Pees-ta

one cheese pizza

“What is this?” asked Papaw. He squinted his glaucoma-weakened eyes, inspecting the food.

“Pizza,” Mama responded. “It’s just bread, cheese, and sauce.”

Mamaw harrumphed then told someone invisible, “This woman’s crazy. I’ll die – it’s poison. Look at how fat she is; I won’t eat her food.”

“Pees-ta,” Papaw said. “Sounds foreign. I was in the war, and I don’t like foreign food-”

“Just eat it,” Daddy commanded. “You’ll get used to it.”

Papaw took a bite, grimaced, and pushed away his plate. “This is for damn Garlic Eaters. I’m not eating this foreign trash.”

Mamaw just cackled. “Poison!”

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I wrote this for the April 2nd Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch: Pizza.

This was based on a real-life event that happened in the late 90’s. My parents were silly and agreed to take my grandparents to Kentucky for a family reunion with my great-great-grand uncle’s branch of the family (they moved to Kentucky from North Carolina in the early 1900’s). At one stop along the way, my parents pulled us all over to a Pizza Hut, and my mom was surprised to find out my dad’s parents had never eaten Italian food before. I might have been, but I was still pretty young.

But think of it this way: IT WAS LIKE 1998 AND THESE TWO RED-BLOODED AMERICANS HAD NEVER TASTED PIZZA.

I still remember that event. “Pees-ta,” they called it. “Pees-ta,” they’d complain again, later in their lives when faced with the villainy of spaghetti with meatballs.

My Mamaw died this past December, but Papaw is still kickin’ around out there, driving despite being 97, nearly blind from glaucoma, and severely disliking Pizza.

Photo by kei photo on Pexels.com

23 thoughts on “Pees-ta

  1. Alexander Elliott says:

    My father’s parents were immigrants from Sicily. With eleven kids to feed, my mother didn’t serve pizza often (if at all) , but we had plenty of other “Italian” food. I recall a time my grandmother made pizza and I hated it! Supposedly, it was the real deal but puddled with oil and tasteless – ugh! I’ll take the Americanized version any day.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I agree that Americanized food gets a bad rap! Just because it’s adapted to a new palette doesn’t mean it’s bad, and “authentic” isn’t as important as “tastes good” in my opinion.

      • Alexander Elliott says:

        Exactly! Perhaps my grandmother was a bad cook or I was simply a picky eater. I can tell you – when my dad and his siblings took a trip to Italy years ago, he hated the “authentic” food too!

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