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Pizza! Pizza! In the Library?

pizza-boxBelieve it or not, October is National Pizza Month. This might be one of those factoids that only catches a librarian’s interest, but did you know that on average three billion pizzas are sold every year in the United States? That breaks down to 350 slices every second. Likewise, it probably comes as no surprise that Americans prefer meat toppings to veggie at a ratio of roughly two to one, at least according to a 2018 survey by Alto-Hartley.

My husband jokes that I am compelled to sample pizza whenever we travel. I could be in Caribou, Maine or Honolulu, Hawaii and my favorite “pie” will be calling my name. Even when we traipsed through Shanghai, I was determined to try the local Pizza Hut (the menu is completely different from in the States). That’s when I realized my husband was right. I really do need a “once-a-week pizza fix.”

While it would be unfair to name my preferred local pizza parlor, I can safely mention an “all-time travel favorite” on the West Coast. It comes from a restaurant in Mill Valley, CA. Even now the thought of the “Corn Pizza” at Pizza Antica makes my mouth water. Topped with bacon, caramelized onion, pesto, arugula and, of course, corn, it is the epitome of Californian cuisine. To die for!

Sadly, I am now at the age where I should be slowing down in the cheese and carb consumption lane. Still, who can resist a slice now and then? After all, it is a favorite American food. Shouldn’t that make it a worthwhile topic to discover in our library stacks as well?

Let’s start with movies. Almost everyone has heard of Mystic Pizza. Honestly, I should re-watch this classic that propelled Julia Roberts to fame. If you look at the TripAdvisor website, this famous spot has made it onto many a bucket list. Who can deny part of the allure is the hope that Julia might walk right out of the kitchen. Here’s another movie for your list, though. Simply called Pizza, the movie stars Ethan Embry and Kylie Sparks. As described, “Former high school hotshot Matt is now the world's oldest pizza delivery boy. Matt delivers to a brainiac with multiple personalties, and finds that she is the only guest at her own party. He invites her along for the ride and a lesson is learned.”

And parents, don’t worry. There is also a cute movie for children based on William Stieg’s book entitled Pete’s a Pizza. The movie has three stories in one. The first shows how Pete’s parents cheer him up when he is in a bad mood by making him into a pizza. Try that on a bad day.

Speaking of children’s books, Jack Prelutsky’s A Pizza the Size of the Sun is a fun one to check out. Filled with playful poems about a variety of topics, the title poem does not fail to bring a smile. In fact, it ends with this couplet:

I hardly can wait till my pizza is done.
My wonderful pizza the size of the sun!

Prelutsky also includes poems about jellybeans and cookies, so all the important food groups are covered. (Wink!)

For adults we have a variety of pizza-themed books as well. One of John Grisham’s early works is entitled Playing for Pizza. The main character, Rick Dockery, is a third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and arguably gives “the worst single performance in the history of the NFL.” No team will have him, except for a little-known one in Italy, the Panthers of Parma. They could use his help! Not only does Dockery arrive without speaking a word of Italian, but his journey beyond pizza and football is about to start.

If Grisham is not your cup of tea, perhaps a cozy mystery or two awaits? Author Chris Cavender has written a series that begins with A Slice of Murder and ends with The Missing Dough. A Pizza to Die For sounds like a humdinger as well. In this series the owner of a pizza shop, Eleanor Swift, starts her sleuthing when one of her late night delivery customers turns up dead. Cozy mystery fans can be rest assured, a recipe or two are included in each book.

Recipes, you say? By now you might be craving a slice yourself. Well, the library has the antidote for that too. Any Rachel Ray fans out there will find just the thing in Chapter 4 of her Everyone is Italian on Sunday cookbook. Ray includes easy recipes for dough, sauce, and a range of pies. The only one she hasn’t sold me on is the Regina Pizza, which consists of tuna and tomato. Perhaps someone else will be game? Peter Reinhart’s book, Perfect Pan Pizza, also caught my eye. Reinhart’s recipes are “for making Detroit-, Sicilian-, and Roman-style pan pizzas and focaccias in a home oven.” At least check out a few of these selections, and try them for yourself.

Of course, you might argue that tacos are actually America’s favorite food. Turns out you will have to wait for my next column to see if you can convince me. Until then, Buon Appetito!

Nancy Ling is the Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the October 15, 2020 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

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