Sunday, January 1, 2012
I Heart New York Pizza, If Only Elsewhere, And In the Deep American South
I told Herbert the fact I was about to consume five colossal slices of some food I previously hated might very well suggest that his pizza was more than simply delicious; it was remarkable, even special. A gift from the culinary gods. Herbert accepted the compliment with laughter and a smile. But he grew serious, downright contemplative, when asked what, in his opinion, made his pizza so goddamned good. Herbert raised his chin. He narrowed his eyes. He put his forefinger on his lips and nodded.
"It's the water," he said, finally. "The water in the dough. It comes from the river. The river is magic."
An hour before, I had seen two alligators swimming in the same river of which Herbert now spoke. So magic the river must be. I returned to my booth, already full from my previous slices, and managed to take down my pizza with the finger-licking ferocity of a man who hadn't eaten in a week. And yes, I even ate the crust. But as I was leaving, a panhandler came into the store. He was the same dread-wearing, hippy-love-shit kind of a guy, whom I had seen earlier begging for spare change on his all-too-dubious mastery of the African finger-piano. He came into I Heart New York Pizza and laid down three dollars worth of small change for a single slice of Herbert's amazing pizza. And as I watched him spill his dirty money across Yani's counter, asked myself this: would I lay down my last three dollars on a single slice of Herbert's cheesy deliciousness? That's a no-brainer. The answer arrived in a nano-second: Yes, emphatically, yes.