A To Z Challenge – P

april-challenge

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. This thing starts with

letter-p

PIZZA

pizza

Pizza, in one form or another has been around for centuries – Hell, millennia. People in the Middle-East baked round flatbread, and then put ‘stuff’ – highly technical term – on it to eat, vegetables, a bit of meat or cheese, some spices and oil.  The ancient Sumerians and Greeks both had a word which sounds very much like ‘pizza’, and meant bit, or bite, or mouthful.

The Greeks taught the Romans, and the tradition entered what would become Italy. The dish didn’t change much until the 1500s, when the ruling class of Naples got ahold of it.  Now, spiced meats, sauces, and other toppings were placed on unbaked bread dough and put into the oven.  No-one seems to know who came up with tomato sauce, or when.  Ooey-gooey-good Mozzarella cheese came into being, and, what had been a simple meal for simple peasants, became a gourmet meal for the nobility.

Pizza came to North America in the 1880s, with the wave of Italian immigrants. The first pizzeria in the USA was Lombardi’s, in New York City, in 1905, no matter what the bent-nose bunch in Chicago claim.  At last count, there were just over 200 pizzerias in NYC, and scores of various restaurants which include it on their menu.

It remained largely a cheap meal for Italians. ‘Pieces’ came into being when poor laborers couldn’t even afford a whole pie, but still needed some food.  Pizza didn’t really enter the American consciousness until the mid-1940s, when Servicemen returned from the Italian Campaign.  It’s sad that it took a World War to popularize one of the greatest fast-foods.

Do-gooders have decried pizza, along with the likes of chips and pop, in their fight against obesity. It took the American Council of Dieticians to point out that it’s actually one of the best foods for us.  It contains bread, vegetables, meat and cheese, all the four food groups.  Eating too much of anything will make you fat – but man, what a way to go!!

Some folks insist that there’s a ‘standard’ pizza, but after 3000 years, it’s still, ‘whatever you put on it.’ Area differences appear – pineapple and mango??  If I want a fruit salad, I’ll order a fruit salad.  To me, anchovies have all the attraction of salted eyelashes.  I prefer smoked bacon to bland ham, and add pepperoni, mushrooms and hot Italian sausage to my usual order.

New York style pizza has a thin, pliable crust, and slices are folded over, to eat on the move, with one hand. Hillary Clinton recently did this, while Donald Trump cut his into pieces and ate them with a fork.  Way to show the average Joe that you’re just like him, Dumb Don.

The same thing can be achieved when the chef folds a small ‘pizza’ over, into a half-moon shape.  If it is then baked, it is called a panzerotti.  If it is deep-fried, it is a calzone.  I love me some nice crisp calzones with marinara sauce.

The pizza chefs of Chicago went a different route. They created Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  The crust is as thin and pliable as New York, but it is baked in a cake-pan type dish.  The rims are raised an inch or more and toppings are shoveled in like they were disposing of evidence.

They’ve even created a Stuffed Pizza. It’s built upside-down.  The ‘toppings’ are placed on the bottom, and ‘some’ sauce and cheese are added.  Then, a second crust is laid down over them, and sealed to the sides.  A steam vent hole is cut in the middle, so that it doesn’t explode, and more sauce is ladled on.

When that baby is cooked and cut into pieces, you don’t handle a slab of it with one hand.  If Donald Trump shows up, you can tell him to, “Fork you!”

There are a myriad of variations of pizza, limited only by your imagination. There’s thick crust, and thin crust.  There’s edgeless, and stuffed edges.  Your choice of toppings can make one very cheap, or very expensive.  I prefer my shrimp with tangy seafood sauce, on a bed of shredded lettuce, not on my pizza, and I can’t begin to afford black truffles or red-wine-soaked brie.

Five-cheese pizza is just silly. Unless you have an epicure’s taste buds, after two, all you can taste is Cheese.  Climb down off your pretentious unicorn and just order extra mozza.   I like a bit of grated parmesan on top of everything else.

Well class, that’s enough discussion about pizza for today. Thanx guys, for reading my stuff.  I’m a little hungry.  I think I’ll go out for some lunch.  Anybody want a burger and fries??   😳

 

 

Flash Fiction #118

trading-post

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

FADED GLORY

Two hunnerd years ago, there’d be 20,000 buffalo out there. It’d take ‘em all day to amble past.

150 years ago, it’d be 10,000 head of cattle bunchin’ up, to be driven to Chicago.

Almost a hunnerd years ago, they built this here ROOT 66, ta get from Chi-town, out to Californie.  Any given day, there’d be 5,000 cars passin’, lots faster than buffalo or cattle.  Enough of them stopped here, to make this place a gold mine. “Last chance for gas for 100 miles.”

Them glory days is done. Nowadays, it’s tough to get a tumbleweed to stop here.

***

Got to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Archonology – The Next Generation

 

A couple of years ago, I wrote of finding an old English bus ticket from 1942, in an old book. If you didn’t read the post, you’ll have to take my word for it because, despite my impressive filing system, I can’t seem to find it.

Like father – like daughter.  Recently, LadyRyl picked up an old hard-cover book at a Thrift Store.  As she was reading it, out popped an old post card.  Anybody remember them??

Image

Isn’t this darling? And isn’t that pile of concrete impressive?  It has all the architectural magnificence of a Russian tenement.  What a building!  You just know that important stuff happens in there every day.  Stuff like….merchandise marting.  Kind of like the Pentagon of its day.

