Very much not New York pizza

Image result for pizza


A recipe for pizza toast in Atlanta starts out as cold comfort, then provides a path forward

By: Julia Bainbridge/

I checked the weather app on my iPhone as soon as my plane touched the ground in Georgia. It registered 89 degrees. Hours before, I finished a cup of coffee in a drizzly Manhattan and hugged my friend goodbye, and when I discovered the app’s findings, I texted her a screenshot. “Jealous!” she responded.   I abhor the heat.

Rummaging through the refrigerator in the apartment I’ve lived in for just over a year, I found sliced sourdough bread, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese that I had shredded and stored in a plastic container. I toasted the bread and then layered on the tomato sauce, which I mixed with a tablespoon of an Indian-style tomato condiment that another friend makes (and sells through her company Brooklyn Delhi) and then the mozzarella, which I melted under my oven’s broiler. It was a kind of pizza, I guess; pizza toast, let’s call it. It was fine. It was dinner that night.

Four nights earlier, I had ordered a New York pizza. It was a New York pizza in style — generous in diameter, with a thin, crisp but pliable crust — but also in fact. I was in New York and I ordered a pizza. It was a New York pizza because it was baked, sliced, delivered and, ultimately, devoured in New York. Hundreds of pizzas were simultaneously being delivered within a couple miles of me, and they were all New York pizzas.

This particular one arrived in a 20-inch cardboard box via a slender man named Weiqun. The time was 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and as I stood on the sidewalk in my silk pajama set waiting for Weiqun to unzip his insulated carrying case, I noticed a handsome brown leather briefcase to my left. Following the navy pant leg of its owner up to his face, I saw a late twenty-something man leaning against the brick facade of my friend’s apartment building, wrapping up a phone call about some business deal or another. Whether or not he does so ironically, I was charmed to discover that at least one millennial carries a briefcase to work.

For 30 seconds, Weiqun, the millennial financier and I were subjected (happily, in my case) to the synthesizers in Rihanna’s ragamuffin-style “Rude Boy” trilling out of the speakers of the boombox affixed to the back of Weiqun’s bicycle seat and onto Thompson Street. Once the pizza box reached my hand, off I went to the fifth floor.

As for the aforementioned devouring, it was done properly, by New York standards: My right-hand thumb and pinkie finger pushed together the two vertices on either side of the crust edge of each cheese-topped triangle, folding it in half lengthwise. I ate three slices, standing at my friend’s kitchen counter while streaming a Netflix documentary about early 90s-era club kid (and criminal) Michael Alig on my laptop.


I thought of that pizza as I plodded around my kitchen in Atlanta and ate my pizza toast in silence, watching the sluggish sway of dogwood trees billowing with flowers through my living room window. Visions of Weiqun came to me, as did flickers of Rihanna’s steel drums. My pizza toast tasted better after the first three bites, as I remembered my New York pizza and the scenario involved in acquiring it. Sometimes pleasure can be had in eating something so unlike the other that, in comparing the two, they’re both with you. The tomato achaar’s black mustard seeds revealed themselves, then the fenugreek. Tamarind! Gosh, I haven’t cooked with tamarind for a while, I thought as I reached the center of the slice. By the time I finished it, I was searching for tamarind recipes on my laptop. The next night I used the fruit’s pulp in a warming and garlicky chickpea curry, something I’d never made before.

New York City, where I lived for ten years, is a dirty, difficult place with endless potential for magic. About once a quarter, most New Yorkers wonder aloud where else they might move. I could have a yard in Nashville. I could afford a second bedroom in Portland. I could own a bed and breakfast in Maine. I could run an heirloom squash farm upstate. In the end, they usually stay. A piece of the reason why is that they feel a part of a phenomenal and phenomenally twisted club. Loving New York for the energy it provides and the willingness to sacrifice so much else for that energy is a very specific taste. Are you wacked enough to immerse yourself in it? So am I. Let’s play.

I left, and I’ll probably return. I say “probably” because, in this year away, a year that forced me into saying I’m in my mid and not early thirties, I’ve grown used to the ease of being able to seat eight guests comfortably at a table in my dining room. I’ve enjoyed the company of less rapacious men, men actually seeking committed relationships. And I’ve had the room to, instead of hustling to pay rent, try new things, like making chickpea curry from scratch. Twenty percent of me still isn’t sure I want to return to carrying my laundry two blocks once a week or engaging in months of flirtatious texts that lead nowhere over and over again. Another thirty percent of me is curious to see what else I might get up to with the time I have now, time that used to be taken up scraping New York’s dirt off of me at the end of each day.

