RE: My humor column
Becket thought this was pretty funny and suggested I post it . . . so if you don't like it you can blame her.
Chewiní the Cud: My search for the Holy Grail ... of pizza
By Jason Johnson
UNITY (April 22): I think pizza is the perfect food for two reasons.
Reason No. 1: You donít need a fork to eat it. Any food that doesnít require a fork is good in my book.
Reason No. 2: Itís served up in triangles, and as we all know any food that is triangular in shape automatically tastes good. Donít believe me? Thereís pie, cake, Doritos and ... well ... uh, thatís all I can think of, but youíve got to admit pie, cake and Doritos are all pretty tasty.
My love affair with pizza began at an early age when I soon realized that a pepperoni pizza was always a better choice than Momís tuna noodle casserole or spinach spaghetti Alfredo.
When I was very young, my parents didnít have a lot of money. Back then, Momís idea of making a homemade pizza was slathering some Huntís spaghetti sauce on a Thomas English muffin, tossing on some mozzarella cheese and calling them mini-pizzas. As a kid I loved them, but if my wife even suggested making pizzas like this today, I believe I would have legal grounds for divorce.
As my familyís fortunes gradually improved, the pizzas became better as well. We moved from the homemade English muffin pizzas to Tonyís frozen pizzas in the early í80s ... it wasnít a huge step forward, but it was an improvement. In the late í80s, we had moved up to buying pizzas made at The Depot, which was a vast improvement over frozen pizzas.
In college, pizza was a staple of my diet. At times I would eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Patís Pizza in town made a decent pizza, but when my college buddies and I wanted to go all out we would pile into my old Chevy Malibu and drive to Hillsboro for a Foodeeís Pizza. There were never any leftovers after a trip to Foodeeís. This could also explain why I gained 20 pounds in college.
After college, I continued my love affair with pizza. However, I back-slid some as I returned to eating Tonyís frozen pizzas. On occasion, when times were tight, I would even break down and buy Mr. Pís frozen pizzas. Mr. Pís pizzas were the equivalent of Ramen noodles. They were inexpensive and filled you up, but they were only one step above eating cardboard baked in a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes. Every once in a while, usually on a Friday night, I would splurge and buy a Depot pizza.
I was content with my pizza-eating regimen until I met and married my wife. It was Heidi who introduced me to real New York-style pizza on a trip to Connecticut to meet her brother. It was love at first bite. For the rest of that trip I kept suggesting we order a pizza for every dinner. The crispy crust, tangy sauce and blend of cheese was unlike anything I had ever eaten. I was a bit confused, however, by the pizza parlorsí habit of cutting the pizza into rectangles instead of the familiar triangular slices.
It was on that fateful trip I had an epiphany ó I now knew what the ultimate pizza was supposed to be like, and I made it my mission, my quest for the Holy Grail if you would, to find a pizza like that in Maine. Little did I know that this quest of mine would take years and result in untold disappointments.
For the next seven years, I sampled pizza everywhere I went, from classy restaurants to general stores with pizza on warming racks and pizza chains promising authentic New York-style pizza. From Millinocket to York, and out to Bethel, I kept ordering pizza in my quest to find one that would taste as good as those pizzas I had in Connecticut. Each time, I was disappointed.
At one point I was craving true New York-style pizza so badly that I convinced a co-worker who was visiting his sick brother in southern Connecticut to buy me a pizza and bring it back to Maine with him. Unfortunately, I never got that pizza. John claimed he bought a pizza for himself and for me, ate his one night and shortly thereafter became violently ill so he threw out my pizza ... at least that was his story. To this day, I suspect John secretly ate my pizza along with his own that fateful night and later decided to claim he had food poisoning to cover up this heinous crime.
Eventually I became convinced the only way I would be able to taste that piping-hot, New York-style pizza ever again was to either move to New York or start racking up some serious frequent flier miles. And then a miracle happened. Call it Miracle on Main Street, because thatís where the Unity House of Pizza opened up.
The first time my wife and I ordered a pizza, I wasnít sure what to expect. There were some good signs however. Seeing a Ms. Pac-Man machine in the corner was a good sign, since it is well known that only the best pizza places have 1980s-vintage arcade games.
The second positive sign was that the owners are Greek, with the husband being known simply as ďVĒ due to the fact that his name has about a dozen vowels strung together with approximately two dozen consonants. If I even attempted to pronounce his name, I would no doubt butcher it so badly that nearby customers would be convinced I was having a stroke and call 911 for an ambulance.
To make a long story short, the pizza we ordered that night was perfect. After years of searching, I had found my Holy Grail of pizzas. I had found a pizza rivaling those from Connecticut. I had found a pizza that truly could be called a New York-style pizza. At long last my quest was over. I had found pizza nirvana.
Itís been a little over a year now, and my love affair with the Unity House of Pizza has continued to flourish. Not a week goes by that I donít end up buying a pizza or a calzone to satiate my pizza craving. Iím on a first-name basis now with the owners, although I still canít pronounce Vís name.
About the only thing I can complain about is that the UHOPís pizza doesnít come in rectangles like that pizza I had so long ago in Connecticut ... but then again, thatís a good thing since we all know the best food comes in triangular shapes.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."
"Death is only one of many ways to die."