Hot Pizza

Hot Pizza was inspired from a visit to Italy in 2008. We were staying with Renee and Jesse in the Navy personnel housing compound in Aversa. Jesse and I went out one night to pick up a pizza from a local pizzeria and chicken shop in their ’97 Taurus . We rode through town in search of it for 45 min.; the scenic route of course.
“Hey, how about that place,” I said as a lit Hot Pizza sign loomed on the left. I had seen it earlier but that would have spoiled the tour.
“Yah, that’s it.” Jesse said. ” We just need a parking space close by.”
That was how the tour began 45 min ago, I thought as I mentioned it back then.
However, after parking we walked the two blocks back to the pizza shop. We passed some lovely gardens in the dark full of ripening lemons; they were as large as grapefruits and smelled magnifico. Outside the shop was a rotisserie running of chickens, it was an open barbecue of fire brick and stone. Wow! no glass or bars, you could reach right in and grab one as they rotated by; you would probably get a nasty burn and very little chicken for they were quite secured to the bicycle chained steel pinned rack.
Inside the seemingly deserted shop we found a large family sitting at a long table to the left the counter-bakers table. We nodded in greeting and a young man got up from his chair, put on a tall bakers hat and took our order from behind the counter. All this taking place in close to candlelight conditions.
Behind the counter sat an open hearthed wood oven with a happy blaze and bed of coals glowing orange; great for marshmallows.
The baker deftly spread out the dough on his table then whirled it momentarily airborne to the huge black wooden paddle and spread it again for the oven. This only took maybe sixty seconds or less. We watched absorbed in the culinary display.
The baker or should I say “Pizzateer” then slid the first of two pies into the fiery oven with a hiss onto the griddle. He prepared the Calzone chicken pie as the first Margherita style cooked. With a twist and a hiss the second was in and the first out, done and boxed. One, two turns and a flip later the calzone followed the first into a box and we were out the door. I walked to the car in silence, amazed and impressed at the elegance of that simple family pizzeria.
There we were in the birthplace of the Pizza as it was from the first. Later back stateside; huddled up in our bungalow in West Bend as the snows of March blew cold; I drew some cartoons of that adventure. I worked with a fever on those drawings, smiling all the while. When I finished the collection a small voice told me,”Now write the story.” so it began.
God doesn’t speak to me like that very often, so I followed His direction.


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