I’ll spend the summer touring Minneapolis, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco and most places in between as I research for a book. Pizza toast will appear here and there to fuel me, I’m sure. Maybe in Philadelphia, I’ll make it on a hoagie roll. Maybe in Los Angeles, I’ll get my hands on some of that tomato achaar and make a version that’s close to my Atlanta original. I’ll think of my kitchen in Georgia and all of other the things I cooked there. And I bet when I order New York pizza, those flavors will be with me.


Pizza Toast

Serves 1

1 slice sourdough bread

1 tablespoon tomato sauce (or whatever your desired amount for spreading)

Shredded mozzarella cheese (usually about 1/4 cup, depending on your mood)

Optional toppings: flaky sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes or dried oregano

Place bread on a sheet pan. Broil on both sides until golden.

Spread one side with tomato sauce and top with cheese. Broil once more until the cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.


She Warned them She wanted her Fries Fresh and Hot!

Image result for threw a wendy's soda

In “The Devil Wears Prada”  Miranda Priestly demanded that her Starbucks be hot SEARING hot.

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota’s own Eiram Chanel Amir Dixson  feels that way about her fries.  She wants them FRESH and HOT !  There will be NO PROBLEM as long as she gets her fries her way.

Well dammit!  There was a break down in communication last Thursday at the Wendy’s drive through in nearby Coon Rapids.

 M’s Dixon didn’t receive hot and fresh fries.


It wasn’t pretty after that!  Ms Dixson got out of her car and told the Wendy’s employees what she thought!  At one point she allegedly started to reach through the drive thru window. and an employee threw a soda at her.

NO THEY DIDN’T ! Ms Dixson went from 350 to 550! 

The Wendy employees said she returned to her car and grabbed her Mace and started spraying it through the drive thru window.

3 Bonus Points

Ms Dixson lazer focused aim earned her three bonus points this round.  She was charged with a felony and  could receive five years in the joint, plus a fine of ten grand.    As she hit the manager who was standing in the window and two other employees with the Mace.

All over hot fries!





Chocolates and scotch

By: Suzanne Dunaway\The American-In Italia

Do you ever follow through with New Year’s resolutions? I admit I haven’t kept track of mine in recent years. They may be on my mind a bit more this year because of the strange and disturbing tidings coming from my home “town” of America.

Someone wrote me recently that we should stock our larders with plenty of chocolate and Scotch. We’ll need them to wash down the mind-boggling developments likely to come out of the U.S. in the coming months. Sounds good to me, but maybe a little Armagnac would go better with the Sprüngli chocolates. Or maybe buy them both and alternate.

As for resolutions, I’ve decided to clean out my excess of carrot peelers, cheese graters, butter paddles, rosemary strippers, and champagne bottle stoppers (the kind that blow holes in the ceiling). That and other doo dads Santa seems drop off are all on their way out.

I’ve also decided that this year I won’t be asking guests about their food allergies or specific likes or dislikes. I’ll make the lunch and dinner meals I want, and let guests decide what to do. I don’t have food dossiers on all my friends and I’m not going to start compiling them now.

I’m not being difficult or defiant. It’s just that the changes in what people can and cannot eat for whatever real or incredibly unreal reason come so fast and furious it’s hard for a cook to keep up. So I won’t.

A very dear friend brings little white pills to dinners at houses or restaurants where she might encounter cow’s milk products. She can thankfully tolerate goat and sheep milk, which keeps cheese in play (heaven forbid a Frenchwoman doing without cheese). When I cook for her I’m careful to use milk alternatives — sorbet instead of ice cream, say. But you’d never know she had a problem. Why? She doesn’t make a fuss. When dining in private homes, she politely eats whatever else is available, and there’s always something, even if it’s just a peanut butter sandwich.

Though I have always tried to cook with Einstein in mind — “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler…” — this year I’m going to try harder. A dish that gives you more than what it’s essence is all about or fails to live up to what it’s essence could be, is probably a dish with too many twists and turns (or maybe you left out the salt).

That may sound flip, but there are way too many recipes that call for 20 ingredients when a handful would do. A few recipes fall short in the other direction: too few ingredients to be really tasty. That’s when your own creativity can kick in. But it’s a thin line.

Take spaghetti alla carbonara. It’s made with pasta, olive oil, bacon, eggs, Parmesan (five ingredients), and boy do they work. So-called creative chefs insist on adding onions, cream, garlic, or even goat cheese. Bad idea.

Coming up with resolution is one thing, going through with them another. But given the goings-on in Washington I do get the feeling I’ll be hitting the Scotch (or Armagnac) and chocolate.












