The Magic Food

As though part of some Jungian collective memory, I imagine all the people who used to go to Pizza Inn together after Sunday night church. What did they experience? My sisters and I, grade school students all, would stand mesmerized in front of the jukebox while Sugarloaf growled out Green-eyed-lady, Ocean lad-eh, our young faces glowing red and green in the light of the songboard. As much as I loved hymns, they had NOTHING on Sugarloaf, or Three Dog Night “Onnnnne is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as sad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number wunh-unnnnnne.”

Pizza Magic.

Memorized deep in my muscles is the feeling I had when we left Pizza Inn one Sunday evening only to find our car wouldn’t start. Never mind that we were only 9 miles from home and less than 2 to my grandma’s house. This tragic event had at least two of us girls scared enough to throw up all our pizza against the side of the building, as the starter clicked uselessly. Even after a jump a short while later (from the uncle who lived 2 minutes away), my little digestive system was terribly upset, so we had to stop in front of Kenwood Mall where I “fertilized” the bushes in front. Why we didn’t just drive the 400 feet back to the Pizza Inn so I could use an actual bathroom?

Pizza Magic.

My heart pitty-patted the evening I stood inside Pizza Inn waiting to pick up our “to-go” order and there was Larry Nelson, the one person in the universe who had had compassion on this awkward 12-year-old who had joined the diving team late one summer. The kindness he showed me was like breath after being submerged for far too long. And here he was, in Pizza Inn, and he talked to me. He was 16. I was 14. He was simply a boy who had a heart.

Pizza Magic.

We moved on from Pizza Inn when Dad remodeled a little restaurant into a pizza parlor called Everything But Anchovies. That was our favorite for quite awhile. Alas, the chef Mario was a wonderful cook, but not quite as good a businessman, and couldn’t make a go of it. He took his expertise and recipe to another local establishment, which we then began to frequent.

Pizza Magic.

Dad used to create a beautiful booth for the Home and Garden Show to show his wares. He allowed me, a fresh-faced fifth grader to help him work the crowd. Like lifeguards swinging their whistles in smaller and smaller concentric circles, he and I would flick our pieces of pleater back and forth, catching the eye of the unsuspecting crowd. Once we had their attention, I would flick the switch to open the draperies — one panel with the beautiful spring crest draperies, one panel with crummy old pinch pleats — out with the old, in with the new and they would be hooked. In our spare time, I would walk over to the LaRosa’s booth to get a free medium cheese pizza, which LaRosa’s was only too pleased to provide for booth owners.

Pizza Magic.

Once we had moved on from the church that had Sunday night church, we still got pizza, but we brought it home, along with various boyfriends and friends. Sunday nights were filled with pizza, pop, chips, and lots of stories about our family, with one sister acting out the hilarious pantomime of me trying to put my contacts in, which had never been easy for me. Into college, when I would get ready to go back to school after spending the weekend at home, Mom and Dad would often invite my ride to stop for pizza at our house before we left. 30 years later, I ran into a fellow at church who thought he recognized me and reminded me of the pizza he and his friend had had with my family before they drove me back to college.

Pizza Magic.

Going to school in Chicago gave me the opportunity to learn about Giordano’s which immediately became my favorite pizza ever. One of my first dates with Greg was to Giordano’s, and I noted that even the frost on the windows knew we were meant to be, as I could see the shape of two hearts in the frost.

Pizza MAGIC.

It’s no wonder Pizza is my favorite food in all the world. Every bite is filled with memories of wonder, tragedy, adventure, humor, and love.

And don’t even get me started on Tiramisu.

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