So I was starving when I got off work today, really in the mood for pizza, and you have to remember that I work at the end of the world all the way in West Chelsea and there is literally nothing to eat near me. In fact I eat the same disappointing salad for lunch EVERY DAY.
Anyway, the other day I wanted to order a meatball parm for lunch and I was looking at menu pages and I said to my colleague, "what about 10th Avenue Pizza*? That any good?" and he was like, "absolutely not, that place is gross. Terrible. Really, really bad" and grant you, he's an Irishman and I don't necessarily trust his taste in food or pizza, but the man and I talk about food all day long and he has a real no-bullshit attitude toward it.
So anyway, I walk by this place on 9th ave on my way to the L everyday and it looks OKAY--I like the neon sign a lot--but as with all other food in this area, I don't have very high expectations.
So I go in and I order a slice and a small fountain soda because I'm a sucker for fountain soda. And I plan on drinking my soda by the time the pizza comes out because it's really tiny and that way I can walk with my pizza because I'm a busy damn woman and who has the time to stop smell the roses let alone eat a slice of pizza???
Anyway, I'm rambling, but really it's important because the pizza came out earlier than I expected. I figured it wasn't very hot, and I dressed it up in red pepper and oregano and I was ready to just eat my hunger away and not really take a moment to enjoy it because it's not gonna be good... but it kind looked good. First bite in, I was like, "hot damn, that is one good slice." And then I thought, "what does brother think?" so I went to Slice Harvester and start looking for the review on my iPhone, and really you should have an app for that** because until I realized I could search "slice harvester stella's pizza" on the Internet I was really frustrated.
So anyway, I get to the review and lo and behold it says "Stella's Pizza: This place ain't bad"! And so I stood there, in Stella's pizza, savoring my supremely decent slice and sipping down my tiny fountain cola and read the whole review.***
It was spot on. More spot on than I could even articulate at that moment. My slice was cooked perfectly and when I folded it had that nice crack down its spine! It was an above average, average slice... Does that even make sense? It was almost great.
But your post got me thinking. Because truth be told, before I read your opinion I was ready to sing Stella's Pizza's praises, jump on the counter and thank the pizza guys for crafting such a great slice just for my enjoyment. But really, the slice was just good, above average but nothing to go out of my way for. But because my expectations were in the toilet, and because I was so absolutely hungry I was ready to rate that slice a 10 and call it a day. So really, I'm not sure what I'm getting at. I guess just that overall there seems to be two schools of pizza: the absolutely terrible (which I'll absolutely eat in a pinch and which seems to be the majority of the pizza here in our fine city) or the fantastically decent--which almost elevates itself to fantastic due to its rarity and my lack of mental preparation. I guess my question is this: does a truly perfect slice even exist in the five boroughs? Or is it only a myth? It must exist, right? Because how else do we know all the pizza that isn't it? There must be something that sets the standard...****
Oh brother, this has substantially occupied my train ride back to Brooklyn. I hope you have a great time in Miami and give Sampa my love--I called him today, I now have an alarm set to call him every Wednesday at 3. Do you think he'll catch on?*****
*She did not hyperlink that thing in her email, but I hyperlinked it here because I can.
**Does anyone want to help me make an iPhone app? Seriously, send me an email. Let's do it.
***The notion of my kid sister being in a pizza parlor, reading a review I wrote of that same pizza parlor, seems like a slight (and technologically advanced) variant on a common theme in mealtime conversation in my family, which is: talking about food from different restaurants that serves the same food as the restaurant we are at. For instance, we had weekly Sunday dinners growing up with my Aunt Sheryl and Uncle Barry at a Chinese Place called Szechuan Empire and we would spend the bulk of the conversation talking about other Chinese food. In this instance, instead of talking about a restaurant we are not at while eating food at a different place, my sister was talking about the restaurant she WAS at, but with someone that wasn't even there with her. Does this make sense to anyone but me (and undoubtedly her)?
****This is the eternal question. I recently revisited the pizza shop on Broadway in Brooklyn around the corner from the Bent Haus (House?) that I have this one really fond memory of eating this perfect slice at. It was Halloween, two-thousand-something and I was wearing this Hulk Hogan costume where the body was for a child and I cut it up and re-assembled it over a pair of long johns and then made this blonde mustache by painting a mustache yellow and gluing it to my face with rubber cement, which meant I was basically huffing paint all night, which was not as insane as the night Sweet Tooth dipped that fake mustache in ether and let me wear it for a while, but it was totally dumb and awesome and I was so young and invincible walking around under the J Train dressed like Hulk Hogan. If I remember right, Kever was dressed like Osama Bin Laden and me and him had this fake wrestling duel where I was defending America. I think Crybaby McArthur played.
Anyway, walking there I was so excited to go to this house show and hang out with all these awesome new punk kids I had met who were all so cool and many of whom were at least moderately friendly and I was just wearing long johns and this stupid polyester children's costume and it was October back when the seasons were how they used to be, so it was COLD. And I walked by this pizza shop and turned around and got a slice from the window. I was slurping down a Ballantine tall can while I ate it and I just remember loving it so much and feeling like life was so full of endless possibilities and that the slice of pizza was just so good and perfect and fuck! Pizza!
Since then at least one of my friends from that night is dead and a lot of the rest of them have drifted out of my life, (or more honestly I've drifted out of their's), and while I feel more like myself than I ever have, more mentally and physically healthy than I ever was when I was slamming a million King Cobra's on my stoop every night, and while I even feel like there is more potential for me to accomplish totally awesome and tangible Specific Actual Goals, I do not have that same boundless, swelling sense of marvel and appreciation for the world that I did back when my eyes were big with wonder at every new sight and sensation, and frankly, I think I have a slightly harsher palate, because the pizza at that place on Broadway where I ate the other day, and where I had that perfect slice, it just wasn't very good. Same pizza man as back then, too.
And the thing is, I have a feeling it was never very good. But that slice in my memory is still perfect and that slice in that moment was still perfect! It was an 8 slice out of 8 slice slice, even though it's actually a 4 slice out of 8 slice slice. You feel me here? I'm talking about what Larry Screamin' Jesus said to me when I was in the park with Kevin Morby two years ago and he was walking around hollering and I waved hi and he came over giddy as a child and said, "Hey Colin! I don't know if you realize this, but every moment we have is a moment that's already passed us by. They're so quick and fleeting we can't even hold them and that might make you feel lost but it's actually beautiful. You and I just had millions of moments together, Colin. Millions of moments in a span of seconds." And he walked off and started berating some guy for sun-bathing.
I guess what I'm saying is that things change from moment to moment and people change and pizza changes, and we probably won't know our perfect slice until we're almost done eating it.
*****Sampa is what we call my Grandpa Sam. He doesn't know how to use the internet so he will never find out that my sister has a weekly alarm to call him unless one of you tells him, so if that happens I'ma bust someone's ass for snitching, aight?
******This is really how she signs her emails to me, I am not even trying to protect her identity.