Cake or cuddle? Both should be banned from the workplace

 No touching: offices, like hospitals, are for work not play

No touching: offices, like hospitals, are for work not play CREDIT: SCRUBS TV STILL

By: Rhymer Rigby/UK Telegraph

Yesterday, The Faculty of Dental Surgery, an influential group of dentists, suggested that companies should tackle “cake culture” at work because it contributes to obesity and poor health.

This is long overdue. In the past few years Britain has gone cake mad and this extends to the workplace. Where once we might have seen office cake a couple of time a year, cakes are now brought in to celebrate birthdays, departures, promotions, new hires, making it through the 3pm meeting, and so on. Work in a decent sized office and it’s not unusual to have one or two “cake days” a week.

What’s more, all these “event cakes” come on top of the muffins and Danish pastries and pain au chocolats that people routinely grab on the way to work. If we were a nation of svelte athletes, none of this would matter. But we’re not: almost two thirds of UK adults are overweight or obese. So what’s the solution?

Yesterday, Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum suggested that instead of dishing out cake to colleagues, we should “give them a smile, a hug or both!”

Well, she had me up to the word smile. Hugs at work, I’m not so sure about. You see, old misery guts that I am, not only do I not like cake, I’m not particularly touchy-feely either. I don’t see co-workers and experience an immediate urge to embrace them.

Yet hugging, like cake, has become commonplace in the office. Where once a handshake was enough, hugs are now increasingly de rigeur. Presumably there are even offices where you have a pre-cake hug (if you can reach each other over your sugar-addled bellies).

It would be easy to attack the office hug on robust, old-school grounds. To say that we used to have stiff upper lips. To say that this kind of emotional incontinence is all a bit American and ghastly and unbecoming. To suggest that hugs should be reserved for wives, small children, pets and close friends (if you really must).

But actually it’s just as easy to attack workplace hugging on practical grounds. Indeed, you can even make a strong PC case for a hug-free workplace. The fact is, in a country like the UK, hugging at work is a legal, psychological and managerial nightmare.

For starters, there’s just so much that can go wrong. Lunge in for a hug that’s unexpected or unwanted and at best it will be awkwardly reciprocated. At worst, you could find yourself accused of sexual harassment.


Research published by the TUC in 2016 suggests that over 50% of women have been sexually harassed at work – and, this includes “inappropriate hugging.” What is “inappropriate hugging”? Well, it’s any hug that the recipient doesn’t want. It could be a hug that you meant well. Why take the risk? Do you really want to cuddle a colleague that much?

In some cases there’s also the problem of how it looks. Sure, there may be nothing untoward when a 57-year-old boss hugs a 22-year-old intern. But appearances do matter. And, if you’re that boss, how you know that the 22-year old really wants to hug you? In fact, if you’re any sort of boss, there’s a power dynamic at work. You may be placing the other person under a kind of hug obligation.

Again, why put them (or yourself) in that position? Smile and say good morning instead.

OK, but let’s say you only hug people who you know are totally cool with hugs. And everyone else gets a handshake. Does that mean everything’s OK? No. You’re creating an “in- group” and an “out group.” I might hug Alison and Bob, rather than Claire and Dave, because the first two are huggers – and the second two aren’t. But this can still create the impression that I favour the first group over the second. If I’m in position of power, that’s a potential problem.

Given that hugging tends to be a younger person’s game, there is perhaps a bit more to be said for peer to peer hugging. If Alison wants to hug Bob and Claire and they’re all at roughly the same age and level of seniority, perhaps this gets rid of some of the issues. But even so, problems abound: the hug could be unwanted and the peer group could be split into huggers and non-huggers with the non-huggers feeling an uncomfortable obligation to hug. You see the quagmire we’re embracing here?

Of course, there probably are some situations where hugging a colleague is OK. Perhaps you’re in Argentina or Turkey where people are more tactile and hugging is a cultural norm. Or perhaps you’re meeting a colleague socially. But these are exceptions. In the office, you are unlikely to ever go wrong with a pleasant smile or a handshake.

Perhaps the most compelling reason not to hug colleagues though is that it distorts the idea of what work is “for” and what workplace relationships mean. In this sense, it’s part of the “fun workplace” movement where there’s little distinction between your job and the rest of your life and you’re all in the office to have a great time. Which is great until it all goes wrong.

Say you have to give someone a final written warming. Perhaps you got the promotion a colleague wanted. Or maybe the company’s not doing so well and you have to make some tough decisions. None of these things are fun. But they’re a lot easier if you have a professional working relationship with the other person. And they’re a lot harder if you’ve spent the last two years hugging the individual and they turn round in tears and say, “but I thought you were my friend.”

