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30 Minutes or Less - Part II

Larry Finke "You didn't really, did you?" asked my wife, incredulous that her vanilla, white bread, conservative husband would commit such an outlandish act.

"Yes I did," said I, knowing that she wouldn't believe me until the package arrived.

"The package will be delivered to our house Tuesday, by Federal Express, so make sure you're around," I added.

"You didn't really, did you?" she asked again, Some people won't take yes for an answer.

What I did was order a pizza from an authentic deep-dish pizzeria in Chicago, some 90 miles down the road. I'd heard the ad on the radio for Lou Malnati's pizza, so I called 1-800-LOU-TO- GO and placed my order.

"Won't it be cold by the time it gets here?" she asked.

"Very cold," I said. "It's' packed in dry ice."

"How much is this costing us?" she naturally wanted to know..

"It doesn't matter, and besides, it's not costing you anything because it's money I earned on the side," I said.

"How much?" she demanded.

"Twenty-five dollars," I shrugged.

"Whoa, how big is this pizza?" she asked.

"Nine inches."

This is when her voice rose in volume and intensity.

"You paid $25 for a nine-inch pizza? Are you crazy?"

"But this pizza will be twice as deep as a store-bought pizza, so you're really getting an 18 incher," I explained.

"But $25 for one pizza?"

I figured you pays your money and takes your chances. I had to find out if this pizza lived up to its billing and whether it could compare to the great pizzas of my past, or if this expensive pie would be held over my head until the day I die as a sign of my folly.

I hurried home after work on Tuesday to find a two-foot square styrofoam cube on the kitchen counter. The whole family gathered for the unveiling.

I split the cube and revealed what to me was an extremely small, round aluminum foil pan, three inches in height. Underneath the pan was a layer of dry ice about as thick as a nickel.

My friend Donny, the train engineer, wanted the ice to impress some girl by dropping a sliver into her drink and claiming he had magical powers. But I had other plans.

I filled the sink with water and threw the dry ice in. Then I had great fun blowing fog all over the kitchen to the delight of my kids and the consternation of my wife. This is called creating a memory.

Now that the fun was over, I had a $25 pizza to examine.

I took the cardboard circle off the top of the pan and immediately noticed the pizza appeared to be upside down. The tomato sauce was on top, the meat was underneath that, and after it was baked we found the cheese under the meat.

A joke was either being played on me, or Chicago pizza makers had-discovered a culinary secret.

The proof is .in the tasting, as I put the pizza in the oven to bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes and set a table for two complete with candles, plastic glasses, and nonalcoholic wine.

While I waited, I read the certificate of authenticity enclosed in the pizza package. I quote:

"... The pizza you are about to eat was-as made from scratch with only the world's finest available ingredients. Whether shopping for the best whole milk mozzarella cheese from Wisconsin, having a special blend of sausage made exclusive for Malnati's, or traveling to see the tomato growers in California who combine just the right mix of tomatoes to complement our award winning crust, we have spared no expense in bringing you the finest quality pizza money can buy..."

"This better be good," was all I could think, as I took the much praised pizza out of the oven, cut it in four, and put thick pieces on plates for my wife and me.

Have you ever been at an event that really did live up to its billing?

This pizza was - how shall I say it?- really, really good.

The tender crust suggested fine pastry. The thick, gooey mozzarella, still white, redefined dairy products on pizza. Savory sausage covered every inch. The tomato sauce did not overpower, but complemented the rest like fine plastic stemware complements fake wine.

If you ever want to split an authentic Chicago style deep dish pizza, you're welcome to stop by. Just give me and FedEx a two day notice.

Larry Finke's column appears weekly on The Humor Archive.

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