Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Masterpiece

It's not very often you encounter a masterpiece of any type. Of course there are all kinds and sometimes it's hard to spot one when it's right in front of you. Such was the case tonight. On my subway ride home, a few minutes after discarding the tepid remains of a slice of pizza, I realized that the slice in question was a masterpiece. Sadly, the nature of its work was not greatness, it was awfulness. It was, without a doubt, the worst slice of pizza I've ever had.

Events were set in motion at 2:57am when I hurried to leave work so that I could rush over to the nearby Joe's Pizza just before they closed at 3am. I exited work with what I thought was just enough time. I eagerly imagined the delicious slice that awaited me. Upon arriving at Joe's I discovered that I was too late. The door was locked and the employees were busy in the endeavor to close the place down. I sadly shuffled away towards the subway.

My journey to the subway was cut short when I noticed that Cafe Amore, another local pizza establishment, was still open for business. A little more than a year ago, when Cafe Amore first opened I went in to give their plain cheese slice a try. The plain slice left a good deal to be desired. It was bad enough, I recalled, to warn others to avoid it. Still, I wanted a slice of pizza and Cafe Amore seemed to be my only option.

With some trepidation I opened the door and went inside. I looked over the six or seven pies on display. None looked particularly appetizing, but, I told myself, pizza is always edible at worst. I decided that, since the plain cheese slice was no good, I would give the fresh mozzarella slice a try. I got the attention of the employee behind the counter and placed my order.

He slid my slice in the oven. I went over to the cash register and was informed that I owed $3.25. As I brought the money out of my wallet and handed it over I silently mused that Joe's only charges $2.25 for their fresh mozzarella slice. That said, the slice was rather large. Perhaps, I theorized, you got what you paid for.

A minute later the man behind the counter passed me my slice and I walked out the door. I paused to take a bite. It was awful.

The mozzarella was too thick by half. I would hazard a guess that it measured nearly a centimeter through. The flavor called to mind that of cheese peeled off the top of old refrigerated lasagna. The consistency was that of extra firm tofu, while the texture was almost mealy. Moreover, it was thickly crusted over on top like an open can of paint that's been sitting around for a week.

I resumed walking to the subway. Despite the quality of the mozzarella I pressed on in eating my slice. After all, I had paid $3.25 for it. On the second bite I realized that this was a new low in crust. Just for starters it was limp and tasteless. Sauce had permeated it, thus making all but the very edge moist and gooey. Additionally, the bottom was burnt and powdered with too much flour.

The sauce itself was an abomination. To be fair it was hard to tell because there was more sauce in the crust than on top of it, but it more closely resembled V8 (no slight to V8 in its proper place by the way) than it did pizza sauce. If there were herbs in it I didn't see or taste them.

As I walked down the stairs to the train I considered my situation. The pizza was altogether wretched, yes, but I remembered my $3.25 again and resolved to try a new tactic. I peeled off half of the sweaty blob of cheese that besmirched the marsh-like surface and threw it away. I folded the remaining portion of the slice in half in an effort to create a makeshift calzone.

I gagged down several bites of this new horror before I gave up. Making the most of $3.25 wasn't worth it. I pitched the remains in a trashcan and took a seat to wait for my train.

After a few minutes my train came. As I rode home I reflected upon my slice of pizza. There wasn't a single good thing about it. In my head I listed off the characteristics of pizza. In each category I could not recall a worse attempt. Barring size, a dubious attribute in this case, every single thing with that could be wrong with pizza was wrong. It was, in a way, a masterpiece. It had achieved excellence in awfulness in an unprecedented and unfathomable way. It put CiCi's Pizza Buffet, the previous champion of awfulness, to shame. It was not only the worst pizza I've ever had it was also some of the worst food I've ever had.

"Fresh" Mozzarella Slice from Cafe Amore: F-


Anonymous wells said...

Your manipulation of the passive voice is actively terrific.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Joe Swanberg said...

Wow. What an entry. Solid Gold. Your pain is my pleasure, for sure.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Chad Hartigan said...

you are way off the mark with your unabashed slander of cici's pizza buffet. 10 out of 10.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous brendan said...

im not sure what ten would be, but i'm fairly certain cicis is not it.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous David Lowery said...

I happened to see this masterpiece (or its recent descendent, in any case) in person the other night. It sat there behind the glass, staring at me, daring me to see for myself what taste sensations it had in store for whomever might purchase it. Luckily, I don't eat cheese, so it was an easy temptation to turn down.

3:49 PM  
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