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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Call for Two of These, and Take One in the Morning

More changed subjects than a schizophrenics’ pep rally!

It’s almost dinner time, so I’ve decided to torture myself by looking at restaurant takeout menus. I won’t actually be able to order anything on the menus, you understand — I’ll be in the office for another hour or more, and then I’ll drive home, and then I’ll be able to sit down and really give food a good thinking over. In the meantime, any consideration of food is purely theoretical, and serves only to make me hungrier, which distracts me from what I’m actually doing.

(Which is writing this entry, which itself is distracting me from what I’m really supposed to be doing. It’s all circles within circles, folks, circles within circles.)

“And by cracky, if we’re gonna pay for that food, then it damned well better be swimming in some sort of grease, preferably squeezed from some sort of dead animal, and ideally with a separate cup of the stuff that we can drink for dessert.”

So, anyway, I’ve got these takeout menus, and they all look the same after a while. Or more accurately, they all look like one of two things — greasy pizza menus, or greasy Chinese food menus. Around here, at least, that’s about all we can get delivered to the office. Or maybe it’s just all I ever eat. Eight of one, half dozen the other. Whatever.

(How is it, by the way, that these two niches of cuisine have become the de facto takeout/delivery choices? I mean, I understand that as Americans, we all want to exercise our inalienable right to make other people prepare food and bring it to our doorsteps. And by cracky, if we’re gonna pay for that food, then it damned well better be swimming in some sort of grease, preferably squeezed from some sort of dead animal, and ideally with a separate cup of the stuff that we can drink for dessert. And if it takes more than twenty minutes or so to get said food to us, then we’ll have no choice but to follow the 31st Amendment of these United States and call the restaurant every two minutes, belligerent and profane, until the food arrives. No, really — it’s in the Constitution. Look it up.

But given all of that, I’m still not sure how Signorina Pizza and Lady Fried Rice ended up winning the pageant to represent all of cholesterol-dom in the food delivery industry. Certainly, I would think that Senorita Burrito and Frau Bratwurst, for instance, would have scored just as highly in the artery clogging competition, and they don’t take nearly as long to get into their dresses as their fellow foodstuffs. I can really only see pizza and (American-bastardized) Chinese food having one advantage over other fatso foods, but I suppose it’s a big one: the morning-after test.

See, it’s pretty much a given that if you’re going to actually call someone up on a regular basis to bring you these piping hot boxes of premature death, then you’re also unlikely to be able to pull yourself together the next morning to figure out toast. Or cereal. Or even how to get out of bed. So you want — no, you need — a food that can be carried from the front door directly to your nightstand, withstand the first barrage of flying forks and fingers, and then sit quietly overnight getting ready for round number two.

And of course, pizza is the Grand Poobah master world champion in this process, hands down. I mean, Chinese food is fine — the grease congeals a little bit, and gets the rice all crispy and sticky, and the chicken or beef or whatever tends to mush up and disintegrate after a few hours… this is well and good, of course, and all very appetizing, but nothing compared to the culinary crescendo that is day-old pizza. Slightly-used pizza is a delicacy worthy of royalty, and yet available to all. You don’t even have to be the one who starts the pizza on day one; you can swoop in hours, even days, later and partake of the true feast that is cold, stale pizza pie.

See, there are even two classes of pizza, if you ask the true connoisseur. There are ‘eating’ pizzas, and then there are ‘aging’ pizzas. It’s like white vs. red wine. Some pizzas, you really don’t want to think about eating until they’re at least twelve hours old. At least. Many can be profitably enjoyed into their third or fourth days (though at that point, you need to pick and choose a bit about what started out a mushroom, and what turned into a mushroom along the way). Still, a good aging pizza is a sight, and a taste — and often a smell — to behold. The crust is the first to change, becoming rock-hard on the bottom and chewier as it nestles into the toppings. Pepperoni and other meat-like items will become somewhat rubbery at first, then gradually harder and finally dense and shrivelly.

(But then again, don’t we all?)

Onions and peppers will wrinkle as well, and regale the eagle-eyed watcher with a stunning progression of browns and grays before settling into a thick, crunchy black. The tomato sauce, oddly, is relatively inert throughout the process — it thickens a bit, and serves to glue everything together, but it doesn’t really do anything. Just like a damned vegetable…

But the cheese — the cheese is the real star of the show. If you order a pizza while you watch your Saturday cartoons, by dinnertime you’ll be able to caulk your tub with the cheese.

(Not that I’m suggesting any actual housework or physical activity, mind you. It’s just a figure of speech. Don’t get your knickers in a twist over it.)

By midnight, the cheese is cement. Don’t be tempted to gobble it up then, though! A truly spectacular pizza needs to gel overnight. Rock yourself to sleep with the lullaby sounds of the cheese gurgling and churning, working its greases deep into the pizza. Sleep well, and long, and when you wake, your new best friend will be there waiting. Don’t bother with cleaning, or washing, or brushing anything at that point. Don’t even get out of bed. Just reach over, open the box, and grab a little slice of Heaven, all for yourself. It just doesn’t get any better than that.)

Nice. One paragraph of topic, six pages of parenthetical aside. Just what I get for writing hungry. Well, on the good side, I diddled all my time here away, so I can go home and actually get some food now. Of course, on the bad end of things, I did eat three packets of hot sauce while I wrote it out of desperation. Plus a plastic spoon. Oh, and my left sock.

So anyway, things didn’t quite go where I planned, but hopefully we all got something out of it. Now you know that a Little Caesar’s ‘Pizza Pizza’ deal isn’t just dinner for four anymore. Now it can be a psychedelic three-day tour through the wonders of pseudo-Italian cuisine, the effects of atmospheric moisture on baked bread dough, and an exploration of what hungry little things are hiding within the walls of your house this very moment, waiting to stamp their hairy little feet in anything tasty you might leave lying around.

(Which reminds me: do be sure to finish the pie before the anchovies start to walk off by themselves, hmm?)

So clearly, this has been of service to you today. Ooh, and I learned how to spell connoisseur.

So it’s yet another win-win blog entry. And since my work seems to be done here, I’m off to order some dinner. And tomorrow’s breakfast, and lunch as well, all in one handy square box. I can hardly wait to clean off my nightstand and get started. Bon appetit!

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