This is a long story. Suck it up and stick with it, and you will be rewarded. Today is the story, and Sunday is the follow-up message. Milk before meat. In this case, pizza before wisdom.
Last week my EC and I spent an evening in NE Pennsylvania. Scranton to be precise. (No, we didn't see the Dunder-Mifflin offices, or meet Pam, or Jim, or Michael Scott. Duh. It was Saturday)
Not being too familiar with the fine cuisine of NE PA, we decided to go out for pizza. Pizza is safe. I've had good pizza all over the world. It's hard to go horribly wrong with pizza. So with a quick tap on Yelp! and Google Maps, we headed south to Moosic, PA, to a well-reviewed Italian restaurant- praised for it's pizza. The restaurant was big, and by the way everyone seemed to know everyone else, full of locals.
We were seated back by the kitchen, and after a few minutes were brought menus and water. We went straight to the pizzas to figure out what we wanted. There were six choices.
Open Face Red
Open Face White
Shrimp and Hot Peppers (?)
Double Crust Red
Double Crust White
Double Crust White with Spinach or Broccoli
Then there were a few normal toppings listed as well. We figured the "Open Face" was a regular pizza, and the "Double Crust" is what we usually call a "stuffed crust pizza." But we must have been looking a bit confused, because the waitress (Renée) came by and asked if we needed some help. It was pretty obvious that we weren't locals.
Me: Tell us about your pizza
Renée: Well, we have two kinds, the red and white. My favorite is the double white. It's very filling.
EC: What do you put on the double white?
Renée: *blank stare*
EC: Back home they put mushrooms or chicken or...
Renée: Chicken? Really? They probably have some chicken back there that they could chop up and put in...
Me: No, no, that's OK - but what do they usually put in a double white? (I was starting to get curious)
EC: We aren't trying to be difficult, it's just that this is a lot different than pizza at home.
Renée: *kicks into explaining to a small child mode* Well you see, the filling is mostly cheese, and they don't usually put anything else with it. It's my favorite. It's very filling. *stares wistfully off into space*
Me: So it's a top crust and a bottom rust with white cheese in it?
Renée: *defensively* Yeah, but it has rosemary in it and onions baked on the top - you know - TRADITIONAL.
Traditional? Suddenly it all started to become a little funny - and we were already in one of those slap-happy moods.
So at Renée's urging, we decided on the Double Crust White with Spinach, you know, to make it healthy. The traditional way.
Renée: What size? 6 or 12 cuts.
EC: Is that like a 6 or 12 inch pizza?
Me: Then we'll get a 6 inch open face red, and a 6 inch double crust white.
Renée: *Looks at us like we are mildly retarded* That is a lot of pizza.
Me: Oh, is it 6 slices?
Renée: Sorta. They are called cuts. 12 cuts would be a lot. It's very filling.
Me: OK. We'll do 6 cuts of the white.
A minute later she returns to the table.
Renée: I almost forgot your chickpeas and bread.
And then we sat. Forever. After about 45 minutes - (about 30 minutes since we stopped being hungry for dinner - full of chickpeas) Renée brought our pizza to us and warned us to be careful because it was very hot. It looked huge. And very filling. Each "cut" looked like a meal unto itself. Note the onions baked into the top:
By now we were finding everything hysterically funny. I had my phone out to take pictures of this traditional pizza. I put a cut on my plate, and a lava-like flood of cheese and spinach gushed out.
First thought: Cheesy goodness! But Renee had been correct. It was very filling. By the third bite, my wife was ready to be done. And as the pizza cooled down the crust started getting hard - as in "this is destroying the roof of my mouth" or "I am not strong enough to put my fork through this" hard. By the time we finished, the pizza had progressed from "cheesy goodness" to "interesting" to "I don't care for this" to "this is nasty".
My EC ate 75% of one "cut" (Wimp.)
I soldiered on and ate 2.5 cuts. Then I was done. I would not need to eat, or be able to go to the bathroom again, for days. It was a lot of cheese (offset by the healthy spinach).
Renée came back to the table and saw that we had stopped eating. She looked at the two remaining cuts and appeared concerned.
Renée: Was everything OK?
Me: Yes, it was fine.
Renée: Did you like it?
EC: It was great, but..
Renée: It is very filling.
EC: Yes it is.
Renée: Do you want me to wrap this up for you?
Me: No thanks, we are staying in a hotel, and don't have anyplace to put it.
Renée: *looking stricken* Are you sure?
Me: Yes, but thank you.
Looking hurt and confused, Renee took the leftover pizza back to the kitchen. She was obviously taking this personally. We then heard voices coming out of the kitchen. We couldn't hear all of it, but we knew it was about us.
...Don't want it? ...like it?...wrong with it?...
A minute later a different waitress came over to our table - looking stressed and baffled.
Connie: Are you sure you don't want to take this home?
Me: We are. We don't have anyplace to put it. We are staying in a hotel.
Connie: You could wrap it up and put it on the TV and eat it in the middle of the night.
Me: No, thanks, that's OK.
EC: Would you like to take it home? (ever-considerate)
Connie: Oh, I would love to, but I can't. I love this stuff. It's very filling. *stares wistfully into space*
Connie takes the pizza away with a sad fondness that I don't quite understand. We tried our best to feel bad about it, but failed. Instead, we focused on not laughing out loud.
Besides, we had a flat-panel TV that lacked any kind of pizza-storage area.
So, for us, the Double Crust White with Spinach was a "fail". But it was an adventure, and probably one of the most memorable dining experiences we've ever had.
I guess I'm just not a "traditional" pizza kind of guy.
Sunday: The "rest" of the story...