The Perfect Food

On last week's episode of THE BIGGEST LOSER (a reality show with a weight-loss theme), one of the contestants won a 24-hour trip home to see family and friends. While there, she and several friends went out to a pizza place...

...where she ordered a small pizza with JUST marinara sauce on it.

"Accckkk!!" I cried at the tv screen. "Secular blasphemy! Secular blasphemy!"

I'm sorry, but... that's not pizza! That's bread with tomato sauce.

Real pizza is the perfect food. You got your carbs, you got your veggies, you got your meat (optional), you got your dairy, and you got some fats and oils. All the major food groups in one place. Then you bake it all in a hot oven until you get that great caramelization and browning on the dough and cheese. O-o-o-h-h-h, yeah, baby.

What's not to love?

The problem with a good pizza, like potato chips, is that it's hard to stop at just one slice. That's where you get into the excess calories and fats.

Pizza without cheese is just not pizza. If the Biggest Loser contestant had had even a light sprinkle -- a few spoonfuls -- of Mozzarella or Parmesan on her "pizza", I wouldn't have reacted so strongly.

In fact, if it weren't for pizza... the future would never happen.

[warning: Trek-geekery ahead]

In the film Star Trek: First Contact, Earth's first contact by aliens occurs after Zephram Cochrane's flight in the Phoenix, and the first human use of warp drive technology. Supposedly, inventing a warp drive proves your planet is mature enough to be contacted by other races

Uh huh. Yeah, right.

Nope. Inventing a warp drive only gets you a first look. No sane alien race is going to invite you into their Federation just on that one data point. When the Vulcans landed and introduced themselves at the film's end. Of course they're going to take a good look around, and see what kind of history, psychology, track record these "humans" have before things go any further. For a first contact, they're only going to have a meet-and-greet over coffee. If things go well, maybe it'll move on to dinner, and a movie, at a later date

When those Vulcans landed, they discovered a world that had been decimated by war. And when they learned about human history, they would have learned that humans had been killing each other in wars all through their recorded history.

Not very encouraging. If not for a fortunate coincidence, the Vulcans would probably have left a fake phone number, got back on their ship, and flown away

The fortunate coincidence was that they landed in the midst of a party celebrating the warp drive's success. A party where there was music, beer, and...

...oh come on, what do you think would be served at a party like that?...


So the visiting Vulcans would certainly have asked about the strange food they were being offered. And they would have been told it was called "pizza".

And they would have been told that it started off with a base of bread dough. That could be done thin-crust, or thick-crust, or hand-tossed. That it could be white, or sourdough, or whole-wheat. It could even be a pre-cooked crust, like lavosh, or Boboli,

And then they'd have learned that the next step was a sauce, usually but not always tomato-based, seasoned with a wide, wide range of spices. Or you could make it with an Alfredo sauce, or pesto, or just olive oil and garlic.

And then the meats, if you wanted. Sausage, ham, bacon, beef, chicken, rattlesnake, anchovies, whatever you felt like.

And the extra veggies. Onions, olives, peppers, mushrooms, etc., etc., etcetera.

And the cheeses. Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, goat cheese, Feta, Gorgonzola, and even more etcetera.

All these choices. All these variations.

By which point, the Vulcans would have been standing there, jaws dropped and eyes wide. And they would have turned to one another, and said something like:

"These people... these humans... they have created something that is a physical manifestation of the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC: 'Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination'. Clearly, they are fit to join with other races."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the true story of how humans went into far space.

(You can trust me; I wouldn't make up something like that. If you don't believe me, do a search on "pizza ovens"; one of the major brands of pizza ovens is... yes, really... "Vulcan"!)

(Incidentally, after that first contact, the Vulcans of course took pizza back with them into space, and spread the concept to other planets. The results were not always pretty. The Klingons' own unfortunate variation on the pizza concept gave rise to the Klingon expression "Some days you eat the pizza, and some days the pizza eats you.")


Run, Run, Here Comes The Geezer!

I had the last of my lower teeth yanked out a few weeks ago.


Bad teeth tend to run in my family. Crooked, discolored, and very, very prone to cavities, regardless of how often you brushed. (There was a series of old toothpaste commercials who featured various kids coming home from a dental appointment and proudly announcing "Look, Mom, no cavities!" Those commercials probably made my parents want to throw a brick at the tv; it was a great! day at the dentist's when one of us boys would only have one or two cavities to be treated.)

So, about five years ago I realized that dental expenses to try and keep my teeth together were running between $150 and $200 a month. Our dentist, Dr. Lundgren, had been jigsawing repeated fillings around one another for about twenty years to try and keep enough teeth together to function. As I got older, this began to garner diminishing returns, and I decided to get an upper denture. (The upper teeth were the ones falling apart fastest and most expensively; the lower ones were still pretty functional.)

I was pretty satisfied with the upper plate. Yep, took some getting used to, to have a big chunk of plastic & ceramic in my mouth for hours every day. Yep, didn't have the same chewing pressure available for eating. But it was functional enough.

Time passes. More of the lower teeth lose fillings or break apart. Some get extracted. Eventually, I'm down to the last half-dozen front teeth and one molar.

A few months ago, that last lower molar starts to *twinge* whenever I put pressure on it, and I realize it's time to start thinking about a lower denture.

(It would have been nice if it had occurred in some other year than one in which someone apparently signed me up for the Unexpected Expense of the Month Club. I don't like the selections, and the reply cards don't have a "DON'T SEND" option.)

So, hey, I see the prosthodontist who'll make the new denture, and the oral surgeon who'll do the extractions, arrange a couple days off work (getting a bunch of teeth extracted at one time lays you pretty low for a couple of days), and get it all done.


Gosh, a normal-looking mouth, after all these years. Who'da thunk?

Still getting used to the new denture. Still a little tender where the real teeth used to be. Still getting used to eating (mostly softer foods yet) with the denture, and talking around it. (I've always tended towards speaking High Mumble -- Hilde's gotten pretty good at translating over the years -- but the current mode might be described as "Mumble-&-Mush", which sounds like a food item you might find served in a British pub.)

Having both plates in tends to change the shape of my face somewhat, pushing the lower half outwards. I've noticed that with lips closed, I now look rather stern, like some Puritan elder out of uniform. Hilde's told me that when I have my mouth open slightly, it's mostly the lower denture that's visible, and it looks a lot like a snarl. And when I raise my upper lip to compensate for that, it makes my cheekbones pop and my eyes widen, which altogether looks... umm, well... demented.

Hmmm. Sullen, irritated, and crazed. Yeh, that's pretty much me in a nutshell.