Pizza is undoubtedly one of America’s most popular foods; some would argue that it’s “the” most popular American food. At any rate, pizza is one of America’s greatest inventions since the hot dog. Again, some would argue that it’s human civilization’s greatest invention since the wheel. Let the experts, pundits and know-it-alls say what they will. I say, Pizza is a Health Food!!!
If not for pizza, at least 25% of my teenage history, idled away in the neighborhood pizzeria (the jukebox playing my favorite songs), would have never existed. I would have to rewrite that entire portion of it, after putting so much careless effort into its creation.
Lenny’s Pizza Oasis was my venue for countless hours of baseball disputes with Tony “Romeo” and heated “existentialist” arguments with Louie “The Brain” and mind-boggling monologues with M&M (aka “Moochie the Moocher”). All of this as we awaited Terry the “Sidewalk Goddess” and Angie the ” Venomous Virgin” to show-up and provide us guys with technical support and sensual delusions.
Moving right along….
Pizza’s origins are vague and the word itself wasn’t recorded in the U.S. until 1935; the term “pizzeria” was first used in 1943 and “pizza parlor” in 1948. The most amazing thing is the way a portion of pizza is referred to in different parts of the country.
New Yorkers, then and now, always referred to a serving of pizza as a “slice.” Always and forever…to do otherwise would, on the streets of my proudly hackneyed Italian neighborhood, have one labelled as “strange”…maybe as a “Commie!”
Imagine my state of shock-and-awe when I first traveled to other parts of America and heard terms like “piece” and “cut” used when ordering the sacred “slice” of New York City’s own (as I’d once thought) creation. This was sacrilege of the highest magnitude. I, of all people, was look upon as “strange” (probably a Commie too) when I tried to order a “slice” of pizza.
If I were to travel back in time and reveal this cultural phenomenon to my beloved group at Lenny’s…WHAT would happen? Tony “Romeo” would work this talk of “cuts” and “pieces” into much ado about baseball, eventually telling me the story of the time Mickey Mantle autographed his baseball on Ball Day 1963, as he did thousands of times before. Louie “The Brain” would refer to Camus and Sartre and suddenly launch into his existentialist cantata about some tree falling in the forest and no one hearing it fall. The “Sidewalk Goddess” would simply look bored and bewildered and the “Venomous Virgin” would cast loving glances of hatred at me. Oh,…and M&M (Moochie the Moocher) would simply continue eating, if someone else was paying. Yes, those were the good old days…no matter how one cuts, pieces or slices it.