A Tale of Two Pizza’s

The choice is thick or thin. Families have been at stalemate for centuries with knife and fork in hand.

The thing to know about pizza is that there is no middle ground for thick or thin. As you read this, you already know your favorite style. Unless God forbid, you are a carb counting, card-carrying, cauliflower crust loving Karen! If that’s you, go ahead and stop reading now.


For the rest of us, we want flavor. We like cheese, especially for Americans; we want every topping, including the kitchen sink on our pizza. I mean, can you really be a Fun-guy without mushrooms?
For me, I’ve always favored thick crust, double mozzarella, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and dare I say it… pineapple. Yep there it is. Perfection.


During a recent trip up North, I started daydreaming about pizza. I messaged friends who I know live or have lived in Chicago, asking for authentic deep-dish pizza location recommendations. They all messaged back with the name Lou Malnati’s. With an honorable mention, they named Giordanos as their second choice.
From where I was in Michigan, I charted my course to the Windy City. It was three states and two hours away. With a full tank of gas and an address plugged into my GPS, I was on my way.

Peroni Italian Beer


Chicago signage has a sense of nostalgia. Maybe it reminded me of the way Hollywood portrays the strong economic era before the 2nd World War. Strong, confident, and welcoming. The sign to Malnati’s is no different. It beckoned me from across the street as soon as I saw it.


I was that guy. I was the hungry guy who followed my nose through the front door. My timing was perfect. It was that sweet spot between lunch and dinner. Lucky me, they had a table at their rollup glass garage door. On a 1-10 level of food excitement, I was a 10. So excited that I ordered two pizzas. I wanted to experience all of it.

Two authentic Chicago Deep Dish pizzas


The uniqueness of Lou’s is the Butter Crust. It coats your fingers and prepares your tastebuds for the boldness of the pie. I chose “The Malnati.” The sausage had a little kick that made my nose run before I finished my first slice; thats a good thing. Along with the vine tomato sauce and extra cheese, it would be hard to beat. My second pizza choice was “The Lou,” named after the founder. In my opinion, this is an excellent complement to the first pie. The three kinds of cheese bridged the void from the plate to my mouth. Add the flavor of spinach, garlic, basil, onion, mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes!!! Yes, please.
I washed everything down with an Italian beer and took in the moment. I was sitting in Chicago and happy in a food coma on deep-dish pizza.

Your turn, what and where is your favorite pizza?

Christmas Down Under

A few years ago, I spent Christmas in NYC. The entire city covered in beautiful decorations, crowds buzzing with excitable anticipation, the smells of home-cooked meals filling the air. And as much fun as it was running around town like I was Kevin McCallister, it just wasn’t the same as the Australian summertime Christmas I’m used to. We have some pretty unique traditions down here that may seem a little odd to those of you in the northern hemisphere!

Santa in shorts

For starters, it’s too bloody hot, so Santa ditches the britches for shorts and sandals. Pretty flip floppin’ festive!

It’s quite rare to see a group of carol singers wandering the neighbourhoods. Instead, our bush fire brigade pimp their fire trucks with tinsel and lights, one of the crew dresses up as Santa, and they drive around the streets handing out candy canes.

You know those awkward family portraits people get every year with mall Santa? How much better are they when you take them down on the beach! Although it would seem that no matter what country you’re in, there’s always one screaming kid in the photo!

We adapt the lyrics of traditional carols to suit our climate. We’re pretty proud of our version of 12 Days of Christmas with the ‘six sharks a-surfing.’

There aren’t any reindeer in the Southern Hemisphere, so it’s kangaroos pulling our sleighs. Rod the Roo has us covered.

And the night before Christmas, forget leaving out milk and cookies. The kangaroos are happy with grass, and Santa is left an ice-cold beer. Cheers mate!

With no snow around, we opt to build a Sandman!

No holly or mistletoe here, our decorations are made using beautiful native Australian flowers.

Ugly sweaters? Pffft, you’ll be lucky if we even wear shirts!

Prawn

When the weather is so beautiful outside, the last thing you want is to be trapped in the kitchen cooking a hot meal. Instead, we do an early morning prawn run (a dash to the market to buy some fresh prawns) and cook them up on the bbq to have with fresh salads. Go on; I know you’re already desecrating my accent with your ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’ impression.

Yum!

Who wants pudding when it’s the season for beautiful fresh fruit. A pavlova covered in colourful fruit goes down a real treat. The great debate about whether this is an Aussie or a Kiwi invention is real. We add a little kiwi fruit to ours just in case.

After a big Christmas lunch, what do you usually do? Take a nap by the fire? Not us. We’re up having a game of cricket on the beach or in the backyard. Wheelie bin wickets for the win!

Backyard Cricket

Then it’s time to cool down – a swim, a water fight, running through the sprinkler in your underwear or sliding down the Crocodile Mile (our version of a slip and slide)

Ahhhh… There’s nothing quite like an Aussie Christmas.

Have you ever celebrated Christmas in a warm country? Maybe next year you can join us for Christmas on the boat. We’ll be basking in the Caribbean sunshine somewhere, celebrating with a fusion of international Christmas traditions. Vegemite cocktails, anyone?

Santa surfing

*** Editors Note: Americans should know that Aussies use the word Prawn instead of shrimp. Hollywood tricked us in believing the popular phrase “throw another shrimp on the barbie.” I myself, have been schooled by Nat, with a waving finger and the stink eye. ***