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Pizza Goes Uptown, Upscale
by Barbara Ann Rosenberg

Pizza Pizza has peaked...or so they tell us. "They" being industry experts who are given to sage pronouncements about the future of such important products as pizza.

So, where do we go from here?" pizza aficionados want to know, unwilling to believe that, after double digit growth through the 60s 70s and 80s their favorite food seems to be headed "down the tubes". Actually, while growth of "traditional" or even "fastfood - chain" pizza outlets may have slowed down, specialty upscale pizzas have taken hold!

These new upscale pizza venues wouldn't think of buying their dough in bulk - - or, worse, buying their dough frozen. The upmarket pizza makers create their own dough from "scratch" (i.e. flour, water, yeast)- - once a day at least and sometimes, even two or three times or more on a really busy day when the ovens are going full blast to keep up with the demand of pizza-hungry patrons.

It's really strange, actually, for me to think in terms of pizza being an upscale item. It was, in my youth, about a millennium ago, something that was consumed in the back room of bars in immigrant Italian neighborhoods by working-class folks went looking for something similar to the taste of "home" And, it is all the more strange, in fact, when I think about it because my elegant mother, one of the early women lawyers in Massachusetts, never drank much of anything - - but, once she was introduced to pizza by a client, she became a veritable addict and didn't seem to object to going to decidedly downscale bars to get it

So that is how this little kid got to taste her first pizza (and many after that) always in the back room of bars. You might say that by the time I was of a legal age to drink, I had become a true connoisseur - - and nearly as much of an addict as my mother, going from one bar to another, always in search of the "perfect" pie, as we had begun to define it. We liked the crust thin in the middle and puffy around the edges; the tomato sauce rich in flavor and bright with seasonings; and the cheese stretchy....really stretchy so that it strung out from your bite to as far as your arm would reach! Scamortz, mozzarella - - all, of course, "way back then" made of nothing less than whole milk And, naturally, with enough oil slathered on the pie so that when you got it burning hot from the fire and took your first bite, it seared the roof of your mouth! Painful but delicious! Sausage and a few other toppings were offered as a way to "gild the lily" if you absolutely had to ...but it was the basic pie that wasimportant.

So, now when I am confronted by a plethora of choices, I always gulp first and then ask basic questions. "Green peppers? - - are they fresh? How about the mushrooms? Sausage...sweet or hot...or, horrors, generic sausage from the supermarket?" And on and on.




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