Sunday night, Tim and I got the opportunity to attend a private event at Porta Via Italian Kitchen—Nashville’s source of authentic Neapolitan pizza (and you know how much I love that, whether in Chicago, in Seattle, in Chattanooga, or now here at home). For us, the event came at a pretty perfect time, too, because, […]
Sunday night, I had pizza at Burt’s Place in Morton Grove, after calling in our order four days ahead of time, right down to the sizes and toppings and what time we’d arrive, because, if you don’t know this already, Burt’s is not just any place—it is a landmark, made famous largely by Saveur Magazine […]
I have a running theory on friendship, which maybe you’d like to hear? Essentially, it is this: If you find someone who won’t run away when you confess your love of cheesy country music or endlessly ridicule you when they see your high school yearbook, that’s someone worth hanging on to. Because, as we all know, it’s one thing to be liked when you’re on your game, and it’s quite another to be liked when you’re at your worst, wearing your glasses and that junior-high retainer at night or, geeking out to the complete lyrics of “The Broken Road” while the two of you ride in the car.
When you have been loved that way, without condition, like I have, it’s amazing how still unnatural it can feel to extend that love to others, how revelatory of your truest self. My friend Jackie’s better at it—you’d like her. When she comes over on a Saturday afternoon to expectations of going out for lunch and, instead, finds me, anxious, telling her I have two rising pizza doughs I don’t know what to do with and, Can we just stay here, only first we’ll have to go to the store and buy mozzarella? she doesn’t flinch. Then, when after coming home with groceries, we both recognize a near-deathly smell coming from the slimy asparagus that’s brown on the bottoms, which I’d had my heart set on making a salad with, she’s only happy to head right back to the same store, just before stopping by the train for a quick pick-up and returning to the kitchen to resume activities. Jackie’s the kind of friend that likes you even with your quirks; she’s flexible and forgiving.
And, if you’ll permit the analogy, this kind of friend is a lot like the right kind of recipe.
It’s one thing to have a recipe that’s fussy, giving good results when you do everything just perfectly, measuring exactly, following the proper order, keeping the room the right temperature—it’s like the friends who like hanging out with you on a Friday night when your hair’s curled and your lips glossed and your house immaculate—not bad to have, maybe necessary. But it’s another to find a recipe that’s flexible, that lets you change things around a little, that forgives mistakes and yields something good anyway. When you find that kind of recipe, like a companion, you hang on to it, no question.
Like this pizza crust.
Once when I was little, one of my teachers had our entire class over for a pizza party. What I remember most was standing on a stool at a counter, spooning sauce onto a circle of dough and getting to top it with white strings of cheese, feeling very grown up. That was probably the best party ever. I kind of loved that teacher but, mostly, I loved that pizza.
Here’s the truth: I could eat pizza every day. Sometimes I do. I like the fancy ones that cost $15 at a nice restaurant, the frozen ones in cardboard boxes at the grocery story, even mozzarella and tomato sauce heaped high on a bagel. In my book, pizza = good. Always.
So as far as pizza goes, it’s hard to make me hate one (though not impossible, thank you, Domino’s, when we ordered you the second time at work), it’s easy to make me like one and it’s, seriously, not that hard to make me really like one.
Now love? Well, let’s just say this: If you can’t get to Chicago’s best Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant or to the place with the most hearty, meaty pizza pot pies in the Midwest, and if you can’t find that tiny place on Boston’s North End where they don’t even say they sell pizza, but you might get lucky and see someone eating one and then order it and, one bite in, think you’ve died and gone to heaven, well, then you have to make one.