Image (2)

Here’s the back, where the more interesting, human-interest stuff shows up. It was mailed on Jan. 9, 1946, from Chicago.  Who wants to be in Hell-frozen-over Chicago in January?  Sent home to Grand Rapids, Michigan – a 185 mile, 3-hour drive these days, but probably most of a day, back before Interstates.

It was sent to ‘Bobby’, but the phrase “be a good girl” says that she was Barbara Jane.  It cost a whole penny for the stamp to mail it.  Back before ZIP-codes were even a gleam in a bureaucrat’s eye, it was addressed to Ward (8) in Grand Rapids.

The aunt and uncle senders were Val & Al – too cute for words. I don’t think Big Al had much to do with this piece of mail.  Aunty says she tried to call Bobby’s father, “but the line was busy.”  The entire family seems well enough off to afford a trip to Chicago, and a telephone when most folks didn’t have them.  I’m amazed that the phone was busy.  Without Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, what could they have had to yak about?

It’s not quite as old as my bus ticket, but it’s further before her birth, than mine was for me.  Like me, Ryl is guarding and preserving this piece of historical ephemera.  It speaks quietly from the past, of a society and lifestyle, a little more gracious and courteous, and far less crowded and frenetic than the ‘modern’ one we endure today.

More Thoughts On Gun Control

Colt 1911

GUN CONTROL?? WHAT ABOUT ABSENT FATHERS?

Do we want to solve gun violence, or do we just want to engage in useless bluster?

Whenever a terrible shooting takes place, in Toronto, or an American city, the gun control enthusiasts rush to the podium to bang their fist and display their anger.

Recently, US President, Barack Obama reacting to the mass shooting in Oregon that left nine people dead, said: “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.

He meant gun laws.

But another display of emotion won’t make gun control work.

The guns are not the problem, but they are an easy target, and politicians, like water, seek the easy course.

If gun control worked, Chicago would not experience the violence that it does. If gun control worked, the Toronto Sun would not have reported, in mid-July, that “The 227 shooting victims so far this year are 31 more than the total for all of 2014.””

Toronto and Chicago have gun control. Murder is also ‘controlled’.  It is illegal!  The problem is deeper and more complicated than the tool that is used.  But it is politically correct to blame the gun.  It is less so, and therefore fraught with political danger, to talk about family breakdown.

An article in The Federalist by Peter Hasson notes: “Violence?  There’s a direct correlation between fatherless children and teen violence.  Suicide?  Fatherless children are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.  Dropping out of school?  71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless families.  Drug use?  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”

How about guns? Two of the strongest correlations with gun homicides are, growing up in a fatherless household and dropping out of school, which is itself directly related to lack of an active or present father.

So what can we do to encourage young people to avoid single parenthood and to encourage responsible fatherhood? How do we keep young men from having to search for belonging and acceptance from other young men in a gang?

We should be as critical of the choices that lead to kids having babies as we are of guns, but politicians mostly recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they try this approach.

What about mental health? Are we willing to address that issue?  In theory the people are, but are politicians willing to make the necessary choices in priorities, and are we willing to stop putting money into parties like the Pan Am Games, and instead, adequately fund mental health programs?

Apparently not!

Too many things have already gone wrong before a young man picks up a gun and attacks his fellow human beings with the intent to kill. It’s a good thing to talk about fathers, mental health, conflict resolution, employment, mentoring, or whatever anyone can come up with towards achieving the common goal of ending gun violence.

The people whose first, and often only ‘solution’, is more gun control, when it clearly doesn’t work, are not to be taken seriously. Murder is illegal, and most guns used in shootings are illegally held under present gun laws.  We want young people to grow up, so let’s be grown-up about real solutions.

***

With many thanks to Gerry Agar, a Toronto Sun columnist and radio talk-show host, for some interesting and lucid thoughts about guns and social violence.

Flash Fiction #47

Hawaii

PHOTO PROMPT – © Douglas M. MacIlroy

PER ARDUA AD ASTRA

When Bob heard that he’d been awarded an internship at the Moana Kea Observatories in Hawaii, he thought he was going to Heaven.

When his boss picked him up for work the first night, he found out that Hawaii has six of the seven global climate zones.  There are no deserts, but it ranges from Tropical, to Arctic where he would be working.

With frigid fingers, he quickly called his Mom in Chicago to send his winter coat, but the views were well worth the trouble.  He could see Heaven spread out below him, and Heaven in the stars above.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

And if I’d been born rich, instead of so darned handsome, I’d be living near lucky Doug MacIlroy in Hawaii, where he was fortunate enough to snap this awesome photo.

#448

 

Flash Fiction #34

Desolation

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GRASS IS GREENER

As Bob stood waiting for his fiancée and her parents to arrive for dinner, he thought of his old friend Paul. He missed his childhood buddy, but he was glad he hadn’t gone with him to Chicago.

Ugh, Chi-town, cold, windy and bleak.  Route 66, indeed.  New York City was the center of the universe.  He’d done well enough in advertising to afford this fine apartment in a prestigious building on Central Park.  Too bad he couldn’t get one with a view of the Park.

He had added mums to his end of ‘the courtyard’, but somebody kept stealing them.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple website and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Flash Fiction #33

Rt. 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Get My Kix

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and he was glad that his first step had been where the signs were clear and not vandalized, or he’d have never found Chicago.

“Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted.”
Leave Bill Posters alone, he’s a nice guy.

Dial 312-555-7890 – Ext. 257.  When prompted, enter #M for Murder.
PayPal and MasterCard accepted.  Please have valid card with account numbers handy.

You’re not in Kansas anymore RoFo.  The cold rushing winds in the skyscraper canyons swirled his mind worse than any tornado.  How would the small-town boy survive in the big city?

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site, and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.