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??   😳

 

 

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Faded Fads

Rubik's

Fads seemed to have started in the early 20th century, when improved manufacturing processes finally allowed payment of more than starvation wages, and enough spare time to spend it.

(One of) The first was flagpole sitting. I think it started with one nerd without a girlfriend or a date, who couldn’t sit in his mom’s basement with a Gameboy, because they hadn’t been invented yet.  He nailed a big plank to the top of a municipal flag pole, so that he could sit in a snit.

Actually, the fad was watching flagpole sitters, where entire families would get dressed up, pack a picnic lunch, and stare adoringly for hours at some jerk who raised himself above the rest of the population and did nothing constructive.  I believe the record was 33 days – until Trump came along.

Soon after, the fad among fraternity boys became swallowing live goldfish, usually washed down with copious amounts of bathtub gin. Police suspect that alcohol may have been involved. During the 40s, the only fad was saving the free world from The Axis Powers – and drawing ‘Kilroy was here’.

Kilroy

Fads really came into their own in the 50s, when plastic made things light and cheap. First was the Hula Hoop, a barely disguised anti-obesity and fitness program.  We all know how well that worked.  Then along came the Frisbee.  It was possible to fling garbage can lids a considerable distance, but when Wham-O made them smaller and lighter, the number of broken windows, smashed flower gardens, and homes with brightly-colored, orphaned disks on their roofs, really skyrocketed.

There was the Slinky toy, a coiled spring that was smart enough to walk down a flight of stairs all by itself. It was replaced by contestants on The Bachelor.  We had mood rings.  Mine was always black, and in a bad mood, and I think it rubbed off on me.  Rubik’s Cubes showed us how things were always twisted and turned, and presented a different face.

Etch-A-Sketch came along, and it marked the limits of my technology. I could operate one of them, where I can’t run a Smartphone.  Lava lamps showed up.  I think mine sat on a fault line.  There was an underwater avalanche, and it never rose to the occasion again.

Pet rocks were a thing for a while. Mine got lonely, and ran away from home to join a parking garage.  Here in Canada, we had Ookpiks, an excuse to take the hides off baby seals and ship them to a factory in Calgary, where they were cut up and sewn back together to look like a small owl made by an Eskimo.  Sales peaked at 2 or 3 a week and then slowed down, and the tourist industry had to find new ways to separate gullible American tourists from their money.

Tamagotchis were hot with tween girls for a while. They were supposed to show the amount of time and effort necessary to raise a child, and hopefully reduce teen pregnancies.  After a few of them died of malnutrition, most young females just went back to boyfriends, who were lower maintenance.

Many fads have no staying power, and disappear quickly. I figure that the new electronic game, Pokémon Go won’t last more than a couple of weeks, when players do things like find a dead body, or get kicked out of a Holocaust Museum or a cemetery.

Selfies seems to be a fad which could have been devised by Darwin himself.  Hundreds of self-important fools have removed themselves from the gene pool.  Government agencies have had to put up signs that read effectively, “Not Here, Idiot!” and still many are too spaced-out to notice or heed them.  Tennis elbow and golf elbow have morphed into ‘selfie elbow’, caused by holding up a huge ego cell phone at an awkward angle, to take hundreds of meaningless photos.

Sadly, one fad that doesn’t seem to disappear is, The Kardashians.  We have now come full circle.  Here’s a group that’s lightweight and cheap, made mostly of plastic, and they have raised themselves above the common folk, to be gazed at adoringly for hours, without actually doing anything constructive.  😯

There must be some (lots?) that I’ve missed. What do you remember, that I’ve forgotten?

Oh, Grow Up!

Rink

On an irregular basis, the local newspaper allows 500-word articles from members of the Youth Editorial Board. These are intelligent high school students.  I am often impressed with their knowledge of social problems, and their mature suggestions.

I was recently sadly disappointed by a female Catholic student’s rant, titled Complaint About Rink, Masks a Bigger Problem.  A family in this hilly little town had found a large enough flat spot to build a small rink in their front yard.  By-law Enforcement had become aware of it, and the City gave them two weeks to dismantle it.

I share her opinion that Canadian kids are overweight and out of shape, and need all the outdoor exercise they can get. The City has sufficient good reasons to specifically make this behavior illegal, and mentioned several of them in their media release.  To ensure compliance, a possible fine was stated.

Not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, she went on to paint the family, not as lawbreakers, but as Phys-Ed heroes, and later, as downtrodden victims.

