Pizza is a uniquely special food to me. In this essay, Iíll explain what I mean by that.
Pizza has always just sort of been there for me. I have childhood memories of mom every now and then bringing home a box of Chef Boy R D pizza that we would watch her work up in the kitchen. I remember in my high school years going to Johnnyís Pizzeria in Fenton, MI after movies at the Drive In Theater. And there were countless pizza meals everywhere in between and later going through college.
Pizza took on new meaning to me one night in Billings, Montana. Marsha and I were living in Bolder, Colorado at the time. I traveled around the western states a fair amount for my job and it was time to buy a new car. This was the first car I purchased after moving away from Michigan and I ended up deciding on a Mazda RX-7. It was a popular car at the time, back in 1982, so popular that they were selling all of them they could manufacture, and over list price. I had been researching the market in my travels and found one in Butte, Montana that had been ordered by a guy that changed his mind and bought something else. It was sitting in the local dealerís lot, he offered it to me at list price. I though about if for a week or so, then called him back and told him Iíd take it, and add in a couple of studded snow tires. Iíll be back up to pick it up in mid December. Prime Computer upgraded their Primos Operating System and I needed to go make appropriate changes for some software Iíd written for Montana Power.
As it turned out, Marsha had to go on a similar business trip to Portland, Oregon about the same time, and could save her company money by returning to Billings instead of Boulder. After I finished my work at Montana Power, I picked up my shiny new car and drove the 225 miles to Billings to pick Marsha up at the airport. After checking into a local hotel, it was time for a late dinner. We cruised the snow-covered streets of Billings in our new sports car looking for something still open, and found a quaint little pizzeria. They served up the best thin crust, New York style pizza I can ever remember having, with huge chunks of sausage, pepperoni, and mushrooms.
From that point in time, that became my benchmark that Iíve compared pizza to. Not much time passed before we ended up moving to Northern California. We ended up in a company-sponsored apartment in Cupertino, with most of our stuff in storage, including my RX-7, until we found a house to buy a couple of months later. While we looking for housing, once a week we would try out a new community, driving around its streets looking for thin crust pizza. We searched through Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Saratoga, Cupertino, and the surrounding areas, picking out a restaurant each night as we got our feel for the area. Then we stumbled upon Ciceroís in Cupertino. It was the best! We ended up buying our house in Cupertino, not too far from their location on De Anza Blvd. They didnít deliver, but it was a short drive. In later years, Ciceroís won first place in the pizza category in a best of Silicon Valley vote conducted by the San Jose Mercury News. It became my new benchmark.
Pizza became our easy meal, which you need now and then if you both work. Sometimes we were too lazy to drive and would opt for another pizza because they delivered. Iím surprised at how many times we enjoyed Dominos because they delivered in less than 30 minutes. The last year before we went cruising, we sold our town home and moved up the peninsula to an apartment in San Bruno so we would be closer to Spirit to be able to work on it getting it ready to cruise while we were still working. I canít remember the name of the pizza we had delivered about once weekly, and I canít remember it being memorable, but I know we relied upon it for the easy meal of the week, all the way up to the point when we untied the dock lines, headed out the Golden Gate, and turned Spirit left.
Guess what, they donít deliver off shore.
Looking for that perfect thin crust pizza is a great way to begin to explore new ports of call, but what I discovered during the times we were getting mileage under the keel by doing over nighters was I missed pizza, and I was willing to make it from scratch to get it. And as it turned out, it was an excellent way to spend off watch time when you werenít trying to get some sleep. The routing would be one beer at sunset, then weíd figure out what the weather was going to do for the night and adjust the sail plan accordingly. Marsha would take the first watch while I made dinner. It was OK if it took 2 Ė 3 hours because, well, what else was there to do while motor sailing into the dark when youíre off watch. Having the oven on kept the interior of the boat cozy warm. When itís done, itís easy to serve up to and eat in the cockpit. We witnessed what used to be our easy meal become one of our favorite pass times, making pizza.
Other topics to be completed:
Rocks, Mickyís contest. Alameda Pizza. 625 degrees or as hot as you can get it. Cotton seed oil, Rice Bran Oil. Pot Pies. Pizza at the Albertís with Ciceroís dough. Photo of RX-7.† Dominos magnet from La Paz.