Make Pizza, Not War: A Story Of Pizza And Pacifism

ZiosPizza is a powerful tool that can foster peace or conflict.
I know this from experience.
As a boy, I often wielded the pizza cutter in the household. When my mother was at work, I was most likely to be tasked with doing the cooking for the family after completing my farm chores. These meals could consist of 1) hotdogs with macaroni and cheese 2) chicken strips and shrimp — with macaroni and cheese or 3) canned spaghetti with tuna thrown in to spice things up. As you can see, we were culinary connoisseurs.
But the most popular supper option when Mom was out of the house was Tombstone Pizza. My two younger brothers, dad and I loved that special brand of frozen pizza, although I’ve no idea who thought it was a good idea to link pizza to the Wild West. (I should also add that Tombstone Pizza isn’t anywhere near as good as the homemade pizza Mom would make if she was at home.)
I would bake two Tombstones so that, between the four of us, there were four pieces each.
It sounds so simple on paper.
But as the wielder of the cutter, I had great power that I did not always use responsibly. I knew that a pizza does not necessarily have to be divided equally.
Sometimes, I’m not proud to admit, I was tempted by that alluring pizza staring me in the eyes to give in to greed and slice the pie in a way that provided me with more than the rest of the family. (Remember, since I was doing the slicing, I also had first dibs on claiming what was mine.)
This unequal distribution, of course, did not escape the attention of my equally pizza-loving brothers and inevitably led to some conflicts.
However, we survived those “Pizza Wars” and are still on speaking terms today.
Now, let’s fast-forward to last weekend.
I found myself at Zio’s Pizzeria, located in Omaha’s Old Market, with Mom, Dad and my middle brother. The franchise has been voted the “Best of Omaha” in Omaha Magazine, so we wanted to give it a try.
While ordering, we were told it could be 45 minutes before receiving our pizzas. Considering how busy every eatery in the Old Market was that night, we didn’t consider the potential wait unreasonable.
So, the four of us sat and chatted about family matters, politics, entertainment and whatever else came to mind.
An hour passed, and I found my stomach growing impatient. Being hungry and inhaling the rich aroma of pizza for an hour can be exhausting and wear down one’s sense of decorum.
That’s when the devastating news arrived.
The waitress approached timidly before launching her attack. It was the Pearl Harbor of pizza non-delivery.
“I have some really bad news,” she said, doing her best to ignore the long strands of saliva that were now trailing out of our hungry mouths and onto the table. “They left your pizzas in too long and now they’re all burnt. The manager said that if you still want your pizzas, we will give them to you for free. Do you want us to re-make them?”
Suddenly, we were on war footing. Our supply lines had been breached and our future was in peril.
The unfulfilled promise of pizza could have led lesser souls to retaliate by storming out of the restaurant, making a rude comment to the waitress or declaring all-out war on Zio’s Pizzeria — scenarios that I briefly entertained in my hungry delirium.
Instead, the whole family looked at each other for guidance — and this is where I became quite proud of us.
We kept our calm, looked to the server and said, “Yes, we’ll wait for our pizzas.”
My middle brother, who I think it is fair to say can be the most impatient among the four of us due to the simple fact that he is a middle child, remained calm and observed with sarcasm, “That was really nice of the manager to make the waitress come and deliver the bad news instead of doing it himself.”
We all nodded our heads in agreement.
“The waitress is such a sweetheart,” Mom added.
“I guess this just means more quality time together for us,” I said, only half-joking.
And so we did the only thing we could do — we chatted some more and enjoyed each other’s company.
In another 20 minutes, we were devouring our free pizza with the intensity of soldiers who hadn’t seen food in days.
ZiosIIIt was good pizza and, as I watched the red tomato sauce drip onto my plate, I was grateful that this favorite food would not be a source of conflict as it had been in my past.
Mom told Dad to tip the waitress well, and he did as instructed (just as he always does in matters where Mom provides instruction, I can assure you).
We got up and peacefully made our way to the door, content with the pizza in our stomachs. The only “piece” I was armed with now was a slice left over for breakfast.
Pizza could have been the catalyst for war on this fine day. Instead, it was used to facilitate peace. The world could learn something from this simple equation.
I would also add this small bit of advice: When life throws you pepperoni, have some patience and maybe it will throw in a free pizza.

3 thoughts on “Make Pizza, Not War: A Story Of Pizza And Pacifism

  1. Just in case you were not aware, in Esquire’s cookbook “How to Cook for Men” there is a fantastic leftover pizza recipe. I had always been skeptical of reheated pizza (unlike most soup or chili they did not taste better the second time around), but this is really simple. Tinfoil a cookie sheet. Oven to 400. Put pizza on sheet and grate fresh cheese (cheap is fine but good stuff like Dimmock is great) and then reheat until new and old cheese meld and become slightly crisp. While cooking, prepare two eggs, preferably sunny side up or over easy. Remove pizza and plate with salt and pepper seasoned egg on top. Enjoy and may peace be with you.

  2. Actually, I think the book is How to Cook Like a Man, but you can easily google for the particulars.
    Some really good chefs in there, like Julia Childs, Mario Batalli, etc.

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