loose tea? However, even though I'd planned to treat myself by buying some of the good stuff, the only loose tea in the whole store was Lipton. Even the British section of the import aisle only had tea bags. I suppose if I want to treat myself in the future, I'm stuck going to a gourmet or import shop. I could have sworn that last time I bought tea in that store, they at least had some Twinings. Ah, well, I'm stocked up on Lipton for now.

And now for a pretty random topic. For whatever odd reason, the other night I suddenly desperately wanted pizza. I do eat frozen pizza (Red Baron only, which is pretty good if you bake it on a pizza stone) from time to time, and I even make pretty good homemade pizza, but I wanted really good pizzeria pizza, because you can't get quite the same effect with a home oven, even with a baking stone. And then I realized that what I wanted even more was to go out for pizza. But it doesn't seem like that's done much anymore. Pizza is something you order for delivery and eat at home, not something you go out for.

Ah, but back in my youth, pizza was an event. Going to Shakey's was a big deal, and at the one in Lawton, they even had a window where you could watch them toss the dough in the air to make the pizzas. That was a favorite place to go for birthday parties, and we didn't even need fancy videogames or animatronic animals. It was just pizza and root beer served at wooden tables in a sort of Olde English atmosphere with a touch of Dixieland (I have no idea why or how that related to each other or to pizza). The only "entertainment" was a player piano.

When I was in high school, delivery wasn't an option, as there was no pizza restaurant in town. You had to go out for pizza, and going out for pizza was a favorite thing to do. I'm sure some of that had to do with the fact that two of my best friends in high school were vegetarian for religious reasons, so we weren't exactly going to be hanging out in a burger joint, and pizza was something we could all enjoy. They had a Pizza Hut -- one of the old-fashioned kind with the red roof -- in the town north of ours, and that was a big family treat to go there, or I went with friends. Or if we went to the nearby city, there were a couple of good pizza places, one near each movie theater (one of them also near the mall). Going out for pizza and going to a movie or hitting the mall was our standard night out. Going out for pizza was also a standard church youth group activity. In college, there was actual pizza delivery, and we did a fair amount of that at the dorm, but for Sunday-night dinners (when they didn't serve dinner at the dorm), we'd occasionally trek over to Conan's pizza on the Drag. When I was right out of college, we used to have several Pizzeria Unos in the area, and that was where I often ended up with friends when we went out.

But now, it doesn't seem like there are too many places to go out for pizza anymore. The Unos have gone (except maybe the one in downtown Fort Worth), and even California Pizza Kitchen seems to have vanished (not that it ever counted). The last red-roofed Pizza Hut I knew of closed down when a group of employees was murdered there during a robbery. Now they pretty much just have takeout and delivery storefronts. Or there's fast-food pizza, with the "by the slice" or buffet places. There is a neighborhood Italian restaurant that has good pizza, but it's that ultra-thin crust type without a lot of cheese, not the kind you really sink your teeth into. The last time I went out for pizza in a way that felt like going out for pizza used to when it was a real treat was on a trip to Chicago a couple of years ago. It was cold and starting to snow, and we went to this incredible, perfect pizza place. I don't know of a good, real, old-fashioned pizzeria around here.

I think part of the appeal of going out for pizza was that it's something of a communal experience. Unless you're at a place that offers single-serving pizzas, you have to agree on what to order, and then you share the food from a common platter. The atmosphere is usually warm and cozy, often with booths, which adds to the sense of intimacy. I have so many great memories of good times spent around a pizza.

So, does anyone still go out for pizza anymore? Or do you just order it in these days?

1 comment:

Carradee said...

When my family lived in Wicliffe—near Cleveland, OH, and I might be misspelling it since I was 10 at the time—there was an eat-in pizza place we'd go to that I can pronounce but not spell. (Sounds like Petty's.)

My family tends to order in or get frozen pizza. If you have an Aldi near where you live, look for the Mama Cozzi (sp?) brand frozen pizza, in the green boxes. It's something like $3 a pizza, and I find it better than any other frozen pizza I've tried.

(Unfortunately, I can no longer eat anything with pig, so no more pepperoni or sausage pizza for me! Can't even pick it off; I'll still get sick. An unfortunate side effect of gall bladder removal…)

Well, I gotta go to work. Wouldn't be good to be late the first day of my second week at work…