I grew up in L A where they have Pizza. My first encounter with pizza was with a box of Chef Boy-ar-dee pizza making kit. I was 12-years old when watching my mom assemble the box kit pizza. Saw her do it at least two times before I took my turn. The time I made the pizza in a box kit my middle sister asked me what were the little chopped green veggies were scattered over the pizza sauce and dough. Before I could answer she surmised it was green bell pepper. So, I let her assume that. But I neither had chopped onion nor green bell peppers to sprinkle on the dough. Not sure if she could tell what it was but the truth was, it was chopped sweet pickles. Well, it looked good anyway.
My first experience with eating real professional baked pizza was a restaurant called Deluca’s. Its early days were pizza and some pasta served in a one room dining room with kitchen and a short bar. Basic eating hall but the square pan pizza was pretty darn good. So success came early for Delucas. Gold and red flocking began to adorn the walls of their modest eatery, then oil painted portraits of the owner and his wife and children in a Godfather like fashion were hung on the newly flocked walls, and hanging from the center of the dining room was a rather large crystal chandelier. A monstrous chandelier that would look appropriate hanging from a ceiling in a large hotel ballroom. But the real measure of Deluca’s success was a Rolls-Royce parked out back. Not bad for baking pizza. Let’s hope that is all it was.
None the less, I have sampled pizza from Boston to Los Angeles. And many places in-between. But my most memorable time eating pizza was a New York pizza joint in Tulsa Oklahoma. The guy who ran the place had first come from New York with a transfer of many American Airline employees to American’s maintenance and Admin offices in Tulsa. But later quit the airline and opened up his own pizzeria. Having eaten New York style pizza before we visited his place and started to dig in and eat some of his NY-style pizza. Wife and I were eating away and the guy came over and mentioned, “You guys are not from Oklahoma are you?” He went on to explained; you guys don’t eat pizza with a fork. You guys are eating my pizza with your hands. Just like we do in New York. My thought was doesn’t everybody eat pizza with their hands? Nope. Oklahomans eat with their fork, he explained. But me being a kid who grew up in an Okie family in East Los Angeles we ate almost everything with our hands. Especially fried chicken and biscuits. So, to this day I eat pizza with my hands. It works best that way.