It’s Only Words

And a shameless plug for a local business I recommend.

This week my good friend Dr Spo, who reflects, posted about pizza and the rankings he would give to the pizzas of his misspent youth. And then doesn’t Debra, who seeks, posted some pizza memes just yesterday. It made me wish that they could taste the pizza at Nimrods’, the newest addition to the downtown food scene here. Part of a floating food court at Peakes’ Quay it is owned and operated by a trio of young entrepreneurs who had enough faith in their food and their abilities that they did a bit of a David and Goliath act earlier this year. But that is another story best left for a time when I want to rant about the murk and muck that is Municipal politics here in Charlottetown.

If the good Doc (living proof that not all docs is quacks) his Someone, and Debra along with Her Rare One were here they would taste pizza that I’m sure would send them over the moon. It reminds me of San Marino, our old standby when we lived in Rome – and frankly I can’t think of a bigger compliment. It has a thin crust that has been fired in a 5,000 lb, floating, wood burning oven, topped with fresh ingredients and garnishes. The crust has a crunch to it but is tender and slightly chewy with a bit here and there charred from the incredible heat of that clay oven. And the toppings are all fresh, top quality and applied in unusual but tasty combinations. And it’s all made and served up by a great crew – friendly, funny and obviously dedicated.

I haven’t tried the smoked salmon pizza but that’s next on the list.

But enough about that – what has this, asks my faithful reader, to do with the title of your post? “Well,” said he wiping a stray smear of curry cream from a butter chicken pizza off the corner of his mouth, “the name of the establishment: Nimrods’! Strange name for an eating establishment don’t you think? Doesn’t it mean ‘a person who is foolish or inept’? Who wants to eat at a place named after ‘a person who is foolish or inept’? And not only that the punctuation suggests there is more than one “Nimrod” in the mix.

Yes Miriam Webster and the OED define a Nimrod as a foolish or inept person but (and you knew there would be a but) it is qualified as an “informal North American” definition that first appeared in the 1940s. What they don’t tell us is that it was defined by a rabbit! A celebrity rabbit but none the less a member of the family Leporidae: Bugs Bunny.

Yes gentle reader, Bugs Bunny! If nothing else, and he was much else, Bugs was well-read, erudite, and capable of great wit (and sarcasm). In early cartoons he, and subsequently, Daffy Duck refer to Elmer Fudd as “Nimrod, the mighty hunter” in a wicked touch of irony. It’s a direct quote from the King James version of the Book of Genesis where he is referred to as “a mighty one in the earth” and “a mighty hunter before the Lord”. In the Hebrew Table of the Nations he is listed as the great-grandson of Noah and the founder of many great cities. And he features in not only Hebrew and Christian mythology but also in the legends of Islam, and the foundation “histories” of Armenia, Hungary, Finland and even, as the patron of builders, in the early rituals of Freemasonry. In some stories he is credited (blamed?) for the attempts to build the Tower of Babel; in others as the builder of the great cities of Mesopotamia; in yet others the founder of nations; and in at least one tale challenges Abraham to a fight of the godly (Abraham) against the godless (Nimrod). I guess “godly” won that one????

So here was Bugs being all witty, learned sarcasm and what happens? Such are the vagaries of our language that poor old Nimrod goes from being “a mighty hunter” to being “inept and foolish”. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

And as to the people and the fare at his namesake establishment? They are “mighty” fine gals and guy who serve up “mighty” good pizza!

Okay July 25th is another one of those days: Chili Dog Day, Hot Fudge Sundae Day, Refreshment Day, Wine and Cheese Day and Merry-go-round Day. So we celebrate the first four and then take a ride on a Carousel??? That’s a sure fire recipe for disaster.

The Best Pizza in the …

… okay maybe not the world but certainly so far of all the pizza I’ve eaten in Italy, and that’s going some.

Now I’m not talking that doughy bottom burnt disc topped with watery tomato sauce and stringy processed mozzarella-style cheese food that you get at Pizza Pizza. I’m talking about the thin perfectly crisped circle that serves as a platter for all manner of consumables from riccola to roast potatoes throughout Italy. That wonderfully versatile item that can be served as snack, lunch, dinner or even dessert and can be found on the menus of even the most respectable restaurants.

But it was not always thus. In its native Napoli back in the 1880s it was reviled by many. To Carlo Colledi, the author of Pinocchio, it looked “like a patchwork of greasy filth that harmonises perfectly with the appearance of the person selling it.” And it was generally considered as contributing, along with most of the food sold by street vendors, to the on-going outbreaks of cholera in the steaming slums of Napoli. Then in 1889 Raffaele Esposito, a local pizza maker, was called upon to bake a few samples for the very popular Queen Margherita. Apparently his combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves met with Royal Approval (if the above document from Her Majesty’s Mouth Office Inspectorate is to be believed) and was immediately christianed the Margherita. It was was just what pizza needed to send it on its way triumphantly around the world.

But enough history – much of which I found in John Dickie’s delightful Delizia, thanks again Larry for the recomendation – and on to my own pizza nirvana experience.

Picture it! Sicily Torino, October 23, 2008 – the waiter at La Fila, a family owned ristorante on Pizza , places before me a perfectly baked pencil-thin round. It’s topped very simply with a few ample swirls of fresh tomato sauce, flecks of roasted garlic and a liberal sprinkling of oregano. I cut into it, take a piece in my hand, bring it to my mouth and …

… Going …

… Going …

… Gone!

Pizza Perfection! Now if I can only get them to delivery to Roma!

27 ottobre – San Frumenzio