My boys don't like New Haven pizza. I am almost afraid to say that aloud (type that aloud?) as it seems somewhat sacrilegious. When we first told folks we were moving here, the initial response we got 99% of the time was "You know, New Haven has great pizza." There are ongoing debates about which pizza place is best & even people who don't live in New Haven can name the two most renowned pizzerias.
"Good pizza. This is a good thing," P & I agreed. We could continue our Friday-night-is-pizza-night tradition that we established long ago. It's the perfect end to a long work/school week when we are all tired. No one deals with cooking or cleaning saucepans. Just call the pizza place & order & everyone likes pizza. Right?
Now in Maine, my fellows had a preferred pizza place from which we got take-out. Of course, it wasn't the closest or the easiest to get to. It was a good 45 minute round-trip affair to go get our Boomers' pie. But I have to admit, Boomers' pizza was better than the local pizza made by an extremely nice Greek family. One of the first times we got pizza from Boomers though, it did not look promising. No, in fact, it looked burnt. We got the box home, opened it & really it was beyond dark or crispy-- it was actually burnt. The scene turned ugly quickly when two very picky, but hungry, two-and-a-half-year-olds who were excited to get pizza looked at the darkened circle & immediately labeled it "Yucky!" (who teaches them that word!) & started to cry. Somehow, though, we did end up trying Boomers again, maybe because living in a rural area, we were quite limited in take-out choices. I spent four years dreaming of Indian food. In the end, C & S became totally hooked on Boomers' pizza with its chewy, not-too-doughy crust & well-cooked cheese top (not burnt now) which the boys affectionately referred to as "black spots."
Fast forward to New Haven. Friday night. Take-out pizza. We try one place and the boys take a bite or two, & declare that they cannot eat it. Well, not so much declare it, but immediately, make screwed up faces & let the partially-chewed bites fall from their mouths in disgust while wiping their tongues with their sleeves. "The green things, the green things," known as herbs to most of us (that can be pronounced "erbs" to majority of us in the States or "hhhherbs" if you are Martha Stewart), are the cause of their distress.
The next week, we try a different pizza place, one slightly less local but with a much 'bigger' reputation. S looks at it & won't eat it, seeing those offensive herbs on this pie too, but C & F are game. Between them, they eat perhaps three slices. So we go back & go back & go back, each Friday night for the past few months until last week when we finally face the truth-- they just aren't eating this pizza. In Maine, the two older ones might eat a whole small pie by themselves, but here, we seemed to be sticking more leftover slices in the fridge than are going down their gullets. Something is wrong when you are begging your kids, "Just eat the pizza. Please just take a bite!" Forget the desperation over broccoli (not happening in our home), we are talking greasy, clog-your-arteries, not-good-for-the-childhood-obesity-epidemic, PIZZA. But we can't give up the Friday night tradition & heck, there are only two other dinners all three of the boys will eat so we try again. We abandon the idea of 'good' New Haven pizza & last Friday, got a pie from a little local shop, the kind you could find in Kentucky or Kansas. Very straightforward pizza, nothing fancy, plain dough, a small amount of sauce & really no herbs in sight. But still, S refuses to eat any, taking the smallest 'mouse bite' & declaring it inedible & C complains that there is "too much sauce" even though I can barely see any red between the whites of the cheese & dough. S declares with great conviction, "I don't like New Haven pizza. I like Maine pizza! I want the pizza with black spots & no herbs."
Yesterday, while grocery shopping after ten days of desperately needing to (running out of Cheerios finally drove me over the brink), I get a bright idea. Let's make our own pizza! We'll do the simplest pizza ever, the boys will like the cooking project & then, because they are excited about having made it themselves, they will eat it. So I buy plain sauce, believe me--it was the plainest I could find, peering in the glass bottles to see how few herbs could be discerned. I add to my cart pre-shredded mozzarella & one of those ready-made crusts (not dough you mold yourself but already cooked, perfectly circle- shaped which I could never do out of the dough myself, plain white bread crusts). The boys are excited for the project. S paints the crust with olive oil; C spoons sauce on & spreads it with the back of the spoon so he can be in control of the perfect amount of sauce; they both sprinkle the cheese. Even F gets in on the act, grabbing the shredded mozzarella, stuffing half in his mouth & dropping a few thin stands onto the pie. They are all thrilled to see the cooked pie emerge from the oven; although we can't quite master the 'black spots' S wants.
In the end, F & C eat away. S's dinner consists of milk & orange slices. Hmmm. What are the chances he'll go for vegetable somosas & chicken tikka masala?