Introduction To Pizza

One of my life-long friends from Somerset, Kentucky is Margaret Blaine Neikirk. Her parents and my parents were best of friends and we did many things together. The Neikirk family journeyed to Washington, D.C. every few years to visit the Duke family (originally from Somerset but living in our National Capital because Mr. Duke was a FBI agent, as I recall.) The Ramsey family (my sister, Joanne, and Blaine's sister, Glenda, were also closest friends) would be joining the Neikirks later on this vacation. I was probably about 14 years of age. Just before we departed to join the Neikirks and Dukes, we received a "long-distance" telephone call from the Neikirks who were already in D.C.

I spoke with Blaine who said, "Bill I am so anxious for you to try a new Italian dish we have discovered here in Washington. It is called Pizza Pie!"

In those days the only "Italian" food we had ever tasted was spaghetti. None of us had ever heard of pizza pie. I asked what kind of pie it was - of course our mothers (and grandmothers) made the very best in pies - pumpkin pies, apple pies, peach cobblers, rhubarb pie, etc. They all were very yummy desserts and I really was curious to try this new treat.

I asked, "What kind of pie is a pizza pie?"

Blaine answered, "It is a tomato and cheese pie."

I said, "Yuck! That sounds awful!"

Boy, was I wrong!

Years later we learned the Italian song made popular by Dean Martin - When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's "amore." Even later, I made pizza every Sunday for our family.

When I was teaching at my first full-time job at Kentucky Southern College (a new college, only in existence a few years) we were raising funds for a choir tour to the World's Fair in New York City. The college was so new that "after-hours" food was not yet available on campus, nor had delivery of pizzas emerged. We had the bright idea of making pizzas for the student body to purchase. Our house was adjacent to the campus which was convenient. I made all the sauce as well as the dough from "scratch." However we only had one oven which limited the number of pizzas we could produce in one evening. Individual choir members would "sell" pizzas in the dorm, run to our house with the "orders" and I would make the pizzas which would then be delivered to the dorm. I have no record of how many pizzas were made during that fund-raising, but the tour was a huge success.

When we lived in Rome, Italy we learned so much more about Italian food and especially, pizza. It was somewhat different from its American counterpart, but even more wonderful. We especially loved pizza bianca (the pizza dough, rosemary, olive oil and salt - but no tomato sauce.) We had a wonderful bakery just around the corner from where we lived. We visited the shop daily. All kinds of pizza is still a major part of our lives.

On our honeymoon in San Diego, someone mentioned a place where we should go to eat. It wasn't a restaurant, but it wasn't a food truck either. It was outside and it served Mexican food. The only Mexican food I had ever eaten was when Dad would open a can of Hot Tamales. I believe that Hormel was the maker, and there were probably about 6 hot tamales in each can, each wrapped in some kind of paper and covered with sauce.

The outdoor food stand served a thing called tacos and they had another delicacy we had never experienced - corn chips. We loved both the tacos and chips with salsa (I learned that new word, also) and longed for the time we could have this food back home.

My how times have changed!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. - Mark Twain

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