Friday, May 20, 2011

Pizza and Potato Chips

It's so crazy how something I've probably seen hundreds of times will randomly spark a memory I haven't thought of in years. My boys and I were at the Reds game on Sunday, walking near the stadium, when I looked up and saw a sign for "Mike-sells". Mike-sells is a local potato chip/snack food company that distributes mostly in the Midwest. Their wavy potato chips, including the ones that have the greenish edges from being cute too close to the peel (?), have a special place in my heart. On Sunday afternoon when I saw that sign, I was transported for a second to pizza night at my parents' house WAY back when I was little.

Pizza night when I was growing up did not involve a delivery guy or carry-out. Sure, from time-to-time we did buy pizza. But that wasn't "pizza night." Pizza night when I was growing up always started with some yeast, water, flour, and a pinch of sugar. Pizza was the thing my dad made. And as soon as we were old enough to spread tomato sauce or sprinkle oregano, my sisters and I had our hands all over it. I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't help make pizza or know how to make pizza.

The dough that results from my dad's recipe is very... yeast-forward (no, I don't know if that's a real thing, but "yeast-y" just sounds weird). It's not like anything I've every had in a restaurant, and yet it is still my favorite pizza to eat. I now make it with my boys at least a few times a month. Back in the day, pizza night was a huge deal and usually involved company. Even if that company was just the neighbors.

I know we ate a lot of pizza in the winter, including every Christmas Eve, but my main memories of pizza night were in the summertime. We didn't have air conditioning and despite having every window open and multiple fans working overtime, the house would get increasingly warm from the oven being on and opened/closed to cook multiple pizzas. We (my sisters and I, the neighbor kids, and all the adults) would eat in shifts around the ancient, creaky table in the dining room. When the pizza with the toppings you liked was ready, you'd get a paper plate with a slice, a perspiring cup of 'Pepsi-free' (pizza night was one of the few times we were allowed to have soda), and a handful of wavy, Mike's-sells potato chips.

And there you have it. The crazy way my mind works. Walking on a chilly, rainy day in the city with my kids, and all it takes is seeing an advertisement to take me back to a sweet memory of a sweltering, summertime joy from my childhood. I don't think I've eaten chips with pizza in years, but for the past few days all I could think about was getting some Mike-sells chips and savoring a memory. Luckily, I went to the supermarket today. If you'll excuse me, my writing is keeping me from a salty, crispy snack and some serious reminiscing.

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