I blame Indiana Jones.
A ten year old me wanted nothing more than to roam the earth with Professor Jones (as I called him because I’d be a student, not a love interest) finding idols, grails and such things. So to prepare I did my best to research archeology; books, techniques and principles. Since Aunt Pearl could not be persuaded to take the annual family vacation to the Amazon (too many bugs), Egypt (too hot) or Ireland (who wants to see a bog?), I started excavating locations within my proximity – to help hone my “critical eye” (I was ten and this made total sense). I dug holes in the back yard, beaches, parks and occasionally at school – cataloguing everything I found buried and at what depth. When the authorities (parental and otherwise) figured out it was me digging – and not a rogue band of pooches – my work was curtailed.
My ambition didn’t even break stride.
I went to work with food. Nothing that wasn’t labeled a scramble, hash or came from a crock pot was safe from my analytical examinations. Lasagna, sandwiches, pies & cake – no meal featuring these items escaped my painstaking attentions (my Aunt forbade the use of a magnifying glass at dinner when I started telling everyone what her secret ingredients were). The food which drove my Aunt Pearl to distraction, however, was pizza.
I was meticulous and methodical. Starting with the top layer, meat – which if it was good – I would announce to everyone that there was something here worth digging for (didn’t matter if anyone was listening, I was to focused on my “research project”). Even if it was bad, I could continue on – I was a hungry ten year old kid and this was pizza after all – but I would narrate it a bit less. I think Aunt Pearl tried for a while to order pizza from Don John’s which wasn’t as good as Don Pedro’s, but my Uncle put a kibosh to that “nonsense”. I would pick the veggies off next, then I would then peel the cheese off (extra points if it came off in one sheet), then I licked the sauce off the crust, and finally finishing off the slice by rolling it up like a sleeping bag and gnawing on it. I did this with each and every piece – every time we ate pizza – dinner achieved new levels of obnoxiousness only a naive ten year old kid can muster (really, it only bothered my Aunt; my Uncle thought it was funny. I think this is why he started bringing a pie home every Friday). I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious. I was simply honing my scientific skills as best I could since my spade had been taken away (Uncle also didn’t mind my digging either, since it meant less lawn for him to mow).
This weekly event finally spawned a rare compromise from my Aunt. I could excavate my first slice to my heart’s content without her commenting – IF – I ate the rest like a normal person. This compromise quickly devolved into bargaining session which spanned an entire dinner (where my Uncle sat back trying not to burst a seam) until I did agree to limiting my scientific pursuits to the first slice. I also won my spade back! I could dig in the garden provided I helped weed it – with supervision (btw I think it is why my Aunt lobbied for a pool – less yard for me to dig up). My cousins sat awestruck at my audacity.
So why are my dinner time shenanigans important?
Pizza. Pizza is the key here.
Because when friends help friends move house they are fed pizza and beer as the reward for their extra effort.
It’s the law.
Some people swear by Chinese food, others go for giant sub sandwiches and some provide liquor and chicken wings.
I am a traditionalist.