The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Pizza’

GOOD NEWS FOR SENIORS

If you don’t like pizza – well, you’re just un-American.  I’m a good and loyal American so it goes without saying that I not only like, I LOVE pizza.  Hot, cold, thin or thick crust – other than throwing pineapple and ham on it (or peanut butter), it’s almost impossible to ruin this all-American favorite.  (We did invent it didn’t we?)

Well if you’re thinking that under our ever-beneficent radical socialist leaders in Washington, seniors are going to be able to get all the pizza they can eat, I’m sorry to report that you’re wrong.  (At least for the moment – but who knows?)  No, I’m referring to new job opportunities which those who rely on walkers to perambulate may soon have available to them.

You see, there’s this law that passed called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a/k/a/ Obamacare).  And a mighty law it is indeed – as we’re only beginning to discover.  Fortunately, it doesn’t fully kick in for another year so that allows us time to think and pine and fret over its implications as they begin to further unfold.  But there are a few things about it which we do know.

(This includes those Democrats including my own former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley who recently failed to advance her career to the United States Senate and is now out of politics.  The good Congresswoman followed leader Pelosi’s advice and voted to pass the bill without bothering to read it.  Details, details.)  And, by the way there are a lot of details.

One of the details that we do know is that employers will be required to provide health insurance for all employees who earn less than $15 per hour.  If they fail to do so they will be subject to a fine of $2000 per employee.  But the cost of the insurance is likely to be at least five times as expensive as the fine.  So, in essence, the reasonable employer will make the choice between spending $2000 per year or $10,000 per year – and which number do you think she will select?

But, wait – there’s a way around this.  You see this only applies to those employees who are considered “full time” employees – that is to say that they work (or at least show up) for 30 hours or more a week.  (Whatever happened to the 40 hour work week?  I guess I owe myself a lot of back pay at an overtime rate!)

So, as an alternative, an employer can cut back on her full-time staff, reducing them to part-time status and thus skirt this provision of Obamacare.  Apparently when our esteemed Congress passed this bill and the President signed it into law, they overlooked this eventuality and the consequent reduction in income and standard of living that those whom the law is intended to benefit will undergo.  I guess it’s just another example of unintended consequences.

But in my musings, I have arrived at a solution which I would like to share with all those small business owners (and little pizzerias that I love to frequent).

HIRE THE ELEDERLY

You see, if we merely raid the retirement homes to find the able-bodied among our senior citizens, we can recruit them to work in our stores and businesses and avoid this provision of Obamacare since they already have insurance, Medicare.

And this works out well for our seniors.  Not only will it provide them with additional income that they need to compensate for the rising prices of food and gas (the kind you put in your vehicle) which are far outstripping the increase in their Social Security benefits but, since their doctors are now becoming veterinarians, there’s no need for them to worry about missing their appointments – since there won’t be any.

And this works out for the pizza-eating public as well.  I mean really, would you rather see some acne-pimpled teenager tossing the dough for your pizza, or some lovely silver-haired lady who reminds you of your grandmother?

“I’m here to pick up my extra large pepperoni, mushroom, green pepper and onion pizza, Grams.  Oh, wait.  Don’t strain yourself.  Let me help you lift that.”

THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER

If you are even one tenth as much an aficionado of great pizza as I you have no doubt your favorite version of this sublime delicacy.  Of course, growing up in New York, I still prefer the version that is produced there.  Even a bad New York pizza is better than a great pizza from anywhere else.

Living for many years in Chicago I became acclimated to the deep dish thick crust pizza that is the signature trademark of Uno’s and Due’s – started by an Irishman, Ike Sewell.  In fact I make a very good version of it.  It’s filling and satisfying and brings back memories of sitting in Ike’s restaurants with good friends and a pitcher of beer.

In Las Vegas there are a number of pizzerias all of which throw New York somewhere in their name to entice the unwary into thinking that they’re about to get the real McCoy.  Some of them do a reasonable impersonation of the genuine article.  They carry that off almost as successfully as I would doing an impersonation of Mae West.

A new pizzeria, Dom DeMarco’s came to town last fall.  It is only about a five mile drive from the house and people talked it up as the authentic thing – coming as they do from Brooklyn.  I stopped by one day and picked up a menu.  I thought it was pricey but ordered one the next night.  I got there ten minutes early as my salivary glands were in overdrive and found that my pizza beat me to the pick up station by some time.  There was no heat lamp so I had to reheat it when I got home and there were so few toppings I wondered if I had been given someone else’s order for a plain cheese.  All this for $28.00 for a 16” pizza.

