My favorite food in the world, hands down, is pizza in most any form. Now, I love just about any kind of good food out there and will eat almost anything at least once, but if I were limited to eating only one kind of food breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of my life, it would be pizza.
I love pizza because it can be so many different things all at once. It's one of the few foods that can manage to cover all the food groups at the same time. But the thing I think I love most about pizza is that in most cases it's a food that's meant to be shared. Of course, herein can lie the problem.
Starting a pizza relationship with someone can be an awkward moment in a friendship, and it often takes work to make that pizza relationship really sing. When pizza is such an important thing in your life, you don't want to have a bad pizza relationship with someone or start off on the wrong foot, because, well, then your friendship might end up with a black mark on it.
I know, I know: personal-sized pizzas. They work sometimes, but without sharing a pizza with someone who has different tastes than you, how will you further your development in your own personal relationship with pizza? It can be a thrilling experience.
There's also the pleasure of a long-running pizza relationship. My mother and I have a standing pizza date whenever I'm in Memphis at my favorite pizza joint. We order the same kind of pizza every time without discussion and then we talk about anything and everything under the sun. It's so comforting my life would be thrown in turmoil if we skipped said date one visit.
In a long-running pizza relationship, it's just that easy. You know each others' preferences and turnoffs. There's rarely any hard feelings.
But when you order a pizza with someone for the first time, there's probably a million things running through your head: What if she doesn't like sausage? Will he judge me for my toppings preferences? OMG, what if we're not pizza compatable?
Being pizza incompatible is a fate worse than hell, in my book. That's why you have to start gently. I always like to get my nonnegotiables out there first. My deal breakers, if you will.
Take for example, the pizza outing last Saturday. We had dined together several other times previously but never in any fashion that required us to share food, much less the holy pizza. Still, we took the next step in our dining experience by opting for pizza at the best joint in town.
"I don't do mushrooms," I say. "I just can't stand their texture."
"I'm not a fan of the chunky slices of tomatoes," he says. "I don't mind them if they're smaller, but here that's never the case."
"No problem, we can work around that," I say. (It's always important to encourage one another in your pizza journey so as to keep feelings from being hurt.)
Then it's a decision of whether to go for one of the pre-designed pizzas on the menu or freestyle from the 'Choose your own toppings' options. On the first date in a pizza relationship, I recommend just sticking with a pre-designed pizza. That's a great way to see what each of you is made of when it comes to your pizza tastes.
"I could eat just about any of these," I say. (Not terribly helpful, but at least trying to show I'm flexible. Plus, I'm afraid to confidently suggest the ham and pineapple. Too risky too soon. )
"Do you like pesto pizzas?" he asks. (Bold move, but a good one.)
"Love them," I reply.
We scan the menu. The pesto pizza has portabello and roma tomatoes on it. The pizza gods are not going to make it easy on us.
We discuss freestyling. We throw out a few potential toppings. We get distracted by our beers and our conversation. The waiter stops by to ask us if we're ready, and we sheepishly ask for a few more minutes.
"How about the No. 14?" he throws out there.
I scan: fresh spinach, red onion, roma tomato, kalamata olive, banana pepper, feta cheese, fresh oregano & organic baked tofu or andouille sausage.
It works ... I love greek-style pizzas, spinach is a go-to topping for me, I love banana peppers and feta and the andouille sausage sounds like fun.
"Yes, good choice. You can throw the tomatoes on my side if you want." (In searching for pizza compatability, sometimes you have to compromise.)
We dine. It's delicious. He seems to enjoy it too. The first step has been taken in the pizza relationship.
Wait ... is she still talking about pizza?