So yes, by all means let’s get rid of cake in the office. But let’s replace it with fruit, not hugs.

Taco Bell Taco Bell Taco Bell Dammit!

It’s Saturday Night in Lakeland, Tennessee an 22 year old Logan Bagley has a hankerin for some Taco Bell.  A real hankerin!

But the 22 year old didn’t have cash!


Logan was having a full meltdown a Taco Bell withdrawal* which got the attention of their neighbor who stepped out on her porch.  In their garage, she witnessed Logan take out his aggression on a defenseless freezer (that probably never harmed anyone since that unfortunate incident in 2009) with something that looked like a golf club, then the garage door closed.


taco bell! Taco Bell! TACO BELL!

He wanted his mom’s debit card so he could get TACO “DAMM” BELL!

She told him there was no money in the account, but he took it anyway!


The Heartbreak of Decline!

Logan presented his mother’s credit card and …………..

Denied!  Logan was enraged and confronted his mother in their garage. He struck her in the head with a hockey stick and KNOCKED HER OUT!

The police were called…

Mr Badgley told the police he had a few drinks. The police took the hockey stick into evidence and noticed his mom had a one inch  laceration to the head.

Wonder if there is a “Taco Bell ” in the Shelby County Jail?

Charged with aggravated assault, Shelby County Jail is Logan’s home (unless someone other than his mom can bond him out) until his November 1 court date.

* Shelby County does have twelve step meetings to combat Taco Bell Withdrawal.



The 35 signs you’ll never be truly fluent in Italian

The 35 signs you'll never be truly fluent in Italian
The moment when you realize you’ll never be mistaken for a native. Photo: Pexels.
You may have lived here for years, read the textbooks, gone to the classes, even survived an Italian dinner party… but do you ever get the sinking feeling you’ll never be truly bilingual?
By: Catherine Edwards/The Local

You’re not alone. Achieving true fluency in a second language is tough, and even if you’ve shaken off your native accent and use Italian daily with your friends and colleagues, there are usually a few complex bits of the language you’re never sure if you’re using correctly, and most likely have given up caring.

Here are 35 of the signs that you’ll never be truly fluent.

  1. You face a dilemma every time someone asks ‘Parli italiano?’  Do you nod, and risk causing confusion when you’re instantly thrown by their next question, or say no, admitting to them and yourself that the hours you spent studying verb conjugations were basically worthless.
  2. Speaking of verb conjugations, you’re still not quite sure about when to use the imperfect tense, passato prossimo or even the passato remoto.

  3. …But you rarely opt for the latter, because you never did learn the millions of irregular forms.

  4. It annoys you that the word ‘annoiato’ doesn’t mean ‘annoyed’ and that a ‘fattoria‘ isn’t a factory.

  5. Or perhaps you’re familiar with most ‘falsi amici‘, but are still guilty of using‘eventualmente’ (which means ‘possibly’) or ‘attualmente’ (currently) in the wrong way.

The feeling you get after realizing you just sent an important email with several embarrassing mistakes. Photo: Jazbeck/Flickr

  1. You find yourself writing things like ‘communicazione’  and ‘respondere’ and curse the days when you used to think ‘Italian’s so easy, most of the words are basically the same as in English’.
  • You had to read the above sentence several times to figure out what was wrong (it’scomunicazione and rispondere).

  • ‘Nessuna problema’. You always forget that ‘problema‘ is a masculine noun. The same goes for cinema, tema and the rest of the words in that group of irregulars.

  • During arguments, you struggle to piece together a sentence, let alone the well-crafted point you wanted to express. Instead, you stick to hand gestures – hey, at least that’s something.

  • You either avoid using ‘ne’ altogether, or are never totally sure if you’re using it correctly.

  • You’ve accidentally used ‘tu’ with your university tutor or boss, or mixed up ‘Lei’ and ‘tu’.

  • When you bravely attempt to use some of the slang your Italian friends have taught you, they laugh because you’ve said it wrong or it just “sounds so cute in your accent”.

  • Instead of mastering the grammar, you’ve focussed on immersing yourself in more important parts of Italian culture. Like the food. Photo: Kanko/Flickr

    1. You have some kind of embarrassing story about the time you asked if there were ‘preservativi’ in your food, or failed to pronounce the double ‘n’ in ‘penne‘. (Clue: ‘preservativi‘ means condoms, not preservatives, and ‘pene‘ with a single ‘n’ refers to a man’s genitals)
  • When words start with a vowel, you still have to take a moment to remember whether to use ‘un’ or ‘un” with an apostrophe.

