Pizza: An Owner’s Manual

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04/16/2005

131 Saint Marks pl, New York, NY

Neighborhood: Lower East Side

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On our weekly descent into hell last night, we stopped at Nino’s for a slice.

You can tell the New Yorkers from the By-Way-Of’s through a brief surveying of pizza eating technique; New Yorkers fold.

You learn this at a young age.

Hopefully, someone at some point in your upbringing takes you aside and shows you how. Or else you just pick it up somewhere - like sex or the truth about Santa - on the street. Same as the carvel ice cream cone; you learn to lick around, but never down.

The TSS mall had a carpeted atrium, and an expansive hallway down which a Carvel ice cream store, a pizza place, a pet shop and an arcade were open for business through most of the 80's. There was also TSS itself, the department store, but that didn’t interest me much as kid, with its blenders and pillowcases; that was for my parents. On some Sundays, they would take my two older brothers and me to the mall and go shopping in the department store, leaving us to play video games in the arcade or somehow get the birds all stirred up at the pet store. This could keep us busy for quite sometime, and when my parents finally finished their shopping they knew where to find us.

Arthur, most probably, was deeply engaged in Ms. Pacman’s unending quest for points and escape in a universe that scientists have recently surmised is quite similar to our own (like a donut; if you depart on one end you will return on the other, supposedly); Alex could be found teaching the parrots to insult me for being small; and me, I was watching the hamsters in their cages, barely moving at all, while I’d stare overtly consumed, pretending not to hear the insults of the birds.»

After they gathered us all together, and I had related to my parents, my brothers’ most recent cruelties - how I’d been persuaded to give a dime for a penny, for example, as a penny was bigger and its color more closely resembled gold - we ate lunch, where I learned how to eat pizza.

There was, my dad told me, an exact science to it; a simple method that I would carry with me always. Folding the crust in half was paramount, I learned. Any other way was plainly barbaric. Application of the proper technique was direct proof of a well developed cultural savvy and a fine tuned epicurean erudition. I folded and chewed. At pizza parties ever after, I was a beacon of sophistication and subtlety, and to a few of my dear, hapless friends, I gently passed on the instructions.

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