If she built a snowman on her lawn, would someone file a complaint about that too? If it were eight feet high and blocking sightlines at an intersection – Yes!

She felt that vanity(?) was triumphing over enjoyment.  All exercise and fun obtained in a back yard would be just as enjoyable – and less dangerous.

She felt it was unfair that they had to dismantle the illegal structure because just one person filed a complaint. It’s possible that the entire street narc-ed out these people, or that only one did, with the knowledge and support of many others. How dare the City threaten a fine?  It wouldn’t be imposed, if they just obeyed the directive.

The list of weasel-word excuses that she used to rationalize her denigration of the complainant was long and impressive. She listed: intimidation and oppression, lowering self-esteem, verbal and physical abuse, criticism can follow creativity, attack with negative words, victims, power and control, lonely perpetrator craving attention, jealousy, compensating for their own troubles, anger, unfair, bullying, and frustration.

The City’s main stated reason for not allowing this behavior centered around the 14 inch steel tent pegs used to anchor the frame boards. Things like this, driven into the ground, could damage telephone and cable lines, power cables, and water and sewer pipes.  These would not happen if the rink were situated in the back yard.

Not mentioned by the City, were things like wobbly figure skaters or body-checked little hockey players crashing into passing pedestrians and baby carriages, or even worse, onto driveways, as cars pull in or out. Hockey pucks or frozen rubber balls can break windows and dent cars and garage doors.  Kids chasing them into the street can easily be run over.

The midnight-shift worker who tries to sleep during the day would be none too pleased with a noisy crowd of kids beneath his front bedroom window. None of these things have anything to do with vanity or oppression, merely safety and good manners.

Just wait till she gets older, gets married and moves into her own little house in the suburbs, next to a neighbors-from-Hell family like the one she’s currently defending.  The people who casually violate City ordinances about front-yard rinks, do it so that their kids have fun, not so that neighbor kids get exercise.

These same people are the ones who own a dog which is tethered outside 24/7, to bark its head off, or a cat that they let run loose to shit in your carefully tended garden beneath your living room window. They think nothing of having an illegal campfire in their backyard, which fills your house with smoke, and forces you to close all your windows on otherwise lovely days.

They feel entitled to blast loud music from their stereo out through windows and French doors, all day and night, while they throw loud, drunken parties on their deck, or in the pool or hot-tub. Now who’s intimidating, oppressing or bullying?  Ah, the joys of living in the city, there’s one on every block.

When we moved in here, the 10-year old from across the street wanted to play one-on-one street hockey with his friend, using their driveway and ours as ‘goals.’ I told him clearly that I would not allow it.  I didn’t want our car, or the house, dinged and marked, or the work and expensive garden plants wasted and ruined.

We left to go shopping one day and came back to a hockey net blocking our driveway, and the two boys resting on the curb. He jumped up and moved the net – the first time. I repeated that it was ‘my’ driveway, and I didn’t want him playing here.

We had lunch and went back out. On returning the second time, there was the net, blocking our access again, and he was now too tired to get up and move the net.  My son got out of the car and threw it onto the boulevard.

Not five minutes later his mother came over to accuse the son of ‘putting a hole’ in it.  It’s a hockey net.  It’s all hole!  And I don’t care how much healthy exercise he’s getting, it doesn’t belong on my driveway.

I think our little ‘fitness and fun’ defender’s entire screed “masks a bigger problem.” She needs to grow up, and I think when she does, our rose-colored-glasses wearing, sheltered little Catholic, is in for some nasty surprises about urban reality.

Flash Fiction #52

Chain

PHOTO PROMPT – © C. Hase

SHIFTING SANDS

I finished reading my book, and I’m bored.  I’ll have some crackers.

LINK!

I’ll make a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  The bread is small.  I’ll make two.

LINK!

It’s TV commercial time.  I’ll eat a few chips.

LINK!

Doctor says my cholesterol level is normal, but the weight is creeping up.

LINK!

Abdominal fat surrounds and presses on organs, adversely affecting them.  Phooey!  I’ll live forever.

LINK!

And so, like Ebenezer Scrooge, our chains of obesity are acquired.  So easily gained, forged one link at a time.  So difficult to divest ourselves of.

Cast off your chains.  Be healthy.

The above is a somewhat distressing, very personal account of the five years since I retired, still eating as I did when I worked, but no longer working.  I would not insult by pointing fingers and using the ‘Fat’ word, just a gentle reminder, and a wish for the best for all.

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

#465