  • You say things like ‘Non posso usare i verbi modali’, forgetting that modal verbs are much less common in Italian (for example, ‘non riesco a parlare italiano’ or simply ‘non parlo italiano‘ would sound much better than ‘non posso parlare italiano‘, which implies there is something physically stopping you from doing it.)

  • ‘Vado a casa. Vado al cinema.’ Why the difference? You’ve resigned yourself to the fact you’ll never know.

  • ‘Io parlo italiano‘. Overusing subject pronouns (io, tu, lui, lei…) is a dead giveaway that you’re still thinking in your native language.

  • The same goes for the possessive pronouns ‘mine, yours’ in Italian. It’s much more natural to say ‘ho perso la borsa‘ (I’ve lost my bag) than ‘ho perso la mia borsa’ which is more emphatic (I’ve lost MY bag).

  • You innocently begin a sentence like ‘Se avrei potuto aiutare…’ before realizing you’ve set yourself a horrible trap and now have to figure out which tense to use next. Is it ‘avevo detto qualcosa?’ ‘avrei detto qualcosa?’ or something completely different?

  • You thought you understood your teacher’s explanation, but when you look over your notes you realize it just doesn’t make sense. Photo: CollegeDegrees360/Flickr

    1. Frankly, you’ve given up hope – or at least, given up talking about it. You kick yourself every time you blurt out ‘spero che’, because now you’ll have to use the long-forgotten subjunctive tense. Tip: replace ‘che’ with ‘di’ and you can use the infinitive, just as long as the subject is the same for both verbs. Sneaky!

    21. Knowing when to use or omit the definite article is guesswork more than anything, and you find yourself wanting to throw your unhelpful grammar book at your unhelpful teacher when they say things like “it just depends”.

    22.You rehearse your answers for conversations you’re going to have, and get annoyed when the other person veers off-script. You weren’t prepared for this!

    1. You can get by just fine with your group of Italian friends, but panic when faced with phone calls… and let’s not even mention the hundreds of different dialects.
  • Maybe you’ve begun to lose your native accent, but you’re rarely mistaken for an Italian. People comment on your “unusual dialect” and make guesses at where you might be from.

  • 25. Figuring out whether an ‘ire’ verb is going to conjugate like ‘sentire‘ or ‘dormire‘ is one of life’s little mysteries.

    1. In general, you think Italian plurals are pretty easy but you sometimes forget to add a ‘h’ after ‘c’ or ‘g’ in feminine plurals like ‘amiche‘.
  • You still don’t know where the ‘à’ and ‘ù’ accents are on the keyboard, because you usually just ignore them (or forget they’re even there…)

  • Sono di New York’ but ‘vengo da New York’ – you’re often not 100 percent sure which preposition to use.

  • Photo: Johnny Silvercloud/Flickr

    1. It still feels unnatural to follow ‘qualche‘ (some) with a singular noun. Tip: think of‘alcuni’ as meaning ‘some’, and ‘qualche’ as ‘a… or two’.

    2. You’re pretty sure you know when to use ‘magari’ and ‘mica’ but still feel nervous about casually slipping them into conversation.

    3. You steer clear of compound words like ‘datemelo’ because you’re never sure what order everything should go in. Instead you usually end up plumping for something you know a native would never say, like ‘Puoi dare lo a me?’ Whatever, people still understand what you mean – most of the time.

    4. You sometimes forget that ‘gente‘ (people) is used in the singular, ie ‘la gente pensa che…’

    5. To be or not to be? Whether it’s not knowing whether to use ‘avere’ or ‘essere’ in the perfect tense, or saying something like ‘sono 18 anni’ or ‘sono calda‘, it really is the question.

    6. You’re pleased with yourself for using the verb ‘piacere‘ correctly almost all the time, but sometimes forget that it has to agree with the object. So saying ‘mi piace il libro’ is fine, but ‘mi piace i libri’ is not – it’s ‘mi piacciono‘.

    7. Finally, you’ve accepted that you’ll never pass for native and no longer consult your grammar book every time you want to say something. Instead, you focus on expressing yourself as best you can and accept that sometimes you’ll say something that sounds a little bizarre – and all the Italians you know are fine with that.

    When the Inner Voice Escapes

    A few years ago I discovered Cheetos at a friends house in Austin Texas.  Airy, crunchy, cheesy, who knew. Right!

    The obese man adding yet another item to my very growing arsenal of snacks foods

    I’ve been good, occasionally buying a small bag of Cheetos licking the cheesy goodness from my fingers.

    One day, as I was entering WinnCo there they where. Giant bags of Cheesy Cheetos on sale for $1.88.  In my head I loudly said oooooh Cheetos!   The problem was, 6 people heard me!