I happened to mention this the next morning at the dog park and one of the other morning regulars said he had the same experience – no toppings and overpriced.  He also mentioned that when President Obama had been in town on a fundraiser he had ordered seven or eight pizzas for his entourage from Dom DeMarco’s.  Had I known that I would have realized that I was going to get gypped and not patronized the place.  I won’t make that mistake again.

I did find a pizzeria in North Las Vegas at Uncle Angelo’s Pizza Joint in Jerry’s Nugget Casino which is as close to the real New York experience as I have come.  When I ordered one I swooned.  Great crust, plentiful fresh toppings, excellent sauce, the right amount of cheese and baked to perfection.  A 17” pizza for $17 and that included a free pitcher of beer.   I was by myself so I passed on the beer and took home six wonderful slices to enjoy over the next three evenings.

So what is it about New York pizza that makes it different?  Everyone tells me that the secret ingredient is the water.  New York reportedly has some of the finest water flowing from the tap of any city in the country.  I can believe it – and I think the water has properties that go far beyond allowing for the creation of fantastic pizza.

I say this because I read a story the other day that former Rep. Anthony Wiener (D), NY is considering a return to politics, perhaps running for Mayor of New York City.  The former Congressional Representative resigned last year because of the flap over his posting semi-clad photos of himself on the internet.  He is apparently sitting on $4.5 million in campaign contributions which could be used to facilitate that bid.

Apparently the former congressman’s incipient career as a model for men’s undergarments didn’t work out.

I have a theory that New York City water increases libido and diminishes any sense of propriety.  It is possible that this may only affect politicians.  I have a call in to former Governor Eliot Spitzer to see if I can get some confirmation of this.  I will keep you posted as developments warrant.

Until then, I would suggest that politicians who either live in or are visiting the Big Apple take caution and make sure that they only consume water that has been bottled elsewhere.

There’s something in the water.

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ON COMFORT FOOD

After last night’s disturbing rest and nightmare I decided that I would treat myself today to some comfort food.  I’ve found that nothing makes a nightmare go away so quickly as dousing oneself in some of those childhood foods which always helped me feel secure and safe.  Besides, I was entitled to be happy as there is a lot of that entitlement thing making the rounds.

At first I considered going to a place that offers a wonderful comfort food dinner – things like pot roast, fried chicken, meatloaf and turkey pot pie.  All of these make the top ten of my list of comfort foods.  But much to my surprise as I planned my excursion I consulted their menu on-line and found that these items are dinner only items.  Most of their luncheon menu was burgers and wraps – and while I like those that was not what I craved.

The very first item on my list of comfort foods is pizza.  Growing up in New York City I remember that after the stress of completing a school examination there was nothing more re-assuring while waiting for the results than stopping into the local pizzeria where slices or whole pies were available.  Ah, the wondrousness of New York City pizza.  I still miss it.

I guess we all think that the foods with which we grew up were prepared “the way” that they were supposed to be made.  For that reason I still think that New York City has the best pizza pies in the universe.

I have had hotly contested debates with friends and acquaintances from Boston or Connecticut or New Jersey, places where large waves of immigrant Italians lived and opened pizzerias who hold that their childhood pizzas are the best.  While we might disagree, we do generally accept the fact that it’s hard to find a good piece of pizza west of the Hudson River.  In the ten years I have lived in Las Vegas I have had no reason to alter that opinion.

I have tried practically all the pizzerias on the west side of town.  By pizzerias I am talking about independent stand-alone mom and pop stores.  I gave up on the chains years ago and update that antipathy about twice a decade.  I mean, things can change – but I haven’t found that there has been much improvement in the mass produced pizza industry.

Well, whether the crust was too soggy or too dry; the sauce was too plentiful or too sparse; too spicy or too bland; the sausage too greasy or too crumbly; too much or too little cheese; I haven’t found a pizza out here in which I could drown my need for comfort.

About a month ago someone mentioned that a new pizzeria, Dom DeMarco’s had come to town.  It was a New York pizzeria that had expanded west.  (Yeah, I’ve heard this song before).  So I decided to give it a try.

I later learned that President Obama, when he was in town, had ordered pizzas from this establishment.  Had I known that I wouldn’t have bothered with this new place.  I mean what do people from Hawaii or wherever who toss pineapple on pizza really know about the stuff?

But ensconced in my ignorance of this future event I went on-line and found their menu.  I thought that $30 for an 18” pizza with Pepperoni, Sausage, Meatballs and Ham was pretty pricey – but based on the rave reviews I had heard I decided to order it anyway.  (This was one of their “specials pizzas” but having it my way with the exclusion of several of these and the addition of others would have been yet more costly).

I called, placing my order for a 7:30 p.m. pickup.  I emphasized the time to make sure that the young lady who took my order could hear me over the noise in the background.  I arrived for my pickup at 7:20.

