pizza…, extra cheese

Ever since this originally Greek delicacy was introduced to Italy it has shaped the world’s culinary cravings from China to South Africa. In the U.S. it became the staple food of both the American teenager and their families. Many people describe this circular meal as their personal comfort food. I am not one of them.

Still, there are times when just nothing will satiate the palate other than a piece of this chewy triangle. Sadly, having missed another lunch-time by a good three hours, I walked over to Antonio’s Pizza and stood in line to order a slice…, with extra cheese. And extra garlic sauce: and hot peppers. No one has come near me since. Hummm.

American life, in both the 20th and early 21st centuries, has become a cafeteria of choices. We can even get our pizzas with extra cheese. Yet up to one-third of our world has never even seen a pizza. They live far below the poverty level of most developed nations— Europe, Japan, Australia/New Zealand, North America, parts of South America, emerging China, and eastern Russia. Yet there are places on this planet which have never heard of pizza— nomadic China, nomadic Russia, Northern & Central Africa, the Indian Peninsula, and many isolated South Sea Islands.

So, you ask, What has this worldwide pizza-depravation to do with me? More than you might think. For starters, it raises a personal/global economic question. While we are deciding on extra cheese Why must a third of our world live on below $2.00 a day? Do the rest of the developed nations of the world need this de facto slave-population to maintain our life-style? Another question it raises is To what extent am I, individually, and our nation, corporately, responsible to raise their standard of living? Is ignorance (& poverty) really bliss? And what about the infant mortality rate? Or, the educational resources NOT made available to them? Are we no longer, proverbially, our brother’s keeper?!?

How can we turn a blind eye and do nothing to aid a third of our world’s desolation!?! To be sure, navigating the social-political landscapes, regional conflicts, the balance of world-trade, and the rights of peoples to govern themselves is a complicated mine-field. But it has to be traversed.

Let’s not leave the care of this world to the Bill Gates’ & Warren Buffets’, to the Peace Corp & the Red Cross, or to the volunteers working with Doctors without Walls, World Vision, and the countless Christian missionaries who have accomplished untold acts of heroism to bring peace, safety, and medical supplies to our world’s needy. Every one of us, who earn more than $2.00 a day, should be involved in saving our planet from systematically enslaving a third of its population.

Never mind, forget the extra cheese. Actually, forget the whole slice. I can wait ‘till dinner.

Have a nice week,

Gary

How do I cut cheese?

Recently we had a guest in our home who assisted in the preparation of an hors d’oeuvre plate for a small soiree. The assortment of offerings was quite delectable to say the least. But I became somewhat concerned when our guest, newly sharpened Wüsthof paring knife in hand, asked, “How do I cut cheese?” My concern increased to astonishment after I deftly relieved her of possession of the knife and replaced it with a cheese- slicer, which she fixedly studied with that “what’s this thing” sort of intensity.

The conclusions elicited from her question led me to the following observations.

  1. She came from extreme wealth and therefore had, truly, never actually cut cheese in her life because the kitchen help or chefs were responsible for such menial tasks.
  2. This was a ploy to get someone else to cut the cheese for her.
  3. Her planet did not have cheese or knives, let alone cheese slicers.
  4. She had just been released from the asylum where “residents” were not allowed to play with knives, nor would they ever come in contact with a cheese slicer.

The impressive thing was the unpretentious, pleasing, and direct manner in which she asked. She seemed neither embarrassed nor unashamed. (Though I did notice her face develop a peculiar reddish tint as the question left her lips.) Whether from naïveté or ignorance, her query was most appropriate. That alone is an inspiring, notable, and extraordinary feat in our self-dependent, independent, and improper society.

Why can’t more of us be like our unassuming, knife-relieved house guest? You don’t know something, or don’t know how to do something— ask. Is it truly that difficult? Do we assume that everyone on the planet comes out of the womb with the knowledge of how to cut cheese, how to insert a shoe-string through a hole, how to add or subtract? Let alone the exploratory skills to map the sequencing of DNA double helix?

Some of the more challenging questions I’ve had to ask—

  1. How do I tie a Windsor knot?
  2. How do determine which god is God?
  3. What is the cleanest way to change the oil in my car? (there isn’t one, by the way)
  4. How do I determine the criteria for choosing the one I would marry?
  5. How do I cook steak properly? (medium-rare, of course)
  6. What am I supposed to be doing in this phase of my life?
  7. Why do different cheeses need different methods for cutting?

So, really, how do I cut cheese, or choose a spouse, or grill a perfect steak, or find God? The important thing is that asking questions is the simplest way to learn. Investigating and questioning then leads to richer understanding and deeper knowledge of cheese and everything else.

Have a cheesy week,

Gary