In Cheese We Trust

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Community Service.”

Dear St. Louis Community,

When I relocated from Chicago to an Illinois suburb of your fine city 16 years ago, I found something that was so foreign, so disturbing, that I can no longer stay silent. I fear you have all been brainwashed. I’m not sure who is responsible, and I don’t know that there is any hope to reverse it. I’m talking about what you have been told is “pizza.” Or, more specifically, what you refer to as the “cheese” on this “pizza.” People of St. Louis, your pizza makes me sad.

Living in Chicago, I was never more than a few blocks away from a pizza place. Whether it was the world famous deep dish style, or thin crust that was more common on the south side where I grew up, even the worst place was better than Pizza Hut or Domino’s. I don’t think I even tasted Domino’s pizza until I went away to college and it was the closest and cheapest option. Had I ordered it at home, I would have been mocked and possibly disowned by my family. So imagine my dismay upon finding that one of those chains or (horror of horrors!) frozen pizza was our best option in our new home. How would I carry on?!

Chicago pizza is not all the same, but it is, in my opinion, all pretty delicious. Some is thick and some is thin; some sauce is spicy and some is sweet. Here’s where St. Louis misses the point: the cheese is mozzarella. Maybe a blend that includes some provolone, but mozzarella is the star of the show. Gooey cheesy goodness that when you cut a slice and lift it off the pan, it trails a string like a spider’s web all the way to your plate. Cheese that when you take a bite stretches until finally breaking and hanging inelegantly from your chin.

Why go on about cheese, you ask? Because I am here to tell you, St. Louis, that you’re doing it wrong! Your use of Provel cheese instead of mozzarella on pizza, if I may be so bold, is an abomination. It’s like going to see Magic Mike and finding its star is Gilbert Gottfried. It’s just wrong.

For those of you unfamiliar with Provel cheese, it is a processed cheese consisting of a mixture of cheddar, swiss and provolone. I’m not making this up – you can read about it here. I adore cheese and happen to love cheddar, swiss, and provolone, but does anything about this scream “Pizza!” to you? Of course not. Not only does it have an odd, tangy flavor (no doubt due to the cheddar and swiss) but when melted, it has an unpleasant paste-like consistency that sticks to your teeth and the roof of your mouth. Once melted, it never truly re-solidifies, so if you like eating cold pizza the next day, this is not a viable option.

Come on St. Louis, you’re better than this! You are the home of the famous Gateway Arch! You have your beloved, World Series winning St. Louis Cardinals for God’s sake! Get it together people!

Sorry. Got a little carried away there. But we Chicagoans take our pizza seriously. Don’t get me wrong St. Louis, your cuisine is not all bad. The dry rub method of cooking ribs is the best, and whoever decided to bread and deep fry ravioli is a genius. And the inventor of gooey butter cake should be awarded the Nobel Prize.

Over the years, a few places with tolerable pizza have opened up, so Mr. Maid and I have found the will to live between visits home. It’s not the vast cheese wasteland it once was. There are pockets of resistance here and there, but progress is slow.

Just as one might say “don’t drink the Kool-Aid” to warn against caving in to peer pressure, I must say this: “People of St. Louis – I implore you – don’t eat the cheese.”

Yours Cheesily,

Rita

Ed & Joe's pizza in Tinley Park, Illinois. Pizza done right!
Pizza from Ed & Joe’s in Tinley Park, Illinois. Pizza done right!
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31 thoughts on “In Cheese We Trust

  1. What a great post, I second @startingtheclimb’s comment. Pizza in England only gets as good as Dominoes and Pizza Hut. I love the mix of humour and information here, it’s like a public health warning for those ignorant of true pizza beauty.

    I attempted this writing prompt yesterday, it’s great to see how many directions people took it. Mines at http://wp.me/p5g0se-4C, I had to give it a short story slant since that’s what I do.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember pizza being pretty good in Chicago, and I also remember having sad pizza in St. Louis. Of course, it is also true that I was a happy tourist in Chicago and a stressed out graduate student in St. Louis and that could have had something to do with it. Here in Washington we have a place called District of Pi that serves very excellent deep dish pizza with a corn meal crust that is never soggy. When I visited Sicily many years ago, what was called pizza was pretty sad, closer to St. Louis than to Chicago pizza. Silly me, I expected Sicilian pizza to be really special.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is great! Here in the Philadelphia area we are blessed with fabulous pizza (not just cheesesteaks) but you don’t have to travel very far before the pizza gets bad! Have you ever considered trying to make your own? We do and it turns out great! (Grill it for a light crisp crust) Who knows, maybe you and Mr. Maid can open the best pizza place in St. Louis!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve literally just eaten and now I’m hungry again, but I’m in England and not Chicago 😦 Very pleased to see Mr Maid make an appearance! Deep fried ravioli sounds amazing…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Makes me wonder if the sad offerings here in Fairbanks would be better or worse than what St. Louis has to offer. Needless to say, that is just one more thing we choose to DIY here at the Bistro! Absolutely LOVE your humor!

    Like

    • Thank you! I’ve actually been to Fairbanks, but it was about 35 years ago. I don’t remember a single meal – then again, I was 16 and it was a family camping vacation – we probably ate a lot of hot dogs on the grill. 🙂
      I do remember my mom complaining about the prices at the grocery store and the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent use of the prompt.

    I have to disagree with the people who say that pizza in England is always terrible, though. Not true… At least in London it’s not.

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  7. What a great read. Your imagery of the cheese stretching and hanging off the chin was delicious, (it made my stomach growl). The Gilbert Gottfried reference made me laugh, and by the end of it all I was ready to sign a petition to mandate mozzarella on pizza in St. Louis … and I have never been there. Well done, most enjoyable…thank you for sharing.

    Like

  8. I went to Chicago for the first time last March and loved the pizza…but not as much as the Blues! I don’t know about St. Louis, but Chicago has the best I’ve been to. Going through withdrawal back home in L.A.

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  9. I enjoyed this post. I can’t say I know of the St. Louis type pizza you are talking about. I was born in the Chicago area . We moved to Southern Illinois. I called Godfrey home for many years. Then Grafton. We always had great pizza places to go to. I even worked at an awesome one when I was 19 and 20.
    I really don’t remember ever having pizza in St. Louis. We always had the BBQ .
    I left that area years ago.
    I love pizza but seldom have it. We live out in the boonies in Florida . No one delivers.
    Looking forward to reading more of what you write.
    Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Maid's Day Off and commented:

    Once again I’ve been sidetracked from the next chapter in my Maid Goes to Maine series.
    To tide you over, here is a reblog of one of my early posts exactly one year ago today. Another year has passed and I still feel just as passionate about my pizza issues.

    Like

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