May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Twenty years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a kosher pizza place offering grandma-style slices. Even ten years ago, the hunt for grandma, as in the pizza, would have been a struggle. Similarly, the hunt for grandma, as in the bubbie, also was a struggle twenty years ago, especially before cell-phones (“Has anyone seen my grandma? She’s extremely senile… except, of course, when she’s scolding me about not being married yet.”)

Nowadays, grandma-style pizza is nearly ubiquitous. Popular pizza parlors like Sammy’s in Teaneck, Zevy’s in Fairlawn and Saba’s in Manhattan pride themselves on consistently offering high-quality grandmas, as in the pizza, that never disappoint. Life also offers high-quality grandmas, as in the bubbies, that never disappoint, especially when you need an unsolicited, over-the-top compliment that is far less about veracity and far more about elder ego-pumping: “My granddaughter is a supermodel, genius mensch with a sharp wit and perfect pitch. And those are her worst qualities!”

Grandma pizza slices are easy to spot due to their square or rectangular shapes, which noticeably differ from the triangularity of regular pizza slices. Grandma slices, however, feature the same tasty trinity found in regular slices, i.e., cheese, sauce and crust, albeit layered in a unique order. On a grandma slice, the cheese is laid down before the sauce, which differentiates a grandma slice from its cousin, the Sicilian slice, which also has a square or rectangular shape but features cheese on top. Thus, with grandmas, as in the pizza, the cheese comes before the sauce and with grandmas, as in the bubbies, dinner comes before dark, bingo comes before dinner and grandchildren come before anything.

The cheese on a grandma slice is comparable to the cheese on a regular slice in terms of taste. Similarly, the chocolate in babka is comparable to the chocolate in rugelach and the potato in a knish is comparable to the potato in a boureka. However, the jelly in a jelly doughnut is not comparable to the jelly in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just like the kasha in a kasha knish is not comparable to a kashe in a Talmudic context.

When ordering grandma pizza, be careful not to cause a scene accidentally, especially when speaking in shorthand. For example, if you stroll into a pizza shop, do not ask: “Can I have two grandmas to go?” Such a request could be taken the wrong way and you might be charged with kidnapping the elderly. If, instead, you ask for “two grannies in a box,” you might be indicted for false imprisonment or murder. If you are picking up a single grandma slice and they put the slice in a shabby paper bag, do not ask: “Is this old bag my grandma?”

Given the celebrity status which the grandma slice has attained, one might wonder why the grandpa (zaide) slice has not become all the rage too. For the record, grandpa pizza exists but is very hard to find, just like it is very hard to find a synagogue in the Serengeti, a shatnez checking service in Pyongyang or a kosher butcher in Vatican City.

Grandpa slices often feature additional ingredients like garlic, basil, olive oil and perhaps a little extra spice. Thus, preparing a grandpa, as in the pizza, is more burdensome just like preparing a grandpa, as in the zaide, also can be burdensome, especially when it comes to preparing a grandpa for bad news like (i) “I’m sorry, Zaide, but we cannot get your car repaired because parts for an Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser are not easy to come by these days,” (ii) “I’m sorry, Zaide, but my XBox 360 does not have a shuffleboard game and (iii) “I’m sorry, Zaide, but this pharmacy does not have borscht-flavored toothpaste or herring-scented deodorant.”

For the record, grandma and grandpa pizza are not the only types of food named after family members. For example, the world would not be as nice without Uncle Ben’s Rice and bliss would be but a myth without the apples of Granny Smith. The world probably needs more items named after family members like Cousin Kenny’s Kugel, Aunt Aviva’s Almond-Horns and Brother Binyamin’s Bialys. These types of names, however, can go too far. For instance, it probably would be difficult to successfully market a product named “Second Cousin Twice Removed Rivka’s Rye Bread.”

Final thought: A great grandma could be the mother of your grandparent or the best slice of pizza you’ve ever had.

Send comments or criticism to [email protected].

By Jon Kranz

 

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