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SLICES/CUTS/PIECES OF PIZZA

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
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 and know-it-alls say what they will: Pizza is a Health Food!!!

If not for pizza, at least 25% of my teenage history, idled away in my 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 (”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, in my proudly hackneyed Italian neighborhood, have one marked 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” (yes, I said it) 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 about the day 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,…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.

[An excerpt from ON BORROWED TIME IN BROOKLYN, the novel I'm currently working on...which explains my current state of insanity.]
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Comments

  1. sprinks's Avatar
    mmm.... piiizzzza.... That got me thinking though - I think here in general it's a slice... or a piece.... Never heard anyone call it a cut though. No matter what it's called it still tastes good!
  2. 's Avatar
    Sorry to rain on your parade, but Americans didn't invent the pizza, the Italians did. The pizza was "invented" as a food tribute to Queen Margherita of Italy, and incorporates the red (tomato), white (mozarella cheese) and green (basil) of the Italian flag, hence the pizza "Margherita". It is likely, though, that the pizza predates even this incarnation but it is the Italians who popularised and standardised it, developing the Pizza Neopolitana (from Naples), Sicilian Pizza, etc, etc. It's all in the names. Not that I'm a pizza stalker or anything...or even slightly obsessive about it?!??!? Oh, and it's likely that the hotdog was German in origin i.e the "Frank" (sort for Frankfurter, origin...Frankfurt).
  3. andave_ya's Avatar
    YES!! An excerpt from your novel!! THANK YOU! See, I knew I was right; it's an interesting literary endeavor (my goodness, every time I use a semicolon I think of you )
  4. andave_ya's Avatar
    YES!! An excerpt from your novel!! THANK YOU! See, I knew I was right; it's an interesting literary endeavor (my goodness, every time I use a semicolon I think of you )
  5. GrayFoxDown's Avatar
    Even though the origins of pizza (and pizza as we know it today) remain a matter of conjecture, this post wasn't meant as an academic dissertation. Thanks for the feedback, Bii; and no "rain" fell on a "parade" that is mostly fictional and light-hearted in nature.

    Thank you, Sprinks. A slice of pizza is called a "cut" in cities as close to New York as Newark, New Jersey...at least, when I was there. However, we're certainly in agreement that it "still tastes good" and always will.

    Yes, Andave, my current post on my confused website. Think of me but don't blame me for the semicolon's complexities. Thanks, my friend.
  6. Virgil's Avatar
    Bii is right that it probably dates way back. Pizza means pie in Italian, so any type of pie is a pizza. If you go to Italy you will find all sorts of pies made from dough and toppings. You can read through the history of pizza here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Histo...zzaHistory.htm. In there it also states that the first US pizzaria was in Manhattan's Littly Italy section:
    1905 - Gennaro Lombardi claims to have opened the first United States Pizzeria in New York City at 53 1/2 Spring Street. Lombardo is now known as America's "Patriaca della Pizza." It wasn't until the early 1930s that he added tables and chairs and sold spaghetti as well.
    I've been there. I always had a sneaky suspicion that they were inflating their claims of being the first, but now that it's here on the internet, I guess it has some more credibility. Oh and by the way, I've eaten pizza in many parts of the US, and nobody, but nobody, has better pizza than New York City.
  7. GrayFoxDown's Avatar
    I had pizza in cities such as Rome, Paris and London, in addition to many US cities. I agree, Virgil, that New York City has the best pizza. But that's mostly due to our being born and living here...especially New Yorkers who, very often, foolishly believe that NYC is the "world" to the exclusion of everything outside its limits. This post (a sketch, in fact) is just one of many at my website, The Electric Egg Cream, which I draw from and expand on to express this idea throughout the course of my novel (hopefully it'll be completed and published in less than 300 years or so). In any event, all this talk of pizza and that site you referred me to, really got me hungry and I (and my English wife Steffie, a convert to the greatness of New York pizza)) happily indulged in a pepperoni and mushrooms pie earlier. (Joy of joys, we don't have a weight problem!!!)
  8. B-Mental's Avatar
    Nice entry GreyFox... My father has a pizza named after him. The Mouse Pizza. Its Kosher Salami and Pepperoni on thin crust. It must be cooked to the edge of burned, and also cut into small pieces. Its a little greasy, and we would always pull the center pieces out to the edge of the tray to let the grease run off. The most amusing thing about it is that the pizza place that still carries the pizza ended up moving into a small strip mall just a block away from my Mother and Father's house. I always need to get one when I get back home. Cheers mate, B
  9. B-Mental's Avatar
    I also love how you predicted that Virgil would make the lame claim to the best pizza in the world. There is a pizza in Louisiana called a Marie Leveau. Its blue crab on a white sauce. Sorry Virgil, but once again you are wrong. I've had New York pizza, and I thought it was tasteless and bland.
  10. Virgil's Avatar
    I was in New Orleans once and while I didn't have pizza I had some sort of specialty sandwhich that began with a "m" I think and had everything under the sun in it. Just looked it up. It's a muffaleta: http://neworleanscuisine.blogspot.co...ta-recipe.html. But I could tell from the dough it was not what I would consider up to New York standards. Now New Orleans does have a good size Italian-American population that goes way back, so i may be surprised. If I ever go back I'll try a slice. But until then, New York Pizza Rules!!! And not just New York, but pizza from Brooklyn.
  11. GrayFoxDown's Avatar
    What do my eyes behold: NYC pizza called "tasteless and bland"!!! I hereby challenge you, B-Mental, to a duel ...MEATBALLS at twenty paces!!! Thanks for the feedback, B. Pizza is certainly up there with issues like sex and politics in attracting spirited controversy and interest.
  12. kiz_paws's Avatar
    Oh your closing paragraph is a dilly -- Loved IT! Now, you all should stand back and take note -- the best SLICES of pizza come from an Icelandic community in the North of my province. Sorry to burst your bubbles! Oh, and nothing but nothing tastes better on a pizza than Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Why? No one knows, but try it! [I am sooooo tempted now to order a pizza from who ever will deliver it the fastest, ha ha, see what you have done, Michael?]
  13. Virgil's Avatar
    After this discussing this entry yesterday, I had to go an have pizza for lunch. New Jersey pizza (I work in New Jersey) isn't bad. They've picked up the New York City skills.
  14. GrayFoxDown's Avatar
    Kizzie, my friend, thank you. I never tried Frank's Red Hot Sauce on pizza, but I'm game and will give it a try. However, the pizza parlor in the north of your province would be a "little" difficult for me to locate and to experience. Do they deliver to Brooklyn? The Muffaletta looks good indeed (we'll give that a try) and B-Mental's Mouse Pizza is a unique spin on the traditional pie. NYC has so many assorted types of pizza parlors, I believe that B couldn't have eaten in one of the better places with his criticism that pizza here is "tasteless and bland." But with all this talk of pizza, Steffie and I are having Chinese Food today.
  15. Virgil's Avatar
    Not sure if Grey Fox comes back, but I did see this thread come up again and had to add something. While in Chicago last week, I tried their famous deep dish pizza. It was good but it wasn't New York pizza. New York's is still the best.