By Leah St. James
It hurt a little to hear one of my colleagues say that about me. Because I am NOT a food snob. I’m not! I’ll eat packaged, repurposed, fresh, stale, food that’s been left out overnight – you name it. Except for seafood. I don’t like seafood in any shape or form. Or anything that looks icky. Like calamari. Uggggggh.
So really, I’m easy!
The opinion came to light because one of my main jobs is to take care of ordering food for newsroom meetings and events. I try to mix it up, not order the same thing all the time. Over the months we’ve had barbecue, Italian, deli platters, soups and even buckets of fried chicken with sides of mashed potatoes.
But the quick, go-to meal in the newsroom is pizza. You generally can’t go wrong with pizza unless you don’t order enough.
It used to be that pizza was a cheap meal. But not anymore. Pizza these days is expensive. Add a delivery charge and tip, and you might as well get salads and sandwiches.
Which is why one of the editors said, as I was bemoaning the price of the local pizza joints recently, “So order from the online place. The have a special two-fer going. You can’t go wrong.”
I shuddered as I peered at him, wondering if he was serious or maybe testing me, seeing if I’d really try to serve CHAIN PIZZA to our staff.
I mean, it’s true that I’m not a food snob, but I’m a Jersey Girl born and raised on Brooklyn-style pizza. I draw the line at chain-restaurant pizza. Or frozen pizza. I might as well serve cardboard! Right?
But no, he wasn’t kidding. He said, “I know it’s not the best, but it’s a training session. People won’t be expecting gourmet.”
So the word went out that we’d be having pizza for an upcoming working lunch. And that’s when it got weird.
One of the reporters, who has spent at least some time in the southwest, emailed me this question: “Can you order some Hawaiian pizza – with pineapple and bacon?”
I stared at my computer screen, my fingers typing and erasing, typing and erasing as I tried to determine the best way to respond. She must be kidding…or what if she wasn’t kidding?? Would someone really ask for pineapple on pizza???
Finally I responded something like, “Do you think anyone other than you will like it?”
Not that I didn’t want to order what she wanted, but I had to feed more than 20 people. And I don’t like wasting food.
She responded immediately. “People love Hawaiian pizza! You should do a survey.”
I answered, “No, YOU should do a survey,” then turned to the other hundred-something emails waiting for attention.
Pretty soon I started seeing emails pop in my inbox extolling the virtues of this version of so-called pizza. She’d found six people in the newsroom who agreed. Thankfully (for me), there were messages of support of my position as well…although they sent them only to me, so I looked like the lone Hawaiian pizza snob in the room! (Closet pizza snobs. Can’t trust them.)
Anyway, I grudgingly, agreed to order one of the pies with pineapple and bacon, nearly gagging as I clicked the offensive options on the website.
After the training session the next day, I went into the empty room to clean up the carnage, and of course I checked out the box with the pineapple stuff. One tiny piece remained. I sniffed the air above it and picked up a sweet and tangy scent. To make sure no one else would be forced to eat it, I grabbed a plate and slid the piece onto it, glancing around to make sure no one saw.
I ate that piece–yes, I did– in three quick bites. And I must concede that the mix of flavors wasn’t horrible. I could see how dough covered in sauce, cheese, pineapple and bacon would have its fans. But I will never call it pizza.
So you see, when it comes to food, I’m not a snob. I’m really not. Just don’t mess with my pizza.
Leah St. James writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the redeeming power of love. Read more about her works at LeahStJames.com.