Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

March 13, 2010

Pizza Consciousness and Family Tradition..

Last Friday night was another in a long line of Curran pizza nights, nothing special, just one of thousands we've had for about 30 years or so. We always get two, for ourselves and whoever might drop by anymore, though we can count on the kids who still live with us off and on. It all started in Hawaii, when we tried to have a family night each Friday consisting of pizza and a video. Pizza was pretty outrageous for our family of eight kids and Hawaii living was so expensive anyway; but that's where our tradition started. And each Friday night since, we've been having pizza, with a very few exceptions. But what kind of pizza is the question.

After we moved to Utah, and not having much money most of the time we've been here, we've tried all kinds of pizza, depending on how much money we had. And videos? Well, forget that after a while because as the kids grew, it became increasingly hard to find one video everyone liked, let alone find one that was decent enough to show in a family setting at home. So videos went out the window. We turned to tv watching of any sort we could all agree on while eating whatever pizza we could decide upon too. You had to have something to watch while eating pizza, eh? And usually it was all gone before much watching took place. And of course, we've kept the soda pop industry alive with all the drink we've washed it all down with.

For many years, we had to do the frozen kind from Smiths or Albertsons. Usually it was Totinos, little teeny pizzas we could buy cheap and in bulk so each person could actually have his own. When that got old fast, it might have been Red Baron or some such cardboard crusty kind to try to make up for the real deal. We even discovered we could almost make our own brand, something close to real, using toasted French bread with spaghetti sauces first, then pepperoni and mozzarella cheese we cut ourselves, until cheese started coming out in bags already shaved. We burned too many of those kind under the broiler though before we finally got the timing of ingredients and heat in balance. So many smoky memories.

We eventually discovered a mom and pop pizza shop in south Provo which made its own pizzas with fantastic dough which came ready to cook. We would on special occasion drive all the way down from Orem and buy a few and treasure them all the way back. That became an obsolete option however, once we discovered that Papa Murphy's new chain did the same thing and was only a few blocks away. And when we tired of that, we could order from a new Papa John's that took over from the Taco Time that went our of business right down our street. And they had litle green chilis and garlic butter with theirs! Of course, I've always preferred Pizza Hut's crust over the years, and have even tried a Dominoes of two, once they finally got their act together and made something worth eating.

But I question why we made some pizza compromises with these new chains. Take Papa John's for instance. When it first came out, I envisioned Papa John as some wizened old Italian pizza master finally bringing his recipe from the old country so we Americans could appreciate real authentic pizza. I never questioned why his name was John and not Giovanni. His real name is John Schnatter or something very un-Italian and he's about 30 years old. He doesn't deserve the title "Papa" at his age, let alone try to convince us he's Italian and could know anything about pizza making!

And what about Papa Murphy's? When was the last time you saw an Irishman making pizza? I mean hey, I'm Irish myself, but when did the Irish come up with pizza? Maybe if it had corned beef and cabbage on it, yes, but no, I'm sorry, pizza and Paddy don't mix in my book. Yet I got suckered in by it because it offered oven-ready pizza I could bake myself and it also had a great taste. And Pizza Hut? Huts are for jungles or tropical islands, aren't they, but not pizza! And a karaoke bar called Pizza Doc's? Take two pizzas and call me in the morning? I don't think so. But now there are big dine-in pizza places, exorbitant and pricey, just because someone brings it to you. Does that make it better? Without the box?

I remember when I made up a name for a pizza place called "Eatsa Pizza", just for the rhyme of it, envisioning my own place someday. And then to my amazement, saw a place open up in Orem a few years ago with the same name, a cheap pizza buffet with salad and fast food pizza, and I could care less whether it was Italian or not - but just cheap! But it went out of business after only a year or two. Probably lost too much money and people just didn't support it for some reason. I don't know, I'm feeling a little ambivalent about pizza, though I keep ordering it from these aforementioned chains, without thinking anymore, just by tradition.

My mind goes back to one of my first pizza memories in Falls Church, Virginia where we were living with our youngest two, Quinn and Megan. We took them out to eat once at a place that advertised Sicilian pizza. We didn't know what that was, but were intrigued, hoping it wasn't a cover for some Mafia business. We found out it was a deep dish pan pizza, smothered with tons of mozzarella, no pepperoni or anything else, just cheese! It was delicious! They brought us six huge squares of pizza, of which I ate two, Colleen ate two, and the kids ate one each. We were stuffed. As the waiter came over to the table, we thanked him and told him how great it was. He only said, "Are you ready for the other half?" What??? Now that was pizza heaven to the maximus and we took it home, thanking the pizza gods all the way for an unforgettable feast of leftovers!

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