An ode to pizza

Today’s post is quite simply an ode to pizza. Oh pizza, how do I love thee. Let me count the toppings. There’s that tangy sweet sauce topped with ooey gooey cheese and from there the sky is the limit.

For folks of my generation it seems like pizza always existed. I remember my Mamma telling me a story though of the very first time she had pizza. In East Bend back in the ’50s and ’60s there wasn’t a place to get pizza. She had her first slice at a restaurant in Winston-Salem called Vincenzos. I remember her always saying she never had a slice quite as good as that very first one. That restaurant is still in Winston-Salem and Mamma still used to enjoy it, but I think there was something special and magical about that very first slice.

As for me, I don’t remember the very first time I had pizza. I do remember making it with my Mamma sometimes at home, which was sort of a special treat. I always wanted to help carefully place the toppings on top.

For most people who enjoy pizza, they are very specific about the toppings they want and they seldom veer from their favorite toppings. For my dad, it’s always pepperoni, sausage and green pepper. I think pepperoni may be the variable most people agree on, but even that you can’t say for sure. I’ll admit that I actually prefer mine without pepperoni. I can do plain cheese pretty much any time.

In recent years I have begun to enjoy my pizza with a variety of more unusual toppings. I started out with ham and pineapple, then added bacon (have I mentioned I adore bacon?). Now I love all sorts of out-of-the ordinary toppings. One of my favorite pizzas at a local restaurant in Elkin has macaroni and cheese on it. Let me say that again, pizza with macaroni and cheese on it! Yes, it’s quite amazing.

My other favorite pizza hails from an area winery and it’s topped with brie and bacon (yes, again there’s the bacon!).

Pizza lovers don’t always agree on the same toppings (thank goodness for being able to do half and half) and they probably also don’t even agree on the best type of crust. Thin, thick, chewy or more on the crunchy side. The diversity represented by pizza eaters and their likes and dislikes is unbelievable.

The thing about pizza, in my humble opinion, that makes it so special is that it’s such a sociable food.

I think about being a teen and having pizza parties. It’s always an easy dish to pick up on the way to a friend’s house to watch a favorite sporting event on TV or a movie. I’m sure when you think back to fun times celebrating special events or just hanging out with friends, there is a good chance there were some slices of pizza being passed around. Making pizza at home can also be a fun meal to get the kids involved with helping cook dinner.

So next time you enjoy a slice of pizza, even if you want something like anchovies on it, think about the magic that is this delicious dish that brings so many folks together.

There’s a great recipe for homemade pizza dough on one of my personal favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman. She says on her blog that she channels Lucille Ball, Vivien Leigh and Ethel Merman. I just channel the Pioneer Woman, minus that whole cattle ranch thing.

As for sauce, I normally cheat and buy a jar of pizza sauce, but I think making my own sauce would be fun. Let me know if you have a recipe. As for toppings when making pizza at home, I recommend getting a little out of your comfort zone and trying something other than the traditional pepperoni. I love caramelized onions, prosciutto and spinach on mine. And of course, there’s always bacon!

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