As I walked in I went to the front desk to see where I should pick up my pizza.  The young lady who came to meet me asked for my phone number.  (Yes, we’ve all been reduced to numbers of some sort or other).  Fortunately, I remembered it or I might have gone hungry.

She then reached under her front desk counter, pulled a box out and plopped it on the counter together with my bill.  As I lifted the box I noticed that the bottom was almost cold.  It certainly hadn’t just come piping hot out of the oven and I wondered when during the one and one-half hours from the time I had phoned in the order and arrived to pick it up it had actually been produced.  But I paid for it and eagerly took it to my car and then home.

Since the pizza was only lukewarm I put it in the oven which I had pre-heated before I left and tried to bring it back to life and warmth.  I pulled out the two slices I had decided to consume for dinner and was only moderately unimpressed.

The crust – perhaps as a result of being reheated was extremely dry.  The sauce, however, was excellent.  But the toppings were extremely sparse.  I couldn’t find a single piece that contained all four of the featured ingredients.  Alas, yet another failure in my never-ending quest to find a really good pizza west of Secaucus. 

As it happened during one of Gracie’s and my daily morning visits to the dog park, the little group that assembles regularly at 7 o’clock was having a conversation when the two of us came over to wish them a good morning.  The subject was an Italian restaurant which one of our morning group had started frequenting.

He went on to say that he had eaten three or four meals there and raved about the quality of the food, the excellence of the service and the affordability of his meal.  My ears perked up. 

“By any chance, Freddy,” I asked, “do they have pizza on the menu?”  He said the name of the place was “Uncle Angelo’s Pizza Joint.”  It was located in an independent casino in North Las Vegas called Jerry’s Nugget.  Obviously, they had pizza – but Freddy hadn’t tried it.

Today I decided to go there for luncheon.  I walked into the casino which people who have been here for many, many years tell me has been there forever.  It’s in what has become a sort of seedy and clearly impoverished area of North Las Vegas.

I quickly found Uncle Angelo’s and waited a moment or two to be seated.  The young lady who came to the front desk quickly whisked me to my seat asking whether I would prefer a table or a booth.

When I was seated she handed me the menu and took my drink order for an iced tea with lemon which she quickly brought back to me.  I reviewed the menu to get an overview of the fare but I quickly found the pizza I wanted.  It was a 20” “Nugget Special.”  (Obviously, I planned on bringing most of it home so that in the days following I could continue to be comforted).

The combination for this pizza included pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions, ham, black olives, mushrooms and fresh garlic.  When my server, Glenn came to the table to take my order, I asked if we could skip the black olives and do a little extra garlic on the pizza.  “Not a problem,” he replied.  I love olives of all descriptions – but generally I don’t care for them on pizza.

During the fifteen minutes I waited for my freshly made pizza to arrive I looked around the restaurant.  It was simply appointed with some nice Italian-style prints neatly framed on the walls.  The place was nicely lit and in the background some traditional Italian songs were being played.  This inevitably included some oldies but goodies that were recorded by Frank Sinatra and Perry Como.

I sipped on my iced tea taking in the place’s ambiance.  It was basic but comfortable.  Then Glenn came to the table and placed a large tray next to my table.  Could the arrival of my pizza be far behind?

A few minutes later, my monster pizza arrived on its metal tray and was placed next to my table.  Glen took the large pointed pizza spatula and made two incisions in this masterpiece which bubbled happily as it looked forward to comforting me.  He placed a slice on my oversized pizza plate and I began to eat. 

It was fantastic.  Great crust, great sauce, loaded with toppings and cheese and piping hot.  I tossed on some oregano and some crushed peppers.  I was in hog heaven.  I had found an incredibly great pizza!  I ate that slice and a second and a third (can you say “oink”) and Glenn boxed the remaining five pieces for me to take home.

When I got my bill I noticed that I hadn’t been charged for my beverage and I brought that to Glenn’s attention.  He told me that it was their policy that beverages were included in the price of the meal – which, incidentally, was $17.  This was $13 less expensive for a larger and far superior pie than the one I had gotten from Dom DeMarco’s.

I left Glenn a 25% tip and asked to speak to the manager – but he was unavailable.  I did call later to talk with him to let him know how impressed I was with the service, his restaurant and their pizza.  I know that he appreciated the compliment.  I will definitely spread the word about this fine establishment.  Well, I guess in writing this I have already started doing that.

I have a few more comfort meals coming out of this adventure and I have finally reached my goal of finding a great pizza out west.  Now that that is out of the way, I guess I’ll turn to my other goal which is to find the solution for finally achieving world peace.

It’s just a thought, but I wonder if we assembled all of the world’s leaders and sent them to have a meal at Uncle Angelo’s Pizza Joint it might just improve their attitudes. 

And in that, we could all take comfort.

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