When I was a kid there was no Pizza Hut, There was no Pizza-Roma. There was no Tri-City Pizza. There may have been pizza but NOT in Bangor, Maine. The idea wasn’t even alien. It simply didn’t cross anybody’s mind. One evening in 1949 that all changed.
We were all gathered in the living room after dinner, doing what ever we did before television. I was probably abusing my younger brother and Mom & Dad were reading. I’m sure Dad was engrossed in an adventure novel (10 cent paperback) and Mom was reading a magazine. (Family Circle, Woman’s Day or Good Housekeeping.)
There must have been a lull in the bullying of my brother because I remember my Mom ask Dad, “What are anchovies?” He glanced up from his book and said, “Little fish, like sardines.” Then Mom asked, “What is Mozzarella?” Dad answered, “It’s cheese, a soft cheese from Italy.” (Dad had been to Italy so he was an expert.) In another minute, Mom asked. “What is Marinara?” Dad answered without looking up from his book, “Tomato sauce, Italian style, with oregano.” “What’s oregano?” “It’s like pepper but leaves.” Quiet descended. In a few minutes, Mom got up and magazine in hand headed for the kitchen. Cooking sounds followed.
Mom came and went from the living room for an hour or so and finally yelled for me to help her in the kitchen. I helped carry 4 plates of something square and colorful to the living room and we all tried something Mom said was Pizza for the first time. It was an odd, but not unpleasant taste and we all made short work of it. She said, “I didn’t have everything in the recipe so I made some substitutions. The bread is just a regular bread dough stretched to fit a cookie sheet and flattened out. I didn’t have Marinara which Dad said was tomato sauce. I didn’t even have any tomato sauce in the cupboard so I used tomato paste and spread it over the bread, The only cheese I had was Velveeta so I used that instead of mozzarella. I’ve never even seen an anchovy so I used sardines. I just used black pepper instead of oregano. How did you like it?”
We loved it. And it became a regular item at our house. It was about another 10 years before I had what we call pizza today. It took a while to get used to it.